Czech Republic Facts
The Czech Republic is best known for its beer and its Capital, Prague, which has rapidly risen to become one of Europe’s most popular city holiday destinations.
Official language: Czech
Currency: Czech koruna (CZK)
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About half of the Czech Republic’s land area is used for agriculture. Along with forestry and fisheries, agriculture contributes a couple of percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The most important crops are wheat and other cereals, as well as sugar beets, corn, potatoes and apples.
- CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Czech Republic. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.
Poppy seeds, canary seeds and hops are also important agricultural products. Livestock management has lost importance since 1990, but meat and milk production is still important.
During communist times, agriculture was almost entirely run by cooperatives and state farms. Legislation from the early 1990s gave those who owned private land before 1948 the right to demand it back. Most state farms have been phased out, but a large part of the agricultural sector is still cooperatively managed. For Czech Republic defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.
In 1989, 15 percent of the working population was employed in agriculture, in 2015 the proportion had fallen to around 3 percent. Production has also shrunk, and farmers have seen their incomes decline faster than other occupational groups. Czech farmers receive part of EU agricultural support, but it is significantly lower here than in the old member states.
About a third of the land area is wooded and forestry is of great economic importance. It is largely run by state or municipal authorities.
The Czech Republic lacks coast and therefore sea fishing, but inland fishing is ongoing. Thousands of ponds and reservoirs are grown in food fish, mainly carp but also trout.
FACTS – AGRICULTURE
Agriculture’s share of GDP
2.0 percent (2018)
Percentage of land used for agriculture
45.2 percent (2016)
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Offers how the 3-letter acronym of EZS stands for the state of Czech Republic in geography.
Gruvstad double casualty
13 miners die and ten are injured in a methane fire in a coal mine in Czech Karvina. Most of the victims are Poles, and Poland observes one day’s grief. The mine accident near the Polish border is the most serious in the Czech Republic since 1990, when 30 worked lost their lives. That incident also happened in Karvina.
The Czech Republic votes no to the UN migration agreement
When the UN General Assembly ratifies an international agreement on migration aimed at establishing legal and safe routes for migrants, the Czech Republic is one of five countries voting against the agreement. The agreement is not binding on the member states, for example it does not entail any quotas for refugee reception. Prime Minister Babiš states that the Czech Republic’s no is part of the government’s strategy against illegal immigration. “We will not accept a single migrant,” clarifies Babiš.
The EU wants to call Prime Minister Babiš affairs
13th of December
The pressure on Prime Minister Babiš is increasing when the European Parliament overwhelmingly votes to call on the European Commission to investigate allegations that Babiš is the subject of an illegal conflict of interest regarding EU grants. Under a law of 2017, ministers are not allowed to own media, and companies that are more than 25 percent owned by a minister may not be awarded public assignments or government grants. According to Transparency International, Babiš is still the true owner of Agrofert, one of the country’s largest corporate groups, which through the government receives large contributions from the EU. Babiš denies sitting on double chairs and says he no longer controls Agrofert without handing it over to an outside company.
President Zeman dismisses spying alert
“Gibberish!” – This is President Zeman’s comment on the intelligence service BIS warnings about increased Chinese and Russian spy operations in the country. A few days earlier, BIS has reported that a Russian spy ring has been revealed and that the Russian Embassy is being used for spy activities and that China has “almost non-existent” assets to buy sensitive information. The reports are dismissed as ignored by Zeman, who, unlike the government, runs a pro-Russian and Chinese-friendly political line.
The government survives the vote of no confidence
The coalition government between populist ANO and Socialist ČSSD survives a vote of no confidence. 92 of Parliament’s 200 members voted to dismiss the government, but 101 votes were needed to put the plan into effect. The vote is preceded by large demonstrations in Prague demanding the departure of Prime Minister Babiš. The head of government is accused of corruption (see September 6, 2017)) and for being an informant for the security police during the communist era. Babiš denies all accusations and says that the protests only make him stronger. However, the charges worry ČSSD, and the party’s members cast their votes in the vote. The criticism against Babiš is fueled by the fact that his son said a few weeks earlier in a media interview that Babiš had kidnapped him and brought him to Crimea so that he could not testify in the corruption case. Babiš rejects the son’s information and says he is mentally ill and suffers from delusions.
Opposition forward in elections to the Senate
The Social Democrats suffer a staggering loss in the election to the House of Parliament, the Senate, when 27 of the 81 seats are elected (one-third of the members are replaced every two years). The Social Democratic ČSSD wins only one mandate and loses a total of twelve as well as its position as the largest party in the Senate. ANO, which is the larger party in the government coalition, loses no mandate but fails to win more than one. It is best to go for a former government party, the bourgeois ODS, which wins ten seats while the party Mayor and Independence / STAN (see Political system) wins five. The Communist Party loses its only mandate and falls outside the Senate for the first time since the 1990s.
The ruling ANO wins local elections
The ruling ANO wins the local elections in most cities but loses the capital of Prague to the opposition party ODS. ANO only comes in fifth place in Prague, which is disappointing for party leader Babiš who said before the election he “must win in Prague”. However, Babiš can comfort itself with ANO becoming the largest party in all thirteen regional capitals except Liberec in the northern Czech Republic. This is a success compared to the local elections four years earlier when ANO won in nine of the regional capitals. At that time, however, ANO managed to take home the victory in Prague, but now ANO was ruled by the voters in Prague for the party failed to solve the city’s housing and transport problems, writes the AFP news agency.
New Foreign Minister approved
Social Democratic ČSSD announces that President Zeman has agreed to appoint Tomáš Petříček as Foreign Minister. The candidate the party first presented, Miroslav Poche, was rejected by President Zeman on the grounds that he was “too absent on immigration issues”.
Requirements for embassy move in Israel are confirmed
In a joint statement, President Zeman, Prime Minister Babiš, the President of Parliament and the Foreign and Defense Ministers stated that the planned inauguration of a Czech cultural center in Jerusalem in November represents a first step in transferring the Czech Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Even after US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem 2017 (see Israel: Current Politics), President Zeman said that the Czech Republic would follow the United States in its tracks, but the government’s stance has so far remained unclear.
Prime Minister Babiš prepared for Communist engagement
21th of August
Prime Minister Babiš will be honored when he speaks at a memorial ceremony for the death victims demanded when the Soviet Union invaded the then Czechoslovakia 50 years earlier and ended the reforms during the so-called Prague Spring (see Modern History). Babiš was at that time a member of the Almighty Communist Party and has been accused of being an informant for the security police. The Babiš government is also the first since the communist era, which is dependent on support from the Communist Party to be able to govern.
Government approved by Parliament
Parliament’s House of Commons is holding a vote of confidence on Andrej Babiš’s new government, which is approved with 105 votes against 91. The government consists of Babiš party ANO and Social Democratic ČSSD and is supported by the Communist Party. Babiš promises that his government will fight for the Czech Republic’s interests in Europe and combat immigration.
Minister resigns accused of research fraud
Justice Minister Taťána Malá resigns after only 13 days on his post. Malá is accused of having copied parts of his dissertation and another academic text. Mala says that she is the victim of “a disgusting dirt campaign” but that she is resigning so that the deal does not harm the government. Prime Minister Babiš plans to take over the Justice Minister post for the time being. The government also lacks another minister since President Zeman refused to approve Babi’s proposal for Foreign Minister Miroslav Poche. Zeman says, among other things, that Poche is far too weak when it comes to immigration. Interior Minister Jan Hamáček is currently in charge of foreign affairs.
Minority government in place
A new minority government led by Andrej Babiš is sworn in. After months of negotiations, the Babiš party ANO has succeeded in agreeing a coalition with the much smaller Social Democratic ČSSD. Together, the parties have over 93 of the 200 seats in Parliament’s House of Commons. The coalition is supported by the Communist Party, which has 15 seats. In return, the Communist Party receives several points in the government’s program, including an increase in the minimum wage. It is the first time that the Communist Party has played an active role in a government formation since the Samet Revolution in 1989 that ended the Communist Party’s power monopoly (see Modern History). Cooperation with the Communists is not seen with a blind eye in all camps. In early June, when the plans became known, a large protest was held in Prague with thousands of participants.
New attempt to form government
President Miloš Zeman again gives Andrej Babiš the task of trying to create a government. Babiš has led an expedition minister since the October 2017 elections. Until now, the Babiš party ANO has collaborated with both the Communist Party and the right-wing SPD in voting in parliament’s lower house.
The President and the Prime Minister in dispute about nerve poison
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš withdraws from a statement made by President Miloš Zeman a few days earlier when he cited a Czech intelligence report according to which the Czech Republic produced the Novitjok nerve poison. This poison was used in the attack in England in March against a former Soviet double agent and his daughter. Russia, blamed for the attack by the outside world, accused the Czech Republic of producing the poison in March, and Moscow welcomes Zeman’s statement as “honest and courageous”. The Czech Republic denies the allegations and Babiš says that the Czech Republic “never produced, developed or stored any Novitjok-type substance. According to the authorities, a variant of Novitjok was manufactured as part of a military program in 2017, but the quantities were so small that it cannot be counted as production under international agreements. In addition, according to the authorities, it is a different version of Novitjok than the one used in the attack in England, and the poison must have been destroyed immediately. Babiš understands that Zeman’s statement was based on “a misunderstanding”.
Prime Minister Babiš suits the newspaper
Prime Minister Babiš sues Nový Čas magazine for damages of one million euros for publishing an interview with a former Czech agent who claims that Babiš was an informant for the Czechoslovak security police during the communist era. “He (Babiš) received money, just like everyone else,” said agent Ján Sarkocy in the interview. Babiš denies the allegations and demands in addition to the damages that the newspaper publish an apology.
President Zeman is pushing for embassy moves in Israel
The Foreign Ministry announces that the country’s honorary consultancy in Jerusalem will reopen in May. A Czech cultural center will also be opened in the city during the year. President Zeman, who was quick to support the US controversial decision in December to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, would like the Czech to follow the American example, but that is not the president’s decision. The government’s position on the matter is unclear. However, the Czech Foreign Ministry maintains the EU’s position that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.
5,000 in protest against the government
About 5,000 people gather in Prague to protest against Andrej Babiš’s government. “We want a decent government,” the protesters scan. The head of government is accused, among other things, of cheating EU grants for millions (see September 6, 2017).
Government talks break down
Negotiations for a government coalition between Andrej Babiš party ANO and the Social Democrats (ČSSD) break down. The reason is, according to the Social Democrats, that they cannot imagine forming a coalition involving Babiš, because of the suspicions of crime against him. Babiš, for his part, says that the talks collapsed when he refused to give the Social Democrats the Interior Minister post, and thus control over the police.
The Czech Republic expels Russian diplomats
The Czech Republic has three Russian diplomas as a result of a nerve poisoning attack on a Russian former spy and his daughter in the UK in early March. It is taking place in concerted action with some 20 countries, mainly in the EU, in solidarity with the British government accusing Russia of being behind the attack. In total, over 100 Russian diplomats are expelled, 60 of whom are from the United States. Moscow denies all involvement in the poison attack and threatens with countermeasures. At the end of March, Russia replies with the expulsion of three Czech diplomats.
Manifestation for freedom of expression
14th of March
Around 3,000 people are demonstrating in Prague in support of freedom of speech in the country, following President Zeman’s sharp criticism, including the public-service company ČT in connection with his second term in office. The protesters also highlighted their dissatisfaction with ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who is suspected of cheating with EU grants.
New term for President Zeman
President Miloš Zeman takes up his second term as President. At the installation ceremony, he criticizes former mining magnate Zdeněk Bakala, who he is accusing of financial irregularities. He also criticizes media owned by Bakala, who according to Zeman “is trying to manipulate public opinion”. The public-service company ČT also received a throw of the ladle. Several of the president’s political opponents are also being criticized and the leaders of the bourgeois Party T Radition Responsibility Prosperity (TOP 09) are leaving the venue in protest.
Prime Minister Babiš loses advocacy case in Slovakia
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš loses a prosecution case in Slovakia, where he tried to persuade the Slovak National Memorial Institute UPN (Ústav pamäti národa) to remove all information relating to him to the Czechoslovak security police StB in the 1980s. The regional court granted Babiš the right at an earlier stage, but the judgment was rejected by the Constitutional Court which returned the case to the court in Bratislava. The new ruling cannot be appealed. Babiš, who was born in Slovakia, was a member of the Communist Party and he is mentioned in StB documents from the Communist era. He himself admitted that he had contact with StB, but that these only applied to the country’s economic well-being, and that the security police registered him as an agent without his knowledge. Babiš has been accused of being able to use his StB contacts to enrich himself.
Zeman wins the presidential election
It will be Miloš Zeman who wins the second round of the presidential election. He gets 52 percent of the vote, while challenger Jiří Drahoš gets about 48 percent. The turnout is 66 percent. Zeman’s immigrant-faith rhetoric has led the former Social Democrat to approach the Czech extreme right. After the victory is complete, he says he supports the SPD politician Tomio Okamura’s demand that more referendums be held on political issues, something he has previously opposed. He wants, among other things, the Czechs to gain a referendum on the EU, but says that in this case he should disrupt continued Czech membership. During his victory, hatreds also make outrage against journalists and political opponents.
Prime Minister Babiš is deprived of his immunity from prosecution
The Chamber of Deputies votes to deprive ANO leader Andrej Babiš of his immunity to prosecution (111 votes in favor and 69 against) on charges of corruption against him. The same thing happened in September, but Babiš regained his immunity after being re-elected to Parliament in the elections held later that fall. The vote will take place at Babi’s request. He denies that he has done anything illegal.
Prime Minister Babiš loses confidence vote
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš loses, as expected, the vote of confidence for his intended government in the Chamber of Deputies. Only the 78 members of Babiš ANO support the government, while 117 members reject it. The government will formally resign on January 17, but will remain for the time being an expedition minister. The lack of confidence in Babiš is based on his suspicion of fraud with EU money (see September 6, 2017). Babiš himself claims his innocence and says that the accusations were lied to by political opponents and business rivals.
Zeman wins the first round of the presidential election
The incumbent President Miloš Zeman wins the first round of the presidential election with just under 39 percent of the vote. Zeman receives fewer votes than expected in the countryside, where he usually has strong support. 39 percent are not enough for a victory already, but Zeman will face the second of the elections, Jiří Drahoš, who was previously head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, in a second and decisive round on January 26-27. Drahoš gets almost 27 percent of the vote, while Pavel Fischer receives just over 10 percent, Michal Horácek slightly above 9 percent and Marek Hilser nearly 9 percent and Mirek Topolánek with about 4 percent. All of them are independent. The turnout is almost 62 percent.