The European Union needs a strong and viable asylum system, the Czech and
Finnish heads of government Andrej Babis and Juha Sipila agreed during
their talks in Helsinki on Monday.
The two officials said migration was an issue on which the EU badly needed to reach consensus and stressed that migrant quotas were obviously not the answer. The two heads of government said they also had a similar take on EU budget issues, post Brexit.
The Czech Prime Minister is also scheduled to attend the Czech-Finnish business forum and sign a memorandum on Czech accession to the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which has been operating in Helsinki since April 2017.
Before his departure, Mr Babiš told journalists he would also like to visit a Finnish primary school and university to find inspiration for Czech school reform.
A few weeks ago the Czech Republic joined “Refugees Welcome International ” a platform that was founded in November 2014 to connect refugees with locals who are willing to share their living space and on a day-to-day basis help refugees feel at home in their new country. I spoke to Tomáš Jungwirth, one of the organizers of the project in the Czech Republic, about how it will work and what he hopes to achieve in a country that is not perceived as being overly friendly to migrants.
The number of foreigners residing in the Czech Republic has risen to
493,400, the highest number in the country’s modern history, the Czech
Statistics Office reported on Thursday.
The largest foreign minorities are Ukrainians, Slovaks and Vietnamese. Together these three nationalities make up more than half of the foreigners living in the country.
The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has warned that prolonged pressure
over the matter of migrant quotas is fuelling populist forces in the Czech
Republic and could, in a worst case scenario, lead to the Czech Republic
leaving the EU.
In an interview for Die Welt the Czech prime minister said the Czech Republic was not shirking its responsibility for helping solve the migrant crisis but felt strongly that it should be resolved outside the EU, in the counties of origin.
Mr. Babiš has come under pressure from the anti-migrant Party of Freedom and Direct Democracy to agree on a bill which would enable Czechs to vote in a referendum on leaving the EU, but has resisted the pressure, saying that referenda on foreign policy issues such as this are unacceptable.
Police arrested three Turkish nationals traveling on Prague's ring
road for allegedly trying to smuggle 22 people from Iraq, Syria and Turkey
into Germany; the group was found hidden in the back of their van. The
suspects are believed to have smuggled some 100 people or so across the
border in the past.
The news was confirmed on Friday by the spokesman for the National Centre Against Organized Crime Jaroslav Ibehej. If found guilty, the trio could face up to eight years in jail.
EU representatives, members of the African Union and UN officials are
meeting in Brussels to discuss the possibility of increasing aid to the
Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger ) in order
to help stem the migrant crisis, fight terrorism and people smuggling.
The EU wants to raise 500 million euros for this purpose of which 414 million has already been pledged.
The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš said that the Czech Republic would contribute 4 million euros into the Fund for Africa this year.
The EU has two security missions in the region – one in Niger and two in Mali, in which Czech troops are involved.
The Czech Interior Ministry has granted asylum to eight Chinese Christians seeking protection in the country on the grounds of religious persecution. The requests of seventy other applicants were rejected. A lawyer representing the group of Chinese Christians has said she will advise them to appeal the decision.
For nearly 20 years, the Multicultural Centre Prague has been involved in promoting human rights and respect for cultural diversity. Their activities and projects focus on the social and economic advancement of migrants in the Czech Republic or inclusion of socially disadvantaged minorities. I met with the centre’s director Zuzana Schreiberová to discuss some of their activities, including a project called Prague Shared and Divided or the recently published Prague-Warsaw newspaper:
The regional court in Tachov has ordered that a lorry driver and a fellow
passenger detained last Friday on the D5 highway in the Plzeň area headed
towards the border crossing with Germany, be remanded in custody.
The pair as well as a second duo in a second truck, were allegedly attempting to smuggle 35 migrants, including 11 children, across the border at Rozvadov. The regional court in Plzeň-jih (Pilsen-south) is to decide on the other suspects.
According to police spokeswoman Veronika Horková, the lorries came from Romania through Hungary and Slovakia.