News Czech government approves joining EU fiscal pact

24-03-2014 13:54 | Daniela Lazarová

The center-left government has approved the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU fiscal pact, the CTK news agency reports citing the government’s state secretary for European Affairs Tomáš Prouza. The move is not expected to have immediate economic consequences and the country will be bound to abide by the pact’s budget restrictions only after it joins the euro zone. At present it is seen as a manifestation of the country’s pro-European course and commitment to deeper EU integration. Economists have welcomed the move saying accession to the fiscal pact would enhance budget discipline and prevent future Czech governments from raising debts excessively.

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Austrian police charge Czech caught carrying three dozen refugees

01-09-2015 11:55 | Ian Willoughby

Police in Austria have charged a Czech man with people smuggling after catching him with 37 migrants in his truck near Vienna in July, a Czech Embassy official in the city told the website Echo24.cz. The man, who is said to be between 20 and 25 years old, is being held on remand and could face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty. His lawyer said he had made a confession. 

Almost 120,000 first graders start school

01-09-2015 11:36 | Ian Willoughby

Almost 120,000 first graders started school on Tuesday morning as the 2015–2016 academic year got underway at kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools around the Czech Republic. The overall number of pupils has increased by 30,000 since September last year, though demographic trends have resulted in a decline in numbers at secondary schools. 

Zeman tells schoolchildren he would vote for Rychetský as president

01-09-2015 11:35 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech president, Milos Zeman, told children at a primary school on Tuesday that if he were to choose his successor it would be Pavel Rychetský, the chairman of the Constitutional Court. He made the comment in a discussion with older pupils during a visit to their school in Prague as it reopened after the summer. Justice Rychetský served as deputy prime minister in a government headed by Mr. Zeman in the late 1990s. In an opinion poll in June he was named the third most trustworthy senior state official. 

PM says army ready to help cope with migrant crisis

01-09-2015 10:03 | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says the Czech military is on standby to help cope with the migrant crisis if the situation should dramatically worsen. Following talks with President Milos Zeman on Monday, Mr. Sobotka said that the police still had the situation under control and had so far not requested assistance. However he said the migrant situation in neigbouring states was being closely monitored and in the event of need the army was prepared to deploy between 900 and 2,600 soldiers in the border areas at short notice. President Miloš Zeman said on Monday that unless the EU takes effective measures to secure its outer borders the Czech Republic should move on its own to step up border security. 

Police detain over 200 migrants in Břeclav

01-09-2015 09:39 | Daniela Lazarová

Police in the Moravian border town of Břeclav detained over 200 migrants on international trains from Austria and Hungary in the course of Monday night. The vast majority of them were from Syria and the group included 61 children. They were accommodated at local sports facilities and will gradually be moved to asylum centres in Moravia. According to the ctk news agency the police were prepared for the influx and had busses on standby. The Moravian authorities have been gearing up for a steep rise in the number of migrants after Hungary enabled them to board Western-bound trains en masse in order to alleviate the situation on overcrowded railway stations. 

Bank of China Czech branch to start operating by end of year

31-08-2015 18:45 | Daniela Lazarová

Bank of China, one of the biggest state-owned banks in China, will start operating a branch in the Czech Republic by the end of this year, Wenbo Hou, the head of the bank´s preparatory committee, told journalists at the branch´s ceremonial opening at the Prague Castle on Monday. The bank’s Czech branch will focus on the financing of large, medium-sized and small companies, provide cross-border services to these companies, including business recommendations, financial support, prevention of risks and consulting. 

NGOs urge Czech politicians not to ignore human rights abuses by authoritarian regimes

31-08-2015 17:05 | Daniela Lazarová

A group of NGOs have urged Czech politicians not to ignore human rights abuses by authoritarian regimes when travelling to countries where people are threatened with torture, imprisonment or even death over their beliefs. An appeal signed by 30 NGOs sums up the basic principles Czech officials should take into account while on foreign trips to dictatorial countries, including meetings with dissidents and independent journalists as well as caution in making public statements that can be abused by the local propaganda machine. The appeal was signed by People in Need, Forum 2000, the Czech Helsinki Committee, Prague Pride and the Organization for Aid to Refugees. 

Czech president to meet with Russian president on visit to China

31-08-2015 16:52 | Daniela Lazarová

Czech President Miloš Zeman will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during his forthcoming visit to China, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said on Monday. The talks are to be held following a military parade and a reception that Chinese President Xi Jinping will host for foreign participants attending the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. He said meetings with Zeman´s Chinese counterpart and other politicians are also planned. 

Finance minister calling for special EU summit on migrant crisis

31-08-2015 16:38 | Daniela Lazarová

Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has criticized the European Commission for what he called its slow response to the migrant crisis and expressed the view that the situation now merits an emergency meeting of EU leaders. Mr. Babiš said it was vital to protect the Schengen border free zone effectively and to start differentiating between refugees and economic migrants in search of a better life. He stressed that it was high time to agree on a systemic solution across the EU and to start implementing it. The Czech Republic is one of the EU states which rejected the idea of migrant quotas, although the government has promised to take in 1500 refugees in the course of the next two years. 

President Zeman warns migrant influx will escalate

31-08-2015 14:37 | Daniela Lazarová

President Milos Zeman has said that unless the EU takes more effective steps to secure its borders against the growing influx of migrants, the Czech Republic should take unilateral action in this respect. At a press briefing in Prague the president said that he expected the migrant wave to escalate due to the continuing turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East and predicted a tsunami effect since families and relatives would join those who had already been granted asylum in Europe. Mr. Zeman has previously stressed that Europe should not accommodate economic migrants. Mr. Zeman also took a swipe at the academics who signed a petition against xenophobia, saying they should take a migrant family into their own home before preaching to the public. 

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