News Czech PM: Greater cooperation on defense needed among V4 countries

15-05-2014 12:24 | Jan Velinger

The Visegrad 4 (comprising the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) should increase cooperation on defense, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday at a V4 meeting in Bratislava. Mr Sobotka stressed that NATO was the pillar of security in eastern and central Europe; the alliance has gained new urgency and purpose following Russia’s military intervention in Crimea and the amassment of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he was in favour of a larger NATO presence – some 3,000 to 4,000 troops – on the alliance’s eastern border by 2016. Earlier this week, the Czech defence minister, Martin Stropnický, fumbled an interview with Reuters when he suggested a majority of Czechs would be unhappy with foreign troops on the ground, as they still remembered Soviet troops in the country after 1968. He later shifted his position, putting forward a declaration reaffirming the Czech Republic’s commitment to NATO. The declaration passed in the lower house on Wednesday.

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Czech border checks along German border to be tightened

27-07-2016 13:26 | Chris Johnstone

Checks at the border between the Czech Republic and Germany will be stepped up, minister of interior Milan Chovanec has announced. The minister said the reason for the move was the fear that unsuccessful asylum applicants in Germany might seek to move to neighbouring countries rather than be sent back to their countries of origin. The Czech minister highlighted recent comments from some German politicians that hundreds of failed applicants will be returned. He added that Czech police already had pinpointed areas where they could try and cross the border illegally. 

Court throws out cases over explosions at Vrbětice munitions depot

27-07-2016 12:53 | Chris Johnstone

A court in Zlín on Wednesday threw out charges against five people from two arms firms connected with the explosion of munitions at a depot in Vrbětice in the far south east of the country. Two explosions at the site late in 2014 resulted in two deaths. Some of the accused had been facing prison sentences of up to 12 years storing illegal arms. The two companies involved in the proceedings were arms company Excalibar Army and trading company Real Trade Praha. 

Czech Cabinet proposes new punishments for financing and propagating terrorism

27-07-2016 12:31 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Cabinet on Wednesday approved changes to the country’s criminal code which better define the acts of financing and propagating terrorism and the penalties attached. The proposed changes will result in a maximum 12 year prison sentence for financing terrorism and the confiscation of all assets. A speedy passage through parliament has been urged. Separately, Minister of Interior Milan Chovanec outlined precise steps to be taken in reaction to various stages of terror alert. The moves are largely inspired from the practices in the US and Israel. 

Škoda Auto sees first half sales surge

27-07-2016 11:49 | Chris Johnstone

The biggest car maker in the Czech Republic, Škoda Auto, has reported a 4.6 percent rise in car deliveries in the first half of the year compared with the first six months of 2015. The total came to just over 569,000. The main reasons are strong demand in the key European and Chinese markets and good figures for the down market Fabia and up market Yeti and Superb models. Sales in June eased slightly but were still 4.4 percent higher year on year. Deliveries to China were 12 percent up on the same month a year earlier. 

KMV boosts first half turnover and operating profits

27-07-2016 11:48 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Republic’s biggest mineral water company, Karlovarské mineralní vody (KMV), has boosted turnover in the first half of the year by 21 percent compared with the same period in 2015. The total turnover for the six months came to 3.6 billion crowns. Operating profit climbed by 30 percent. The strong performance is due to growing demand for spring and bottled water. As well the core activities in the Czech Republic, the family owned company based on Karlovy Vary also has mineral water also operations in Hungary and Austria. 

Babiš: Czech Republic shouldn’t accept any refugees

27-07-2016 09:06 | Ian Willoughby

The head of the second biggest party in the Czech government, Andrej Babiš of ANO, says he is opposed to accepting any refugees from Turkey under a European Union scheme. The minister of finance and deputy prime minister wrote on his Facebook page that he did not believe such refugees could be integrated into Czech society. Attempting to do so would be a huge risk in view of the atrocities carried out in Germany by people denied asylum, Mr. Babiš said. It was reported on Tuesday that the Czech Republic would take in 80 refugees from Turkey and 10 from Greece. ANO have consistently led in opinion polls for some time. 

Hollande cancels Prague visit after killing of priest

27-07-2016 07:48 | Ian Willoughby

The French president, Francois Hollande, has cancelled a planned visit to Prague on Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday’s brutal killing of a priest in a church near Rouen in an attack claimed by Islamic State. Mr. Hollande had been due to visit the Czech capital last week but cancelled that trip after a terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day that left 84 dead. The French leader will speak to Czech President Miloš Zeman by telephone on Wednesday, the latter’s spokesperson said. 

Czech sides draw in Champions League qualifiers

27-07-2016 07:29 | Ian Willoughby

Czech football title-holders Viktoria Plzeň could only manage a 0:0 home draw with Quarabag of Azerbaijan in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie on Tuesday night. A score draw or win in next week’s return leg would see Plzeň through to the final qualifying round for the prestigious competition. Sparta Prague, meanwhile, drew 1:1 at home with Romanian side Steaua Bucharest at the same stage of qualification. 

Czech tourist dies after being struck by lightning in Tatras

26-07-2016 20:14 | Ian Willoughby

A Czech tourist died on Tuesday after being struck by lightning in the Western Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, the local mountain service said. The man, who was aged 36 and came from the Moravian town of Kroměříž, was hit while on the ridge between the Predný Salatín and Brestová mountains and could not be revived after sustaining a serious head injury. 

LN: Czech Republic to take in 80 Syrian refugees

26-07-2016 16:39 updated | Jan Velinger

The Czech Republic will take in 80 Syrian migrants in Turkish refugee camps per the European Union’s agreement with Turkey, Czech daily Lidové noviny reports. The newspaper cited Czech Interior Ministry spokeswoman Hana Malá as confirming the move. The exact date of their arrival was not specified but they are expected in the Czech Republic sometime in October. Two weeks ago the Czech Republic received files on Syrian refugees interested in applying for asylum from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; vetting is being conducted by the security services. Ten refugees from camps in Greece will also be accepted under the EU scheme. 


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