News Heavy storms cause flooding of cellars and roads

27-05-2014 16:49 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic was hit by severe storms on Tuesday, with heavy rain and hail flooding cellars and roads. In Prague fire officers were called out to deal with flooding at around two dozen spots, including the basement of the National Library, the vestibule of Můstek metro station and a theatre. More heavy storms are forecast for Wednesday.

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Czech foreign minister backs creation of asylum camps in Africa

01-07-2015 14:46 | Chris Johnstone

Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek has said he would support the creation of camps in North Africa where the European Union could process asylum applications. Zaorálek said that siting such camps in Libya would be the most logical solution but that the EU does not have a real partner to negotiate with there. Libya is currently in the midst of a power battle with different factions having control over different parts of the country. The Czech foreign minister said that other African countries showed little interest in such camps either. The idea of such camps is backed by Czech prime minster Bohulsav Sobotka and finance minister Andrej Babiš. 

Czech asylum applications rise in 2014

01-07-2015 14:44 updated | Chris Johnstone

Applications for asylum in the Czech Republic rose in 2014 to total 1,154 but most of those making demands were from Eastern Europe, overwhelmingly from Ukraine. Applications from European countries accounted for just over 57 percent of the demands, those from Asian countries 31 percent, and African countries just under eight percent. The total number of asylum applications is a fifth of the total made in 2004. With the latest wave of immigration to Europe and a doubling the number of illegal immigrants found on Czech territory this year the number of asylum applications is expected to rise. 

Benin folk group caught by police

01-07-2015 13:04 | Chris Johnstone

Stepped up Czech police checks for suspicious looking illegal immigrants had an unfortunate result in the east Moravian town of Uherské Hradiště. A group of 11 foreigners from the West African state of Benin were taken into police custody after they were found without papers. It later emerged that they were from a group taking part in the famous International Folk Festival at nearby Strážnice who had gone on an excursion and left their papers in the hotel. The festival organisers intervened to arrange their release. 

Proposal for quotas for women election candidates rejected

01-07-2015 13:02 | Chris Johnstone

The government on Wednesday rejected a proposal calling for parties to set a minimum 40 percent quota for women candidates in parliamentary and regional elections, the Czech News Agency reported. The proposal had been put forward by the Social Democrat ministers responsible for human rights and the interior. But the plan however has long been opposed by their coalition government colleagues from the ANO and Christian Democrat parties. Around a quarter of election candidates are currently women with a slightly lower number usually winning seats in the lower house of parliament. 

Petr Čech says almost moved to Arsenal in 2003

01-07-2015 12:15 | Chris Johnstone

Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech revealed Wednesday that he was close to moving to Arsenal in 2003 from his French club Rennes. At a press conference in Prague, Čech said that the only thing that stopped the transfer then were problems getting a work permit for Britain. Čech later moved to Chelsea. The 33-year-old ‘keeper said that Arsenal had the ambition and talent to win trophies and he would not have moved there if that had not been the case. His transfer from Chelsea, where he was recently number two goalkeeper, was confirmed on Monday. 

Petr Drulák steps down as deputy minister at foreign ministry

01-07-2015 12:13 | Chris Johnstone

Deputy minister for foreign affairs Petr Drulák is leaving his post as the second in command at the minister after minister Lubomír Zaorálek. Drulák, who has been in the post for around the last 18 months, said he agreed to terminate his tenure with Zaorálek. His will continue as political secretary of the minister. His place will be taken by Lukáš Kuacký who has up till now been in charge of the ministry’s logistics and services. Drulák was widely perceived as being one of the main movers in the switch of Czech foreign policy towards China and other authoritarian regimes which distanced the country from the humanitarian stand taken under former president Václav Havel and those close to him. 

UEFA chief Platini opens new Czech FA HQ and Hall of Fame in Prague

01-07-2015 08:12 | Ian Willoughby

The president of European football’s governing body, Michel Platini, has officially opened the new headquarters of the Czech Football Association at Prague’s Strahov. The centre includes the Czech game’s first Hall of Fame, which features a special section dedicated to the three biggest figures in the history of Czech soccer: Josef Masopust, Josef “Pepi” Bican, and Pavel Nedvěd. Platini and other UEFA delegates were in Prague for the final of the Under 21 European Championship, in which Sweden beat Portugal on penalties. 

Czech Republic takes over presidency of Visegrad Four

01-07-2015 08:03 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic on Wednesday takes over the year-long presidency of the Visegrad Four group, which also includes Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. Among Prague’s main priorities will be to boost the internal cohesion of the regional grouping, foster increased co-operation in energy, security and defence, and help develop the four states’ digital economies. The Czech Republic will host two Visesgrad summits during its presidency while next February the quartet’s foreign ministers will mark the 25th anniversary of the existence of the regional bloc. 

Hundreds demonstrate in Prague against acceptance of refugees

30-06-2015 19:23 | Ian Willoughby

Hundreds of people demonstrated in Prague on Tuesday against the acceptance of refugees into the Czech Republic. Protestors spoke out against government plans to take in hundreds of asylum seekers on a voluntary basis as part of an EU scheme. The groups Bloc Against Islam and We Don’t Want Islam in the CR, which organised the demonstration, said they would field candidates in next year’s regional elections in response to the decision. Eggs were thrown at participants by opponents of the rally. 

Sobotka to present PM’s Medal to RFE’s Pecháček and Klose

30-06-2015 19:13 | Ian Willoughby

Czech leader Bohuslav Sobotka has announced plans to present his Prime Minister’s Medal to journalist Pavel Pecháček and Kevin Klose, the former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in recognition of their contribution to democracy and freedom. The PM praised the two at a meeting on Tuesday marking the 20th anniversary of RFE/RL’s move to Prague from Munich, in which Mr. Klose – along with Václav Havel – played a major role. Mr. Pecháček worked for RFE after 1968 and in headed its Czech-language broadcasting in the early 1990s. 

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