News TOP 09, ODS eye electoral pact for Senate elections: report
Centre-right parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats (ODS) are preparing for an electoral pact for Senate elections due to take place in October, according to leaders of both parties cited in Friday’s edition of the business daily Hospodářské Noviny. TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek said that talks were also taking place on a regional level with a view that one of the parties would step aside and give the other a free run for selected Senate seats. A third of the Senate seats will be up for grabs with the overwhelming majority currently occupied by the Social Democrats, which at the moment has a majority in the upper chamber.
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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 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 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 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.
The prime ministers of the Višegrad Group countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, will meet in the coming days to discuss the migration crisis in Europe, the ctk news agency reports citing Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico. The Višegrad Four are increasingly concerned about the flow of migrants via the so-called west Balkans route. The Czech Republic has repeatedly called for joint EU action in protecting its outer borders and has offered countries along the Balkans route technical and material assistance to better secure their borders. Slovakia now fears that due to tightened checks along the Austrian border people smugglers will attempt to transport more refugees across Slovak territory.
The Liberec branch of the ruling Christian Democrats will meet later this week to decide on the possible expulsion from the party of its former chairman, Daniela Kalenda, who welcomed the deaths of the 71 refugees found in a van in Austria. In an entry on Facebook Kalenda spoke about the refugees as “dirt” that does not belong in Europe saying that they should have known better than to get into an enclosed van in the first place. Hours later he deleted the entry saying he had been heavily drunk when he posted it. He has resigned from all party posts.
Kevin Dahlgren a 21-year-old U.S. citizen wanted for the murder of four of his Czech relatives in Brno has been extradited to the Czech Republic to face murder charges. According to the Czech Justice Ministry Dahlgren arrived at Prague’s international Airport on Monday and a court will now rule on whether he will be placed in custody. Dahlgren is suspected of stabbing to death four Czech relatives with whom he was staying at the time. He fled the country just hours before the crime was uncovered. The United States is known to only extradite its citizens for prosecution abroad in exceptional cases. This is the first case ever in which a U.S. citizen has been extradited to the Czech Republic. If he is convicted he could face a life sentence.
A Prague court has passed a guilty verdict on a man who expressed approval of the suicide bomb attack that killed five Czech soldiers serving in NATO’s ISAF mission in eastern in Afghanistan in July of last year. The man, who praised the terrorist for “doing away with at least a few Czech mercenaries” on Facebook received a year long suspended sentence for publicly supporting a crime, inciting violence towards a group and insulting the memory of Czech soldiers who died in action on a foreign mission. Neither side has appealed the verdict.
Prague taxi drivers have announced a planned blockade of streets in the city centre on Tuesday. The precise route of the protest has not been disclosed. They are protesting against Prague City Hall’s plans to tighten regulations governing the service in the wake of numerous complaints from the public and tourists. According to City Halls plans all taxi drivers in Prague should gradually undergo tough new street knowledge and language tests. Prague City Hall has announced that it will boost public transport on the day of the protest.
Most immigrants are in the Czech Republic illegally, and as they violated law, they should be promptly returned, rather than placed into various accommodation facilities, President Miloš Zeman said in an interview for Radio Frekvence 1 on Sunday. According to the Czech head of state, the government decided to voluntarily accept 1,500 refugees, and therefore all the other immigrants were in the country illegally. Mr Zeman said that a crushing majority of migrants came for economic reasons, arguing that they also came from poor countries that were not hit by war, such as Eritrea, Senegal, Kosovo and Pakistan.