News Unemployment rate remains unchanged in February
The unemployment rate in February remained unchanged from January’s 8.6 percent while the number of job seekers dropped by 0.6 percent to roughly 625,000; the amount of job vacancies, however, grew, the Czech Employment Office said. February often sees high unemployment figures, but the office said this year’s mild winter had had a positive effect. The unemployment figure is expected to drop in the coming months due to seasonal jobs.
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One third of Czechs would vote for Miloš Zeman if he stands in the 2018 presidential elections, according to a poll carried out by ppm factum agency in August. The Czech head of state was elected two years ago in the second round of elections with 32 percent of the vote; the poll suggests he would currently get 33 percent of the vote. When asked about the likely candidates for the next presidential elections, president Zeman was mentioned by 10 percent of respondents, followed by the current Finance Minister Andrej Babiš with seven percent and former Prime Minister Jan Fisher with six percent. Among the other names mentioned were Zeman’s previous election rivals Karel Schwarzenberg and Dawn Party leader Tomio Okamura.
Police have charged two people who threw eggs at President Miloš Zeman at a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution last November, police spokesman Tomáš Hulan said on Thursday. The incident at Prague’s Albertov was previously treated as a misdemeanour, which could have been punished with a fine, but the state prosecutor ordered the police to investigate it as disorderly conduct. If found guilty, the offenders could face up to two years in prison. The head of state had angered critics by some of his comments in support of Russia and his use of offensive language on state radio.
The Czech Police Presidium will set rules on how to identify migrants arriving in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday. The announcement came in reaction to foreign media and Jewish organisations criticising Czech police officers for writing numbers on the hands of 214 migrants at Břeclav railway station on Monday night. In its report on Wednesday, the BBC noted that the ink marks carried an unfortunate visual resemblance to the Holocaust. The Interior Ministry said that it was not a standard procedure, adding that the officers were under pressure of time and tried to keep family members together.
The newly-built Blanka tunnel in Prague is set to open on September 20, deputy mayor Petr Dolínek said on Thursday, adding that no special ceremony was planned for the event. The tunnel, which has been under construction since 2007, was originally scheduled to open in 2011 but has been dogged by problems. The latest deadline in April had to be postponed after it turned out that hundreds of kilometres of electric cables had to be replaced after being damaged by rainfall. The tunnel, which has come under criticism for massive cost overruns, has cost Prague nearly 37 billion crowns. It is currently undergoing final testing of technologies and security systems.
The Czech Post office has issued a special edition of stamps in honour of Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of 669, mostly Jewish children, by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia before the outbreak of WWII. Sir Nicholas died on July 1 this year at the age of 106. The 13-crown stamp, entitled Tribute to Sir Nicholas, was designed by graphic artist Zdeněk Netopil. It was issued in 750,000 pieces and went on sale on Wednesday.
Czech President Miloš Zeman held talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Beijing on Thursday. The two heads of state are in China attending the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. The two officials discussed security issues and the Czech president called on Russia to join the international effort to stop Islamic State terrorism. On the subject of bilateral relations, Mr Putin said he hoped that the trade exchange between Russia and the Czech Republic, now affected by sanctions, would improve. Miloš Zeman met with Vladimir Putin for the second time this year. In May, they conducted talks in Moscow on the occasion of the end of war celebrations.
Czech police officers will no longer detain Syrian migrants, claiming asylum in Hungary but trying to reach Germany, the foreigners’ police department has revealed. The Czech Republic has seen a growing number of refugees travelling from Hungary to the Czech Republic to try and reach their German neighbours. As of now, the Czechs will offer Syrians already registered in Hungary asylum in the Czech Republic as well; Syrian migrants who decline are to be escorted to railway stations from where will be allowed to continue their journey.
Prague City Hall is preparing plans to help up to 200 refugee families, Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek has said. The idea was presented at a council meeting on Wednesday but the city will still have to draw up details for debate. The deputy mayor indicated that security was not the only factor in the current migrant crisis but also human decency. The aim is to especially help those with the very youngest children; families would not all be located in one area but across a number of city districts.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek approves three million crowns in humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip to be used in reconstruction and renewal. The funds are to proceed through UNWRA, the UN’s relief and human development agency. The Czech Republic is continuing in its policy to provide aid for the Palestine autonomous territories.
Some 90 firefighters have completed putting up a refugee camp, comprising of 25 tents, in Břeclav-Poštorná to house an eventual 300 inhabitants. The camp is located at a monitored site; locals have also asked for increased security on town streets by the local police. Mayor Pavel Dominik and South Moravian governor Michal Hašek spoke to journalists, with the mayor saying that while locals were not happy about the centre it was better than migrants moving freely through the town and causing a fuss. He added the situation was “complicated but not tragic”. The town on Tuesday filed charges against an individual who tried to cause a stir by posting falsely on the internet that the camp was full with 4,000 people. The mayor stressed that it is empty at this time.