Daily news summary


Only one asylum application in 10 approved in Czech Republic last year

Last year the Czech Ministry of the Interior granted asylum to one in 10 applicants, iRozhlas.cz reported on Tuesday, citing data from Eurostat. The chance of asylum being granted in this country is three times lower than the EU average, the news site said.

The total number of people who received asylum or additional protection from the Czech authorities in 2018 was 155, equivalent to 15 per million inhabitants.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of the Interior said the Czech authorities received fewer applications from citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq – who are considered most in danger – than states such as Germany and Greece.

The Czech Republic has a higher percentage of asylum seekers from countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Cuba and Armenia.

State to spend billions on combatting drought

The Czech Republic is planning to spend billions in the coming decades on fighting drought. Speaking on Tuesday after a meeting of the National Coalition to Combat Drought, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said CZK 24 billion would be invested into connecting different water supply systems. The state will also spend CZK 6 billion on renewing mains pipelines.

The minister of the environment, Richard Brabec, said further money could be drawn from EU funds and that a total of around CZK 50 billion would be invested.

Mr. Babiš said the prognosis was not good and this year could be the sixth in succession in which the country experiences drought. He said solving water shortages was the most pressing challenge facing his government.

European Commission lowers Czech growth outlook to 2.6 percent

The European Commission has revised its outlook for the growth of the Czech economy this year downwards. It said on Tuesday that gross domestic product was likely to expand by 2.6 percent in 2019, down from the 2.9 percent it forecast in February.

The European Commission said it expected growth next year to reach 2.4 percent. Earlier this year it predicted a figure of 2.7 percent for 2020.

Officials also said they believed Czech unemployment would this year remain at 2.2 percent and would climb next year to 2.3 percent.

Thousands protests for independent judiciary, ‘Stork’s Nest’ investigation

Thousands again took to the streets of Prague, Brno and other cities on Monday to protest against the appointment of a new justice minister shortly after police proposed pressing charges of EU subsidy fraud against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

It was the second street protest called by the group A Million Moments for Democracy, which believe Marie Benešová was named justice minister in an attempt to thwart justice.

Mr Babiš and several of his family members are suspected of having illegally tapped into a 50 million crown EU subsidy a decade ago in what has come to be known as the Stork’s Nest affair.

If stripped of his immunity, tried and found guilty, Mr Babiš could face a prison sentence of between five and 10 years.

Zeman calls those who accuse him of being Putin agent “absolute idiots”

President Miloš Zeman says Czech or other European politicians who regard him as an agent of Russia’s Vladimir Putin are “absolute idiots”. Speaking in an interview with Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, Mr Zeman said he had also been accused of being an agent of China and Israel but was in fact an agent of the Czech Republic.

The Czech head of state said that the European Union lacked a strong leader, by contrast with the US, Russia and China.

Mr. Zeman said he had nothing against a Russian company winning a tender to construct new units at the Czech Republic’s Dukovany nuclear power plant.

Escaped prisoners hand themselves in to police for unlikely reasons

Two prisoners who went on the run turned themselves in to the police for unlikely sounding reasons, iDnes.cz reported. One of the two said he was unfamiliar with the South Moravia Region he had escaped to and moreover had uncomfortable shoes. The other called a police helpline after being beaten up.

The pair, who were aged 23 and 33 and had been convicted of theft, fled from an unguarded workplace in Prague at the end of last month.

Czechs set off by train for World Ice Hockey Championships in Slovakia

The Czech Republic’s ice hockey team travelled by train from Prague to Bratislava on Tuesday, three days before this year’s World Championships begin in Slovakia. Around 100 fans turned out to wish good luck to 15 members of the squad before they set off from the city’s Main Station on the four-hour journey. Other players were due to get on board in Brno and Břeclav.

The Czechs’ first game at the World Championships is on Friday night against Sweden, who lifted the trophy the last two years.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast with some sunny spells in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with daytime highs expected to reach up to 17 degrees Celsius. The following days are likely to see rain and a decline in temperatures.