Daily news summary
Czech officials: Višegrad Four summit agenda does not run counter German proposals for migrant crisis
Czech State Secretary for European Affairs Tomáš Prouza has confirmed that he was contacted by the German ambassador to Prague with regard to the agenda and goals of the Višegrad Four summit due to be held in Prague on Monday. According to Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico Germany has voiced objections to the fact that the Višegrad Four, comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, as well as representatives of Macedonia and Bulgaria would be discussing plans to beef-up security at the Bulgarian and Macedonian border if Greece should fail to bring the flow of migrants under control. The German weekly Der Spiegel wrote that plans by the Višegrad Four undermine EU unity in the need to secure the EU’s outer borders and Chancellor Merkel’s plan to solve the migrant crisis with the aid of Turkey.
Mr. Prouza dismissed these claims saying the Czech Republic and other V4 countries supported cooperation with Turkey in the solution to the migrant crisis but at the same time, they were prepared to intensify aid to Greece as well as to Macedonia and Bulgaria to help bring the influx of migrants under control. He noted that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently called on EU member states to provide bilateral aid to Macedonia. We consider it a natural part of the European solution to the migrant crisis, Prouza said.
The State Secretary for EU Affairs added that he had also debated the summit’s agenda with the Dutch ambassador to Prague as a representative of the EU presiding country and the head of the European Commission Representation in Prague in the past days.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said he did not perceive German questions about the Visegrad Four summit on migration as objections, but considered them a natural effort to clarify certain points and seek a joint approach in the migrant crisis.
Foreign minister criticizes military intelligence over Lebanese kidnapping case
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has criticized the decision of the country’s Military Intelligence to send one of its agents on an undercover mission to Lebanon where he was kidnapped along with a group of four other people. Speaking on a debate on TV Prima the minister said the decision was incomprehensibly risky and someone should be held accountable once the matter was thoroughly investigated. The minister also stressed the need to investigate the leaks of information regarding both the case of the five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon and the ransom paid by the Czech government for two young women kidnapped in Pakistan.
Prague court closes case of Qatari Prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani
A Prague district court has closed the case of Qatari Prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani who was tried in absentia in the Czech Republic on charges of sex abuse. Between 2001 and 2004 the prince allegedly paid to have sex with four girls under 15. A court sentenced him to 2.5 years in absentia due to the fact that he was in the meantime extradited to Qatar on the promise that he would be prosecuted there. Local prosecution dropped the case shortly after. In 2015 a Prague court lowered Sani’s sentence to 11 months and 8 days, the exact amount of time the prince spent in a Czech jail before his extradition. The international arrest warrant issued on him has also been cancelled.
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra honours its conductor with special concert
The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra gave a special concert in Prague’s Rudolfinum on Saturday night in honour of the 70th birthday of its conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. The orchestra played some of the conductor’s favourite compositions and the audience gave him a standing ovation. Later Jiří Bělohlávek received the Artis Bohemiae Amicis award from Culture Minister Daniel Herman and a cake from the orchestra.
Dukovany power plant reconnects first and second unit to grid
The second unit of the Dukovany nuclear power has been reconnected to the grid and the plant’s first unit should start producing power on Sunday, the plant's spokesman Jiří Bezdek told the ctk news agency. The shutdowns of both units was longer than expected due to repeated checks of faulty welds. The plant’s first unit was out of operation since August of last year and the second since September 2015. The power utility ČEZ, which owns the power plant, lost 2.5 billion crowns due to the shutdown of the two units.
Two police cars set on fire in Prague
Two police cars parked outside a police station in Prague were set on fire in the night hours, the ctk news agency reported. Both cars belonged to the traffic police. The incident is being investigated as suspected arson.
Jeseníky mountain service calls second degree avalanche alert
The mountain rescue service in Jeseníky Mountains has called a second degree avalanche alert, the highest alert called this season. Relatively mild temperatures, strong winds and heavy snowfall over the weekend are reported to have created a highly unstable layer of snow on many slopes. Skiers have been warned not to take risks or stray from marked trails.