Daily news summary
PM Sobotka: Czech Republic supports European border guard
The Czech Republic supports the idea of establishing a European border guard that would help protect the outer Schengen border, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said ahead of the EU summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday. Mr Sobotka said that the protection of the outer EU borders had to be reinforced, either by extending the powers of the Frontex agency or with the help of a different, specialised agency financed from the European budget. The Czech Prime Minister has also repeated Prague was ready to contribute to a fund in aid of refugees and their countries of origin.
Foreign Minister Zaorálek supports Bosnia in EU integration efforts
The Czech Republic is ready to assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in its efforts leading to the country’s eventual integration in the European Union. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, made the statement on Thursday after the launch of the Sarajevo Business Forum attended by representatives of Czech and Bosnian companies. The Czech Foreign Minister, who arrived in Sarajevo for a two-day visit on Wednesday, also met with Bosnian Trade and Economic Relations Minister Mirko Sarovic, who said he would like to increase mutual business relations between the two countries. Mr Zaorálek is also scheduled to meet with the country’s political leadership, before leaving for Zagreb on Thursday night
Three Syrian families arrive in Czech Republic
The first three Syrian families granted asylum in the Czech Republic arrived in Prague on Monday. Altogether five families with ill children are set to arrive in the country by the end of the year to receive treatment in Czech hospitals within the Medevac programme, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told public broadcaster Czech Radio on Thursday. The children suffer from heart defects or muscle dystrophia and can undergo treatment in the Czech Republic thanks to the MEDEVAC programme, which is primarily designed to help seriously ill children from regions afflicted by war. The Syrians are part of 400 refugees from camps in the Middle East the Czech Republic is ready to accept within a resettlement program.
Czech Republic to disclose funding total
The Czech Republic will likely disclose the sum it is contributing to the EU fund for aid to Syrian refugees in the Middle East at the EU summit on Thursday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the Czech News Agency after meeting the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. The prime minister did not elaborate but said the Czech Republic was already sponsoring a number of programmes, for example, supporting specific refugee camps in Jordan. He said the spectrum across which the country was contributing was fairly broad and that the sums should be tabulated together. On Thursday, Mr Sobotka is expected to have at his disposal analysis of Czech humanitarian activities drafted by the Foreign Ministry which should make it clear just how much the Czech Republic has already contributed. EU members are to spend 500 million euros on aid to the refugees from Syria in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
Four people charged in corruption case in Olomouc
Four people, including the Olomouc regional governor Jiří Rozbořil, have been charged in connection with a highly-publicized corruption case. The charges include abuse of office and offering and accepting bribes, Pavel Hanták, the spokesman for the Czech police unit fighting organised crime, said on Thursday.
Charges have also been brought against the deputy head of the Olomouc regional police force Karel Kadlec, the head of the region’s police department for economic crime Radek Petruj, and Ivan Kyselý one of the most influential businessmen in the region. The four are believed to have been part of an influential corruption ring suspected of having manipulated public tenders, influenced the selection of candidates for key posts in public administration and marred police investigations.
Olomouc regional governor denies charges of corruption
The Olomouc regional governor Jiří Rozbořil has denied any wrongdoing in a corruption case in which he and three others were charged with bribery and abuse of office and said he would file a complaint. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said called for a meeting of the National Security Council with regard to the gravity of the case. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Wednesday that he was not planning to call a special meeting of the council, but he has called on the governor to resign.
Finance Minister Babiš wants to increase Czech Army’s budget
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has said the army should get more funds from the state budget in view of the need to respond to the heightened threat of terrorism. Mr Babiš said during a visit of a military garrison in Přáslavice in the Olomouc region that the Czech Army had been significantly underfinanced in the past years. According to the finance minister, the military should have at least 52 billion crowns at its disposal by 2017, which is eight billion more than it currently has. He also said the armed forces were currently short of around 5,000 soldiers as well as lacking modern military equipment.
Social entrepreneurship on rise in Czech Republic
The number of companies employing disadvantaged people in the Czech Republic has been increasing over the past years. According to the P3 company which monitors the country’s social entrepreneurship, their number has tripled over the last three years from around seventy in 2012 to over 200 this year. Employees of the companies include people with various handicaps, former prisoners, homeless or long-term unemployed people. Most of the companies offer catering, cleaning and gardening services.
Group to call on ministry to learn about condition of Michalák boys
A group backing Eva Michaláková, whose children were taken from her in Norway by the country’s children’s welfare service, say they will petition the Czech Foreign Ministry to learn about the condition of the two brothers, aged six and ten. They expressed serious concerns following some media reports. Mrs Michaláková lost the right to have regular contact with her children on the suspicion of past sexual abuse but the allegations were never proven in court. The mother has been fighting for the return of the children since. Recently, the Norwegian authorities ruled the younger child could be adopted by his foster parents and that the mother would no longer be allowed even limited access to the older boy. The move prompted marked sharp criticism by Prague; the mother of the children is appealing the decision.
Signal festival of light gets underway in Prague
The annual Signal festival of light art will get underway in Prague on Thursday night. The event will offer site-specific installations, video mapping on historic buildings, and other events around the city. The third edition of the festival is expected to attract around 500,000 people. Among the biggest guests this year is French visual artist Joanie Lemercier and US sculptor Janet Echelman. The Signal festival of light art will run until Sunday.