Daily news summary


Prague proposes Višegrad Group jointly protect Hungary’s southern border

The Czech Republic has proposed that the Višegrad Group states jointly protect Hungary’s stretch of Schengen’s outer border, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wrote on Twitter Friday. According to the Czech prime minister the interior ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland will meet to discuss the details.According to Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec the Czech Republic would be prepared to send over 100 soldiers and police officers as well as technology.Hungarian officials have also spoken about the possibility of joint protection of the country’s southern border.As an EU buffer state Hungary has been hard hit by the migrant crisis.

Lower house moves to tighten asylum law

The lower house of Parliament has approved an amendment to the country’s asylum law, tightening the conditions under which asylum can be granted. For instance, foreign nationals requesting asylum would have to get a health certificate ruling out infectious diseases and the authorities would have the right to reject asylum if the applicant has been convicted of a serious crime or presents a security threat. Foreign nationals who commit serious crimes and are sentenced to more than three years in jail or repeat offenders can be stripped of their residence permits. On the other hand the amendment will enable those who are granted asylum to start work after a six months period rather than wait a whole year. The bill received broad support across the political spectrum and will now go to the Senate for debate.

Czech NGOs call for better approach to migrants

A consortium of 18 Czech non-governmental organizations working with migrants has issued a document in which it outlines the basic principles the country should adhere to in dealing with immigrants. The principles relate to the country’s asylum policy, social rights, education, work and other spheres. NGOs have repeatedly criticized the government for the country’s treatment of migrants, particularly the fact that they are held captive in detention centres, including small children, and have their money and phones taken away from them. Critics say that migrants are viewed merely as a security threat and migrant-related issues are left to the Interior Ministry instead of meriting a comprehensive approach from various institutions.

Seventy politicians and activists protest against pig farm in Lety

More than 70 MEPs, members of national parliaments and activists from 22 European countries have signed an appeal for the removal of a pig farm in Lety, south Bohemia, built on the site of a former Romany internment camp, the civic association Konexe said on Friday. The signatories include former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, Italian Literature Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo and former Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos. According to the petition, the pitiful state of the locality reflects the persecution and discrimination that Romanies still face in Europe today. Several Czech governments pledged to remove the pig farm from Lety but failed to find money for a buyout. Some 1,300 Czech Romanies passed through the camp between 1940 and 1943; round 330 of them died there, while another 500 were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Lower house approves higher consumer tax on cigarettes and tobacco

The lower house of Parliament has approved a bill which would gradually raise consumer tax on cigarettes and tobacco products in the course of the next three years. The first hike would take place on January 1st 2016 and increase the price of a pack of cigarettes by three to four crowns. The increase in state revenues would amount to 3.3 billion crowns in 2016 and 1.5 billion in the following two years. The bill will now go to the Senate.

Cost of IDs and city hall services to increase

The lower house of Parliament has approved an amendment to the law on the conditions of issuing IDs and certificates. The proposed changes would increase the price for an express biometric passport to 4,000 crowns up from the present 1,500. Such a document would be ready within six days instead of a fortnight and it would not have restricted validity. The basic cost of a biometric passport which is issued within 30 days would remain 600 crowns. People over 70 years of age would get IDs with a validity of 35 years instead of the present 10 to save them the bother of having to get them renewed. The increase in the price of some services should bring city halls an additional 156 million crowns.

Sobotka: Czech-German relations at high despite differences on refugees

Despite differences over refugee quotas, Czech-German relations are the best they have been in the modern era, says the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. His comments came at a reception at Prague’s German Embassy celebrating the anniversary of German reunification and followed a report in Hospodářské noviny quoting diplomats as saying the two states’ relations were at their lowest point in two decades. The daily said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had refused to answer the phone to Mr. Sobotka ahead of an EU meeting at which Prague was outvoted on refugee quotas. The Czech PM said at Thursday evening’s event that he was convinced the two countries would remain partners.

Legendary Czech actor Lubomír Lipský dies at 92

The legendary Czech actor Lubomír Lipský has died at the age of 92. The actor who appeared in hundreds of film and theatre performances died in hospital after a bout of pneumonia. Lipský co-founded the Prague Theatre of Satire and since 1996 was a member of the Divadlo ABC theatre house. In film he excelled as a comic actor. In 2005 he received the prestigious Thalia Award for lifelong contribution to theatre, in 2008 the František Filipovský Prize for dubbing and in 2013 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and a received a Medal of Merit from President Miloš Zeman.

Transport plane makes emergency landing at Prague Airport

A transport plane flying from Ostrava to Birmingham made an emergency landing at Prague’s Vaclav Havel International Airport on Thursday evening after the pilots reported hearing a ticking sound on board. The plane landed shortly after 10 pm. Police and explosives experts searched the aircraft but found nothing suspicious and were unable to locate the source of the ticking sound that triggered the alarm. The plane continued on its journey on Friday morning.

Liberec achieve away win over Marseille in Europa League

Czech soccer club Slovan Liberec notched up a surprise away win over Olympique Marseille in a Europa League group game on Thursday night. The only goal of the game came from defender Vladimír Coufal with his first strike for Liberec after three years at the club. Sparta Prague were also in action in European club football’s second-tier competition, beating Cypriot side APOEL 2:0 in the Czech capital. Viktoria Plzeň fared less well on Thursday, losing 1:0 away to Spanish league leaders Villareal.