Daily news summary
Interior Minister: Czech government not planning to accept more refugees voluntarily
The Czech government is not considering raising the number of migrants the Czech Republic is going to accept on a voluntary basis, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told journalists during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday. He said the government can see no reason to accept more than the 1,100 refugees it previously promised. The government on Wednesday authorised the Interior Minister to reject mandatory quotas for migrants at the forthcoming talks with his EU counterparts in Brussels on September 14. According to the latest EU proposal officially presented by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday, the Czech Republic should accept about 3,000 refugees.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš calls on NATO to destroy human smugglers’ ships
Finance Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš has called on NATO to destroy human smugglers’ ships in the Mediterranean. In a press release issued on Wednesday, Mr Babiš said NATO should launch an operation similar to the Operation Ocean Shield launched against Somali pirates in August this year. He also suggested NATO should strengthen security on Turkey’s boarders. The Finance Minister said he wanted to discuss the topic with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is scheduled to arrive in Prague on Wednesday afternoon for a two-day visit.
US military convoy enters Czech Republic
The first part of a US military convoy, which is heading from a US base in Germany’s Vilseck to a NATO ground forces military exercise in Hungary, entered the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The convoy crossed the Czech-German at border in Rozvadov near Plzeň at around 10 a.m. The main part of the convoy, made up of around 150 armoured combat vehicles and over 500 military personnel, is expected to arrive in the country on Sunday. The convoy is heading for the town of Vyškov, where the troops will spend the night at the Czech army’s military barracks. In March of this year a similar convoy travelled through the Czech Republic following operations in the Baltic States.
Commemoration of Ryszard Siwiec’s 1968 self-immolation held in Prague
Around two dozen people have attended a ceremony in Prague commemorating Ryszard Siwiec’s self-immolation in protest at Poland’s involvement in the occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Siwiec died on September 12, 1968 after setting himself on fire at a Warsaw sports stadium. A new book about the Polish accountant’s life and protest action by Czech historian Petr Blažek was launched at Tuesday evening’s commemoration.
Coalition leaders split over role for NATO in refugee crisis
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats, says NATO has nothing to do with resolving Europe’s refugee crisis. The deputy prime minister, ANO’s Andrej Babiš, has called for the military alliance to help deal with the unprecedented situation. Mr. Sobotka said Europe itself needed to resolve the problem and that NATO’s role lay elsewhere. The leader of the third party in the coalition, Pavel Bělobrádek of the Christian Democrats said Mr. Babiš’s comments on how to respond to the refugee crisis showed he did not read government materials very often.
Government postpones debate on state budget for 2016
The government has postponed a debate on the 2016 state budget which was scheduled to take place at its session on Wednesday. The Finance Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš said prior to the meeting that he regarded the state budget ceiling of 70 billion crowns as an optimal one and did not plan to make any major changes. However, the finance minister will have to negotiate with the heads of individual ministries, in particular the Ministry for Regional Affairs as well as the interior and culture ministries, who are asking for increased funds for their resorts. President Zeman, who attended Wednesday’s meeting, said he was ready to sign the budget if the proposed deficit is maintained. The final version of the state deficit for 2016 should be approved by the end of September.
Number of foreign tourists in Czech Republic up by nearly 10 percent
Nearly 12.5 million foreign tourists visited the Czech Republic in the first half of 2015, which is 9.5 percent more than in the previous year, according to figures released by Czech Tourism and the Czech Statistics Office on Wednesday. The highest number of tourists, 6.4 million, arrived only for one day and most of them came for shopping. Visitors from Germany amounted to more than a half of the one-day visitors. Around 4.9 million tourists stayed in the country for two or more days, and over a million visitors were transiting the Czech Republic.
Police charge ten people over collapse of bridge in Vilémov
Police have charged ten people with criminal negligence over the collapse of a bridge in Vilémov in the central Vysočina region last year which left four people dead. The bridge collapsed last September, burying six construction workers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia under the rubble. Among the people charged are representatives of the construction firms involved in the renovation of the structure as well as the investor company. If found guilty, they are facing from three up to ten years in prison.
Number of Czech dollar millionaires reaches 21,400
The number of dollar millionaires in the Czech Republic has reached 21,400, which is about a tenth more than in the previous year, according to figures released by Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management on Wednesday. The wealth of dollar millionaires around the world increased by seven percent and reached a record 56.4 US dollars. The number of Czech dollar millionaires is growing faster than in the rest of the world due to the country’s increasing GDP, state savings and record high foreign trade surplus, according to the head of the Czech branch of Capgemini Zdeněk Přibyl. One million US dollars currently amounts to around 24.2 million crowns.
Gunpowder explosion in Polička leaves two injured
Some 500 tonnes of gunpowder are believed to have exploded in the machine works factory in Polička on the Czech-Moravian border leaving two people injured, a spokeswoman for the local firefighters told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. The explosion occurred at around seven in the morning. Eight firefighter units were called in to fight the blaze, which spread to a nearby forest. The company, Poličské strojírny, produces pneumatic systems and elements and technologies for measurement and drawing of liquids.