The Czech minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, says the external borders of the Schengen Zone should be immediately closed so as to prevent an influx of refugees into the territory. Speaking on Tuesday, Mr. Babiš suggested NATO should become involved in operations to guard some of the zone’s external borders if the countries concerned were unable to do so themselves. He said a huge refugee camp should be set up where selection could be carried out to separate those in genuine need of help from economic migrants. President Miloš Zeman also called on Tuesday for increased security on Europe’s external borders. He said the agency tasked with policing it, Frontex, was not up to the job and suggested that the EU needed a joint army to carry out that role.
The candidates for this year’s Václav Havel Human Rights Prize have been announced. The three nominees for the award are the Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the organisation Women for Afghan Women and the Balkans-based Youth Initiative for Human Rights. The announcement was made on Tuesday by Anne Brasseur, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which with the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation bestows the prize. This year’s winner, the third, will be announced on September 30.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, will attend a military parade on Tiananmen Square during a visit to Beijing next month, according to an itinerary released by his office on Tuesday. He will be the only Western politician to take part in events in the Chinese capital marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific. It was reported recently that Mr. Zeman’s plans to attend the commemorations meant that the Czech Republic had prevented an EU-wide boycott. However, the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, said the decision not been questioned in Brussels. The EU is concerned that the show of military force could raise tensions with Japan and other countries in the region.
Czech soccer team manager Pavel Vrba has called up three-uncapped players for Euro 2016 qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Latvia in early September. Midfielders David Pavelka of Liberec and Jiří Skalák of Mladá Boleslav and Liberec goalkeeper Tomáš Koubek have been selected after impressive starts to the new domestic season. Defender Tomáš Kalas, who is currently at England’s Middlesbrough, has been recalled. Several regulars are either unavailable or not being selected at their clubs. The Czechs are second in their qualifying group behind Iceland.
Communist Party MP Marta Semelová is set to face trial over comments she made about politician Milada Horáková, executed by the Communists in 1950, and the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. The Prague 1 District Court is to hear a defamation action taken by TOP 09 lawyer Michal Kincl at the start of next year, according to court information posted on the internet. The police had previously said that Ms. Semelová’s comments on Czech Television in 2014 had not been a criminal offence. The deputy cast doubt over whether Milada Horáková’s confession had been forced and said the Soviet-led occupation of Czechoslovakia had in fact represented international help.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš wants the coalition to rescind a resolution on the creation of an industrial zone in Karviná. Mr. Babiš says the cabinet was unaware when it approved the CZK 200 million purchase of the site by the Moravian Silesian Region that it belonged to a company owned by magnate Zdeněk Bakala. In a statement the minister and billionaire businessman said it was unacceptable that the government had not been informed that public money was to be spent on land owned by somebody who has not fulfilled his obligations toward the Czech Republic or its citizens. Mr. Bakala recently sold a portfolio of over 40,000 apartments in Ostrava, a move which renters said had come as a surprise to them.
Prague’s Charles University has offered to provide free tuition and accommodation to asylum seekers. The offer of places to study in English at four of its faculties, which was announced on the university’s website, applies to potential students who have been granted asylum and residence in the Czech Republic and have passed an entrance exam. The institution said it expected the offer would apply to around 10 students. Last week over 1,000 Czech academics signed a petition calling for an end of intolerance toward refugees.
Embattled Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová on Monday suffered a fresh blow after her own party ANO gave her the thumbs down in a vote of confidence following a highly publicized conflict with her deputy Matěj Stropnický of the Green Party. According to the news site Echo 24, 15 members of the Prague ANO leadership voted against Krnáčová, while two abstained. The vote came just hours after the Three-Coalition, which rules Prague together with ANO and the Social Democrats, expressed support for Matěj Stropnický. The two have been locked in a dispute over construction regulations. There has been speculation in the media that ANO was considering replacing Krnáčová since the ongoing row could break apart Prague’s ruling coalition.
A planned strike by flight attendants at the Czech national carrier ČSA which was due to begin at midnight on Wednesday may have to be postponed, according to cabin crew union representatives. The reason is a provisional court ruling issued at the request of ČSA management which called the strike illegal. The strike was in protest over low wages, after salary cuts that were made in February this year. The company management has refused to negotiate a long-term raise in salaries, until ČSA consolidates its finances.
A memorial to Czech airmen who flew with the RAF during WWII was unveiled at Prague’s old Ruzyně airport on Monday. The ceremony took place on the 70th anniversary of the return of three Czech squadrons to their homeland. It was attended by the Czech army-chief-of-staff Josef Bečvář, war veterans and Dagmar Havel, the wife of the late president Vaclav Havel. Among those present was also the sole surviving Czech RAF pilot 92-year-old brigadier general Emil Boček. Nearly 2,500 Czechoslovaks joined the RAF in World War II; more than 500 were killed in action.
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