The Czech authorities have no information about any of the refugees on its territory being linked to Islamic State radicals, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after a meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday. According to Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, the influx of refugees to the Czech Republic has been diminishing over the past few days. He said there are currently 300 free places in the country’s accommodation centres for migrants. A new facility with 220 places is set to open in Drahonice near Louny on October 1.
Czech police have charged two men with planting explosives on board a bus from Prague to Varna in May of this year, the spokesman for the anti-organised crime unit told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. The explosives, stored in a tube together with a canister of gas were found in a suitcase by the bus driver, who stopped the bus on a Hungarian highway because of a smell emanating from the baggage compartment. Thirty-seven people were aboard the bus when it happened. The motive is still being investigated but criminalists say it could be related to rivalry between international bus operating companies.
Czech firms which are struggling with lack of employees would be willing to immediately employ around 5,000 refugees from countries such as Syria, suggest a poll carried out by Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, which was released on Thursday. The survey was carried out among several dozen large industrial companies. The companies would prefer employees with technical education who speak English and are ready to undergo requalification. Among the obstacles in employing refugees is a language barrier and lengthy process of acquiring work permit, the survey suggests. According to estimates, the Czech Republic is currently lacking around 200,000 workers, mainly in technical professions.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is on a two-day visit to the Czech Republic, met with Czech President Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle on Thursday. The main topic on their agenda was international terrorism. The Czech head of state also acquainted Mr Stoltenberg with his proposal for a UN resolution establishing an international anti-terrorism unit. Mr Zeman plans to present his proposal at a meeting of the UN General Assembly later this month. During the meeting at Prague Castle’s Throne Hall, the UN flag was hoisted by mistake instead of the NATO one. The president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said after the meeting that it was an oversight, adding that he would further investigate the matter.
The short-term solution of the current migrants crisis is up to the European Union and not up to NATO, the chairman of the lower house of parliament Jan Hamáček said on Thursday after a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Mr Hamáček said they had both agreed that NATO’s responsibility lay in seeking long-term solutions, namely in reinstating stability in countries in North Africa and the Middle East. The lower house head also informed Mr Stoltenberg about his plan to increase the Czech Republic’s defence budget to 1.4 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Up to 70 percent of Czechs are against the razing of villages to allow for coal mining, suggests a survey carried out by the Ipsos agency for the Greenpeace environmental group, released on Thursday. More than 50 percent of those surveyed are strictly against the compulsory purchase orders on houses and land to allow for new mines to be opened. Fourteen percent of respondents are in favour of easing the existing limits on mining. More than 3,000 people have signed a petition against the lifting of coal-mining limits, which would lead to the destruction of Horní Jiřetín and Černice in North Bohemia.
A fund to aid asylum seekers should be created in case their influx to the Czech Republic increases, head of the Czech Chamber of Commerce Vladimír Dlouhý said at a press conference on the migration crisis on Wednesday. Mr Dlouhý suggested both firms and the state should contribute to the fund that would finance the migrants’ education and requalification, adding that workers in some professions were lacking in the Czech Republic. Mr Dlouhý said that instead of trying to prevent the influx of immigrants, the country should be looking at more efficient solutions to the problem.
More than a hundred employees of the hospital in Znojmo, about a tenth of the total staff, were treated for food poisoning on Wednesday. The people were taken sick after eating in the canteen for hospital personnel. All are said to be in stable condition. According to South Moravian governor Michal Hašek, patients have not been endangered and there was no need to close down the hospital. Laboratory tests are now being conducted to find out the cause of the problem.
Czech women’s number one Petra Kvitová failed to reach the semi-final at the US Open on Wednesday. The fifth-seeded Czech fought hard against Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, but she was struggling physically by the end of the two and a half hour match. She led 3:1 in the second set but couldn’t close out the match, committing 60 unforced errors. The final score was 4:6, 6:4, 6:2.
NATO must adapt to the changes taking place in the security environment in its neighbourhood, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said at a press conference after a meeting with a Czech government delegation on Wednesday, adding that the migration crisis requires an immediate reaction of the European Union. He also said NATO should concentrate on dealing with the causes of the crisis and on stabilising situation in the countries of the migrants’ origin. Mr Stoltenberg arrived in Prague on Wednesday for a two-day visit. On Thursday he is scheduled to meet with President Miloš Zeman.