The Czech police is reinforcing security measures along the country’s border with Austria, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec told Czech Television on Sunday. The announcement came shortly after Germany announced it would renew border controls along its border with Austria, because it was no longer able to handle the influx of refugees. Mr. Chovanec said that further measures would be taken depending on how the situation develops.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka discussed the migrant crisis over the phone on Sunday with the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker stressing the need for a compromise solution which would not entail some EU members being outvoted on the matter of refugee quotas. The Czech head of cabinet said it was essential to increase security on the EU’s outer borders so as to stop the uncontrolled influx of migrants. Prime Minister Sobotka told Czech Television earlier that the Czech Republic cannot retreat from its stance rejecting mandatory migrant quotas although it was ready to help on a voluntary basis.
Czech schools should in future have the right to conduct alcohol and drug tests on students whom they suspect of alcohol or drug abuse, the internet news site novinky.cz reports. The right to conduct such tests has been incorporated into the anti-smoking legislation prepared by the health ministry. Experts have welcomed the move since Czech children are at the top of the European ladder in alcohol and drug abuse with some indulging in alcohol from the age of twelve. The drug tests –aimed predominantly at marihuana –will be saliva-based. Presently teachers need written consent from parents to conduct such a test.
The Meteorological Office has issued a high wind warning for the eastern part of the country. The warning is valid from 9pm on Sunday until 6pm on Monday for the Olomouc, Moravia-Silesia and Zlin regions where winds can reach a force of 110km per hour. The authorities have warned hikers to postpone planned trips and for people to secure garden furniture and objects that could inflict injures.
The leader of the Communist Party Vojtěch Filip has said that if the European Commission attempts to force the migrant quotas on member states then the Czech Republic should file a complaint against the EC at the European Court of Justice. Mr. Filip said that in his view such a complaint would be justified because a blanket introduction of quotas in countries that opposed the idea would amount to a loss of national sovereignty.
The 19th annual Forum 2000 conference entitled “Democracy and Education ” opens in Prague on Sunday. The conference, held September 13–16, will include lectures and round-table debates on a variety of topics including the migrant crisis and the threat of international terrorism. Among this year’s participants are the former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk, the former Slovak prime minister Iveta Radičová and Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski. The tradition of these annual gatherings was established 19 years ago by the country’s first post-communist president Vaclav Havel.
A US military convoy is crossing the Czech Republic on Sunday on its way to a military exercise in Hungary. The Dragoon convoy counting 150 vehicles and 550 personnel is travelling from the US base at Vilsek in Bavaria via Plzen, Prague, Brno and Výškov where the soldiers will spend the night at Czech military barracks. The military exercise Brave Warrior is aimed at demonstrating NATO’s collective defence capabilities and strengthening European stability. Most of the exercise will take place in the Várpalota region in western Hungary. The series of drill will involve 1,800 troops from Slovakia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Romania, Croatia and the US.
Demonstrations against Islam and in support of migrants took place on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Saturday afternoon with the two hostile camps counting several hundred people divided by a cordon of police officers. The anti-Islam camp called for the protection of European culture and identity while the group against xenophobia help up banners reading “Migration is not a crime” and “Refugees Are Welcome”. A motorcade of 350 bikers roared up the motorway at the top end of Wenceslas Square sporting the Czech flag, national symbols and signs with crossed mosques. Some 700 anti-Islam demonstrators then made their way to the seat of the government where they continued their protest under close police surveillance.
Finance minister and leader of the ANO party Andrej Babiš on Saturday visited the detention facility Bělá pod Bezdězem north of Prague which currently houses 530 migrants. After a tour of the facility Mr. Babis expressed himself in favour of speeding up the process of granting asylum to those who wanted to stay in the country and introducing something akin to the American Green Card. The ANO leader likewise stressed that Europe must do more to secure its borders and stop the uncontrolled influx of migrants. He said the Frontex agency had failed dismally in protecting the EU’s outer borders and noted that more finances were clearly needed to that effect.
Justice Minister Robert Pelikán from the ANO party of the center-left governing coalition has indicated that the cabinet is far from unanimous with regard to the government’s rejection of mandatory refugee quotas. In an interview for Lidové noviny, Mr. Pelikán ,who alone openly supported the quotas, said several other colleagues in the Czech cabinet who voted against mandatory quotas were not comfortable with the Czech government’s stand. He would not elaborate on who had voted against their conviction. Culture Minister Daniel Herman alone admitted he had doubts about the government’s stand. On Friday morning Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek indicated a possible softening of the Czech position ahead of a meeting of six foreign ministers in Prague, saying the Czech Republic did not want to block an EU agreement on migrants and hinting that a change of position could not be ruled out in future. However at Friday’s meeting of foreign ministers the Višegrad Four, of which the Czech Republic is a member, reiterated its strong opposition to mandatory migrant quotas.