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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Czech Republic respects the European Union’s recent decision on compulsory refugee quotas and would not benefit from taking any rash or hasty steps in this regard, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday. Neither hysteria nor political isolation would help the country, he said, adding that Prague still believed that redistribution up refugees would not resolve anything. Mr. Sobotka reiterated in a lower house debate that the Czech Republic would not follow Slovakia’s path of taking the matter to the European Court of Justice. His government had long argued that migrants should be accepted on a voluntary basis.
The Czech Chamber of Deputies has passed a resolution rejecting the introduction of a permanent mechanism for the redistribution of refugees among European Union member states. MPs also expressed support for measures to strengthen the EU’s external borders. During Thursday’s seven-hour session opposition bills calling on the Czech Republic to take the issue of compulsory refugee quotas to the European Court of Justice failed to find support. Prague was recently outvoted on the issue at a meeting of EU interior ministers.