The government has agreed to earmark 100 million crowns for the development aid budget in 2017. The increase brings the overall budget for development aid to around 1.0 billion crowns. The foreign ministry is originally reported to have asked for an increase of 200 million crowns. Most Czech development aid is spent on specific projects in chosen countries with smaller slices of spending earmarked for emergency help and transformation aid.
In tennis, top Czech men’s player Tomáš Berdych has climbed the rankings following his Wimbledon progress to the semi-finals. Berdych has advanced to eighth place in the world from his previous position at ninth. Top woman Petra Kvitová, who was knocked out in the second round at Wimbledon, has dropped out of the top 10 and is now at 13th place. Jiří Veselý has climbed 14 places and now features in the men’s top 50.
The Czech Republic has registered the name Czechia in English, with other versions in the world’s main languages, as the country’s shortened title with the United Nations. The move was agreed by the government at the start of May in spite of opposition from some ministers that it would mean extra expense, in part rewriting and rebranding existing promotional material. The foreign ministry has led the call for an agreed shortened name for the Czech Republic arguing that the current official name is long winded and has given rise to a series of different unofficial short versions. Organisations will be able to choose whether to use the long or shortened versions but the ministry hopes to see Czechia taking off for sports and cultural events.
The Supreme Court has confirmed a three-and-a-half year prison sentence on a Slovak man who was stopped last year by Czech police trying to smuggle 27 illegal immigrants to Germany. The 15 men, four women and seven children were found in cramped conditions in a van with around one cubic metre of space each. They all originally came from Afghanistan.
The country’s spending watchdog, the Supreme Audit Office, has castigated moves by three government bodies to try and create a single payment site for all tax, customs, social security and health transactions. In a report published Monday, it said that around 3.5 billion crowns was spent, mostly on non-related activities which did not advance the project at all. The project aimed at simplifying payments and collection was approved by the government in 2008. It was originally supposed to be completed by 2014.
The government has failed to back a plan put forward by Minister for Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier which would have meant a mandatory quota of 40 percent of women as candidates for elections. The main opposition to the quota reportedly came from the ANO party and Christian Democrats. The provision formed part of an action plan for equality between men and woman who was passed by the Cabinet without the quota. Women currently occupy around 20 percent of seats in parliament and around 27 percent of seats on local and town councils. The action plan aims to increase the number of women in top positions in state and state controlled companies and education and research.
Police on Monday stopped a van carrying 31 immigrants from Iraq on the main motorway heading towards the main western border crossing with Germany at Rozvadov. Police said they consisted of four families without any of the required papers to transit or stay in the country. The Romanian driver of the van, which had British number plates, has also been detained on suspicion of people smuggling. The Iraqis will be questioned to determine whether they have asked for asylum anywhere in Europe. The Czech Republic is currently dealing with 132 illegal immigrants being housed in detention centres.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has indicated that his future as leader of the Social Democrats will depend on how the party fares in Senate and regional elections in the Autumn. He said in an interview with the business daily Hospodářské Noviny that he would only stand for re-election as leader in the Spring of 2017 if the party wins sufficient support from the public. He did not specify what he regarded as sufficient. The Social Democrats dominate 11 out of the 13 regions and have 33 seats in the 81 seat Senate. A third of the seats in the upper house are up for grabs.
Members of an investigative committee looking into reorganization plans in the Czech police forces is scheduled to meet in the lower house on Monday. The commission, headed by former justice minister Pavel Blažek, is expected to approve a plan of investigation and decide who is going to be questioned over the matter. The results of the enquiries should be presented to the lower house by the end of October. The reform of the Czech police forces led to a row between the leaders of the ruling coalition and to the resignation of Robert Šlachta, head of the special police unit for combating organised crime.
An annual festival of street art called Za Dveřmi or Behind the Door gets under way at Prague's Výstaviště exhibition grounds on Monday. Over the next five days, visitors can see various performances by world and Czech troups, including a ballet show of excavators or a yurt with silent cinema. The eighth edition of the festival will kick off with a circus performance called Stockholm Syndrome by Swedish circus Burnt out punks.