Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has said the EU must have a plan B in case the EU agreement with Turkey on stemming the flow of refugees to Europe should collapse. The Czech interior minister made the statement following a meeting with his Slovak and Austrian counterparts, Robert Kalinak and Wolfgang Sobotka, in Prague on Friday. The ministers all stressed the need for Europe to be prepared for such a possibility and be able to prevent a mass wave of refugees through the so-called Western Balkans route.
The leaders of ANO and the Christian Democrats have resisted a call from the Social Democrat prime minister to also consider changes in the government line-up. ANO leader Andrej Babiš and the head of the Christian Democrats Pavel Bělobrádek both said they saw no reason to make changes in the portfolios held by their parties. They refused to comment on the prime minister’s decision saying that under the coalition agreement each of the party leaders was entitled to making personnel changes at the posts held by the respective party.
Police are evacuating close to a thousand people in Brno after a bomb from WWII was discovered by workmen near a busy shopping centre. The find has also complicated city transport since buses passing through the area have had to be rerouted. Police, firefighters and explosives experts are at the site. It is not clear how long the work may take.
The European Committee of Social Rights has concluded that the Czech Republic has violated the European Social Charter in failing to provide sufficient access to housing, health care and education to the Roma minority. The committee which dealt with a complaint by the European Roma and Travellers Forum said the Czech Republic has violated articles 11 and 16 of the Social Charter. The ERTF complained that Roma in the Czech Republic face lack of accessible housing, residential segregation, inadequate living conditions and forced evictions as well as discrimination in education through the practice of placing many Roma children in schools for pupils with learning disabilities. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, has urged the Czech prime minister to urgently address these issues.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has promised a government reshuffle and changes at key party posts following the Social Democrats’ defeat in October’s regional and Senate elections. In a letter to party colleagues, cited by the news site novinky.cz, Sobotka says the party needs new blood ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections and he is ready to make changes at both party posts and in the government. The changes are to be announced within a month. The Social Democrats have seven ministers in the cabinet. The prime minister himself has come under pressure to accept responsibility for the party’s poor showing in the elections. A recent poll conducted by the STEM agency saw the Social Democrat’s popularity rating drop to 14.4 percent, slightly behind the Communist Party, while its partner in government ANO shot up to 29.7 percent.
The outstanding Czech pianist Lukáš Vondráček will perform at Prague’s Rudolfinum on Friday night together with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Vondráček, who won the Queen Elisabeth Competition for young musicians earlier this year, will perform Witold Lutoslawski’s Little Suite, Sergej Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto in C major and Petr Iljič Čajkovskij’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor under the baton of Polish conductor Michał Nesterowicz. The talented Czech pianist, who first performed in Carnegie Hall at sixteen, now lives and works in Boston, performing with leading music ensembles the world over.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said the Social Democrats would not benefit from closer ties with President Miloš Zeman. Resisting calls from some party members for reconciliation with the president, following the party’s defeat in October’s regional and Senate elections, Mr. Sobotka said that President Zeman today was far removed from the Social Democrat agenda and leaned towards national-conservative views. In an interview for the weekly Echo, the prime minister also backtracked on an earlier call for the Social Democrats to hold a party referendum on their candidate for president, saying that the party could split over Miloš Zeman which would seriously harm its chances in the 2017 parliamentary elections.
Lawyer Klara Samková, who compared Islam to Nazism and Communism during a seminar in the lower house, will not be charged, Czech Radio reported on Friday citing police sources. The police reportedly closed the case on the grounds that Samková’s statement came within the bounds of freedom of speech. The Turkish ambassador to Prague who was present at the hearing and a number of other foreign diplomats left the assembly hall in protest. The Lawyers’ Chamber which had considered expelling her for violation of the chamber’s ethical codex has also shelved the case.
Five armoured vehicles were involved in a road accident near Tabor on Friday morning. The vehicles, on their way to home base from a training session, got into a pile-up accident after a car in front of them braked sharply. Thirteen people –eleven soldiers, a woman and a child – suffered light injuries. All were released from hospital after getting treatment. The cause of the accident is being investigated by the military police.