The number of foreigners residing in the Czech Republic has risen to
493,400, the highest number in the country’s modern history, the Czech
Statistics Office reported on Thursday.
The largest foreign minorities are Ukrainians, Slovaks and Vietnamese. Together these three nationalities make up more than half of the foreigners living in the country.
The Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has warned that prolonged pressure
over the matter of migrant quotas is fuelling populist forces in the Czech
Republic and could, in a worst case scenario, lead to the Czech Republic
leaving the EU.
In an interview for Die Welt the Czech prime minister said the Czech Republic was not shirking its responsibility for helping solve the migrant crisis but felt strongly that it should be resolved outside the EU, in the counties of origin.
Mr. Babiš has come under pressure from the anti-migrant Party of Freedom and Direct Democracy to agree on a bill which would enable Czechs to vote in a referendum on leaving the EU, but has resisted the pressure, saying that referenda on foreign policy issues such as this are unacceptable.
French film star Catherine Deneuve is to receive the Kristian Award for her
contribution to world cinematography on Thursday at the closing ceremony of
the Prague Febiofest film festival.
In just over a week the festival screened more than 160 movies in 15 categories, including New Europe, a competition section showcasing debuts.
Another bright light at the festival was the illustrious French-Armenian singer Charles Aznavour who also received a lifetime achievement award.
Although the festival is drawing to a close in the Czech capital it will continue in 16 other Czech cities up until April 20th.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis has rejected Russia’s claim that the
Czech Republic could have been the source of the nerve agent believed to
have poisoned a former double agent in Britain and his daughter.
Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the Czech prime minister said the allegation that the Novichok nerve gas used in the attack had come from the Czech Republic was a blatant lie.
He said the Czech Republic stood by its British ally in this matter and would emphasize this stand at the upcoming EU summit which is expected to address the incident. The Czech prime minister stressed the need for a united EU stance in condemning the attack.
The Russian foreign ministry has denied responsibility for the attack saying that the Czech Republic along with Slovakia, Sweden, and Britain could have been the source of the so-called Novichok agent.
Six people are reported dead and two injured in an explosion at a chemical
plant in Kralupy nad Vltavou, north of Prague. The two injured are reported
to be in stable condition and were transported to Prague‘s Vinohrady
hospital, which specializes in burns.
The head of the local fire brigade said a storage tank had exploded on the premises, but there was no danger of other explosions. People in the vicinity have been assured they are not in danger and that no toxic substances were released into the environment. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
One of President Zeman’s election slogans, suggesting that the victory of
his main rival Jiří Drahoš could lead to an influx of migrants into the
country, was an oversimplification, but was not in violation of the law,
the Czech Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday. It dealt with the issue
on the grounds of a complaint from a voter.
The message which appeared on numerous billboards around the country read “Stop migrants and Drahoš! This country is ours! Vote for Zeman”.
Constitutional Court Judge Pavel Rychetsky said the panel had reached a unanimous decision that the statement could not be viewed as a lie, merely a judgment based on Drahoš’ publicly expressed views.
Czech president Miloš Zeman has said he still does not know what the
former head of the massive Chinese company CEFC, Ye Jianming, has been
accused of after the return of a fact finding mission to Shanghai.
Zeman said in an interview with the daily paper Dnes that the main mission of the delegation was to find out if CEFC would continue to be the ‘flagship’ for Chinese investment in the Czech Republic and they had been assured it would. The CEFC boss was also an economic advisor to Zeman.
A delegation made up of the president’s chancellor, economic advisor, and the head of CEFC’s Czech activities, returned from China at the weekend. CEFC has spearheaded Chinese investment in the Czech Republic but some projects have recently appeared to be in trouble.
The head coach of the Czech biathlon team, Ondřej Rybář, has announced
he will step down from the post.
Rybář is credited with the success of Czech biathletes in recent years, including the five Olympic medals picked up in the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
The 39-year-old says he wants to devote more time to his family and this is not possible with the international travel required as head coach. Rybář said he would resign after the Sochi games but was persuaded to stay on.
The Russian ambassador to the Czech Republic came to the foreign ministry
on Wednesday to explain allegations that Czechs could have been the source
of the nerve agent believed to have poisoned a former double agent in
Britain and his daughter.
The suggestion on Saturday from the Russian foreign ministry that the Czech Republic along with Slovakia, Sweden, and Britain could have been the source of the so-called Novichok agent sparked an immediate denial from Czech foreign minister, Martin Stropnický. After the meeting, Stropnický said no proof for the comments had been offered and against branded the accusations as absurd.
Britain has suggested Russia was the source of the agent used in the southern English city of Salisbury where Sergei Skripal was poisoned along with daughter Yulia.