The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says a “alternate border system” that would run from Bulgaria to Macedonia should be created if the external borders of the Schengen Zone are not successfully reinforced. Speaking on Tuesday, Mr. Sobotka also said that Turkey would need to fulfill its commitments to regulating migration and combating people smugglers and that solving the migration crisis required pressuring the different sides in Syria to reach agreement; if the war in Syria continues, around half of the motivation for the strong wave of migration will remain in place, he said.
The great Czech opera singer Magdalena Kožená is set to perform with a chamber ensemble featuring her husband Sir Simon Rattle at Prague’s Rudolfinum on Tuesday night. The world renowned principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic will play piano during the concert; it is being held as part of a Magdalena Kožená residence within celebrations of the 120th anniversary of the foundation of the Czech Philharmonic.
In a joint memorandum issued in Prague on Tuesday, the interior ministers of the Visegrad Four countries again rejected the idea of compulsory refugee quotas for European Union states. The Czech minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, announced the move at a news conference following a meeting with his counterparts from Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The four called for the fulfilment of a commitment to establish functioning “hot spots” on the EU’s external borders; such centres should also be detention facilities with refugees not allowed to leave them until their identity is verified, they said.
Attendance at Czech cinemas last year was at the highest level since 2010, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Union of Film Distributors. Cinema operators sold almost 13 million tickets and reported record takings in 2015. The Minions did the biggest box office, followed by Fifty Shades of Grey and the latest Star Wars movie. The highest grossing Czech film was Life is Life, which ranked 11th overall.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has signed a memorandum with General Electric on the US firm building a centre to develop and produce aircraft engines in the Czech Republic, the news website iHned.cz reported. The CZK 9 billion plant will produce turboprop engines for small and medium-sized planes and is expected to employ around 900 people. GE would ideally like to build near Prague, iHned.cz said.
The winner of October’s Velká pardubická steeplechase, Nikas, is set to be disqualified over doping. A second analysis of the horse’s blood found that it contained the banned alkaloids theobromine and caffeine. The latest results have confirmed a positive drugs test on Nikas on 11 October, the day of the race. The Czech Jockey Club will now make a definitive ruling on disqualifying the horse, which was ridden by Marek Stromský. It will be the first such ruling in the 125-year history of the race. Nikas’s trainer, Stanislav Popelka, on Tuesday denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the banned substances had been in its feed.
The Czech police say the number of crimes they recorded in 2015 was 14.2 percent lower than the figure for the previous year. Announcing results for last year at a news conference on Tuesday, the police said they had solved just over half of the nearly 250,000 crimes registered last year. Some 155 murders were investigated in 2015, five fewer than in 2014, while the number of crimes classed as “most brutal” was the lowest since the year 2000.
Monday night was the coldest night recorded in South Bohemia for four years. The region’s Šumava mountains were the coldest place in the country with a temperature of -32 degrees Celsius registered at the weather station in Rokytská slať, the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute said on Tuesday. Prague’s Clementinum was the warmest place in the Czech Republic on Monday night with -5.7 degrees, though lower temperatures were seen elsewhere in the city. The freezing temperatures should continue until the end of the week.
The Czech government has supported proposals by the European Commission to tighten border protection, which includes the establishing of a European border and coast guard, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after a cabinet meeting on Monday. "The Czech Republic has been pointing out since the beginning of the migrant crisis that Europe must focus on better protection of the outer Schengen border," Mr Sobotka said. The commission has proposed that at least 1,500 members of the newly formed border and coast guard assist in the protection of the Schengen borders. Sobotka said several dozens of Czech experts from the foreigner police or the customs administration may join the new guard. The EC presented the "border package" last December.
German chancellor Angela Merkel could visit the Czech Republic this spring, the Czech News Agency reports, citing unnamed diplomatic sources. Her visit would possibly coincide with the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Visegrad Four in late March or early April or could be a bilateral meeting. Czech Prime Minister Buhlas Sobotka said last year he hoped to meet with Merkel to discuss the migrant crisis, the Schengen zone, economic ties, industry modernisation and other issues. Relations between the V4 and Germany were strained last year by differences over the migrant crisis, including Prague’s rejection of EU quotas.
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