On a visit to Prague on Tuesday, Donald Tusk said unity among European Union states was the only thing that could deliver a solution to the bloc’s migrant crisis. The European Council chief praised the Czech Republic for helping Macedonia to guard its borders. He added, however, that other states like Greece must also be helped to handle the influx of refugees. The Czech Republic and other Visegrad Four states have been promoting a “back-up plan” under which the outer border of the Schengen Zone could be moved from Greece to Macedonia and Bulgaria, if the former continues to be ineffective in stemming the flow of migrants.
The Czech Republic still has reservations about reforms of the European Union being demanded by the UK, says the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. The sticking points are social benefits and an “emergency brake” to curb immigration to the UK from the EU. Mr. Sobotka made the comments after a meeting in Prague on Tuesday with European Council president Donald Tusk, who has warned against a UK exit from the bloc and is on a tour of EU capitals to discuss the proposals. Mr. Sobotka reiterated that Prague wishes Great Britain to remain in the EU; this is a matter of Europe’s strategic importance and influence so the Czech Republic hopes a compromise will be found, he said.
A European Union summit planned for later this week should make halting the flow of migrants into Europe a top priority, the Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said in Brussels on Tuesday. Mr. Zaorálek made the call on behalf of the Visegrad Four, which the Czech Republic now heads. The Visegrad Four are pushing for the summit’s conclusions to include a reference to hotspots in frontline states, which they wish to see transformed into facilities where asylum seekers are held until their applications are processed. The leaders of the four Central European states met in Prague on Monday.
Creating a European army to guard the EU’s external borders and deporting economic migrants and Islamists are the two main steps needed to resolve the continent’s migrant crisis, says the Czech president. In an interview with the Russian news agency TASS, Miloš Zeman did not condemn Russian airstrikes in Syria, asking why requests for help from the lawful government of Syria should be refused. There is virtually no democratic opposition in Syria, only a terrorist opposition, Mr. Zeman told TASS.
Star player Jaromír Jágr says he will not reconsider a decision to retire from international ice hockey. Jágr, who turned 44 on Monday, said he did not even know if he would still be playing when the sport’s World Cup begins in September. The forward celebrated his birthday on the ice, with both sets of supporters cheering him as his current club Florida beat Pittsburgh, where he began his NHL career.
Czech fighter jets should patrol the skies above Iceland again in October, a spokesperson for the army’s general staff told the Czech News Agency. As in a previous mission last year, 75 soldiers and five Gripen planes are to be sent to Iceland. It will be the fourth time that Czech-owned Gripens have been deployed to guard NATO airspace in other states. Iceland is a NATO member but does not have an army of its own.
Individual European Union states unilaterally protecting their own labour markets is not the answer to the problem of social dumping, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said at the first joint meeting of the tripartites of the Visegrad Four states near Prague. Rather than reforming EU guidelines on using cheaper labour from neighbouring countries, it would be better to implement the existing ones more thoroughly, he told state, employers’ and workers’ representatives from the Central European countries on Tuesday. Mr. Sobotka said the free movement of labour was key to the EU remaining competitive.
Forecasters have issued a snow warning for several parts of the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute said fresh snow was likely to fall in several regions in Bohemia and the Vysočina throughout the day. Up to 10 centimetres could fall in a 12-hour period, they said. There is also a danger of black ice in Bohemia on Wednesday night.
Chairman of the European Council, Donald Tusk, is expected in Prague Tuesday to discuss the latest developments on a series of EU reforms aimed at preventing a British exist from the EU. Tusk warned Monday that the risk of a so-called ‘Brexit’ is real. The Visegrad Four regional grouping drew up a joint position Monday on British demands, reiterating worries about the intention to clamp down on certain social payments to workers from other EU countries. A brake on immigration from other EU countries is one of the demands of British Prime Minister David Cameron. He is set to put the finally agreed reform package to a referendum on continued EU membership, which could be held as early as June.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka stressed that a European solution to the immigration crisis has to be found. Speaking at the end of the Visegrad summit in Prague Monday, Sobotka said the EU should work for the agreement with Turkey to stem the flow of immigrant to be fulfilled and for Greece to meet its Schengen zone obligations. He also called though for the EU to do more to help Bulgaria and Macedonia bolster their borders if this does not happen. This, so called plan B, has been the source of reported discord with Germany reportedly worried the Central European grouping is pushing a different anti-immigration strategy than its own. Czech Secretary of State for European Affairs said later that there was still time for the Turkey-focused strategy to be shown it could work but an alternative option had to be readied.
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