The Czech Republic will represent Poland’s interests at the EU summit on migration in Malta, the Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Wednesday on his Twitter account, adding that he was asked to do so by his outgoing Polish counterpart Ewa Kopacz. The outgoing Polish Prime Minister won’t be able to attend the summit, because it clashes with the first meeting of Poland’s new parliament. The two-day meeting in Valetta, which got underway on Wednesday, should address smuggling of immigrants and set rules for the return of migrants to their country of origin, PM Sobotka said on Wednesday before leaving for the summit.
The Senate approved an amendment to the country’s asylum law on Wednesday, tightening the conditions under which asylum can be granted. Under the new legislation, authorities would have the right to reject asylum if the applicant has been convicted of a serious crime or presents a security threat. The bill was approved despite the opposition from Green Party senators, who wanted the legislation to be more favourable towards migrants. On the other hand, the amendment requests the Refugee Facilities Administration to provide migrants released from detention facilities with 400 crowns to cover their travel expenses and food. The legislation has yet to be approved by the President.
More than 40 refugees at a detention facility in Drahonice in northwestern Bohemian have gone on hunger strike, the Czech News Agency said. Cleric Mikuláš Vymětal, who works with detainees at Drahonice, said the hunger strikers, almost all of whom are from Iran, had launched the protest over the fact they are being held in a prison facility and because of fears they will be deported to their country of origin. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recently criticised conditions at Czech detention camps.
The company Czech Telecommunications Infrastructure, owned by the richest Czech Petr Kellner, has become the new general sponsor of the Prague Spring international music festival, the head of the festival, Roman Bělor, said on Wednesday. The Česká Spořitelna bank, which had been sponsoring the Prague Spring festival since 2001, stepped down from its sponsorship in April this year. The budget for this year’s 70th edition of the festival amounted to over 80 million crowns.
Prague City Hall wants to ban heavy trucks from the city centre, the Prague councillor in charge of infrastructure, Petr Dolínek, said on Wednesday. Heavy trucks over 12 tonnes won’t be allowed on Prague’s inner ring road unless they have an exemption issued by the city district authority. Prague City Hall still has to go hold talks with the police, which are against the plan. City councillors also plan to establish a low-emissions zone within the city centre from 2017.
Over a third of ski slopes in the Czech Republic will increase their prices this season, the Association of Czech Ski Resorts informed on Wednesday. The charges will go up on average by around four percent. Ski slopes have invested over a billion crowns in snow-making equipment and improvement of their infrastructure, the association said. The average price for a one day ski-pass will increase to 560 crowns for adults and 390 crowns for children.
The Czech Republic marks International Veterans Day on Wednesday. Several events are being held across the country to mark the occasion, including an event at Prague’s Military Museum at Žižkov, a ceremony at the national memorial on Prague’s Vítkov Hill and the award of medals and awards to 53 war veterans, resistance fighters and soldiers by defence minister Martin Stropnický. Veterans Day marks the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, which ended World War I.
The Czech Defence Ministry plans to offer requalifying courses to military veterans in state firms related to the ministry, defence minister Martin Stropnický said on Wednesday at a press conference on the occasion of Veterans Day. Soldiers, who served on foreign missions, could work for instance as technicians to service military equipment. The ministry has also launched a website with a list of firms offering discounts on their products and services to veterans. The Defence Ministry currently registers 817 WWII veterans and over 12,000 more recent veterans who served on foreign missions over the past 25 years.
The first wine of the season, the so-called Saint Martin’s wine, goes on sale on Wednesday in the Czech Republic. The day of Saint Martin, which is celebrated in the country on November 11, has become an occasion for winemakers to present their young wines. First bottles of Saint Martin were opened at 11 am on Wednesday at events all over the country. In Prague, the main festivities are being held in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad. Over two million bottles of Saint Martin’s wine have been produced this year.
As he closes in on the record for caps for the Czech Republic, goalkeeper Petr Čech says he doesn't dare to predict how many international appearances he will eventually make. The 33-year-old is set to equal Karel Poborský’s record of 118 appearances for the national side in one of two friendlies against Serbia and Poland due to take place in the next week; he will sit out the other game under an agreement with coach Pavel Vrba. The Arsenal player made his international debut in 2002.
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