The Visegrad Four group of Central European countries, comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, will collectively boost its aid for Africa by 400,000 euros, or around 11 million crowns, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced on Thursday. The four countries will also earmark 300 more people to help in the European institutions dealing with asylum policy and border protection. Sobotka, who is also representing Poland’s interests at the EU summit in Valetta, Malta, during its political changeover met with his Slovak and Hungarian counterparts in the margins of the meeting. The Czech Republic was originally earmarked to provide 600,000 for the new EU fund to help development in African countries likely to be the main sources of emigrants.
The accreditation of Russian journalist Alexandr Kuranov has not been extended by the Czech foreign ministry, the news site Neovlivni reported Thursday. The site said such a move is usually associated with suspicions of spying. Kuranov is reported to have worked as a freelance for a series of Russian state media companies. His accrediation, allowing access to foreign ministry functions, expired at the end of August.
Prague’s dominant political parties are putting out feelers over the creation of new alliances which could fill the gap after the collapse of the ANO-led coalition which governed Prague City Hall. Leading member of the centre-right TOP 09 party, Jiří Novotný, said Wednesday night that it would try to put together a coalition without ANO. ANO leader Andrej Babiš performed a U-turn Wednesday when he said that ANO would be prepared to do a deal with TOP 09.
Czech police are facing a major shake-up with the new heads of the Prague, South Bohemia, Plzeň, and Olomouc regions needing to be selected. Some of the changes were already scheduled but some of them have been fast forwarded because of the so-called Vidkun scandal in Olomouc, where police are alleged to have closed their eyes to major cases of corruption. A similar clean out of regional police heads was undertaken by Police president Tomáš Tuhý in April.
Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš said Thursday that his ministry can now arrange for the clear up of long running environmental problems in the country for around half the costs of a tender run by the previous centre-right coalition government. Babiš said the clean-up should cost 25-30 billion crowns compared with the 57 billion offered to underrate the work under the previous government headed by former prime minister Petr Nečas. The clean-up should cover chemicals at the Neratovice site in Central Bohemia, the famous oil and chemical lagoon in Ostrava, and other environmental damage centred around Ústí nad Labem.
The Czech Republic has won another round in its international arbitration battle with the blood products company Diag Human. A court in Amsterdam backed earlier rulings that the country was not liable to pay more than 8 billion crowns in damages to the blood products company. That some was set in a 2008 ruling of the alleged damages to the company when the Czech Republic withdrew from an earlier agreement. The latest success was announced Thursday by Minister of Health Svatopluk Němeček
A decision of the host country for the next European Games in 2019 which was due to be decided at a meeting in Prague next week has now been taken off the programme. The venue for the games, which were first held in Baku this year, was to be discussed at a meeting of the European Olympic Committee at the end of the week. The front-running candidate, a bid by the Russian cities of Kazan and Sochi has been put into question by the ongoing Russian sports doping scandal.
The two-day Prague European Summit begins on Thursday in the Czech capital. This session of strategic thinking about European issues is likely to be focused at least in part on the current immigration crisis, situation in Ukraine, and threat from terrorism. More than 100 representatives from other EU countries and European institutions are expected to take part. One of the key speakers Friday will be the first vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, who will address the question of what changes the EU can make itself to deal with current challenges.
Two refugees at a detention facility in Drahonice in northwestern Bohemia harmed themselves and one tried to attack a guard on Wednesday, the spokeswoman for the foreign police, Kateřina Rendlová, told the Czech News Agency. One of the men had to be taken to hospital. More than 40 detainees, most of whom are from Iran, launched protests on Tuesday evening over the fact they were allegedly being treated like prisoners and because they feared being deported to their country of origin.
The unseasonably warm weather has been breaking temperature records around the country. Five monitoring stations on Wednesday recorded the highest ever measurements taken in November since recording began in 1775. The highest temperature – 18.9 degrees Celsius - was recorded in Husinec in South Bohemia. Temperatures should cool down a little at the weekend but next week is still expected to stay unusually warm.
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