In times of boom and for selected fields of employment the Czech Republic has frequently looked East to supplement its labour force. A decade or two ago, the target was Slovak nurses and doctors. Now, there’s a system in place offering a supposedly fast track recruitment system for Ukrainians seeking skilled and not so skilled job for large parts of Czech industry. But the system has been beset by problems and there have been disagreements about how to go forward.
Arctic conditions, with night time lows dropping to – 30 degrees Celsius in places are making life difficult for people around the country. For homeless people the conditions are life-threatening and charity organizations are scrambling to meet the challenge, expanding the capacity of their shelters and seeking out homeless people to offer assistance. Even so, six people are reported to have frozen to death since the onset of Arctic conditions last Thursday. I spoke to Pavla Vopeláková from the Czech branch of the Salvation Army about what is being
Six people in Prague died from extreme cold since last Thursday, even though shelters reportedly still had room and were not full to capacity. One of the victims, in Prague 4, is believed to have taken his life. Harsh night time conditions well below zero degrees Celsius have claimed lives not just in the Czech Republic but across Europe.
The Czech minister for human rights has reacted to a storm of criticism sparked by the retailer Lidl’s use of a black male model for clothes on one of its advertising leaflets. The model sparked a wave of racist criticism and comments about the retail chain on social networks, including a mock set of Klu Klux Klan pyjamas for sale. The retailer said it saw no reason to change the advert, adding that it was the 21st century and the Czech Republic was part of a multicultural Europe. Human rights minister Jan Chvojka of the main government party, the Social Democrats, said he did not normally shop at Lidl but would now make a special effort to buy the clothes in question as a gesture of solidarity.
The Czech Interior Ministry on Monday dispatched a contingent of 40 police officers to Macedonia to help the country patrol its border with Greece and prevent migrants making illegal crossings on their way to Western Europe. Police President Tomas Tuhy said they would be working in the vicinity of Gevgelia, patrolling the border and helping to register migrants. Over 200 Czech officers have already been on similar missions to the Macedonian-Greek border. Altogether 400 Czech officers have been sent on border patrol missions to Macedonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia and Greece since 2015.
In what has become an annual tradition, politicians served carp soup to the public on Prague’s Wenceslas and Old Town squares on Dec. 24. Originally the soup, which is part of the traditional Christmas meal, was intended for the homeless, but with growing interest from the public it became something of a social event with scores of people turning up to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere at the two main Christmas markets. Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová and Prague 1 mayor Oldřich Lomecký served over 3,000 portions of the traditional Christmas soup which is made with cognac and caramel. The event took place amid heightened security.
President Miloš Zeman says terrorist attacks are getting closer to the Czech Republic and it is clear that the security measures in place at Prague Castle are important. Mr. Zeman made the comment the day after an attack in Berlin in neighbouring Germany left 12 people dead. Communicating via his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, he said he was against any refugees on the territory of the Czech Republic. The president said Monday’s horrific attack on the German capital had confirmed his longstanding warning of the risk of terror attacks in Europe.
Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the Czech Republic along with Germany and France pushed successfully for a big step forward in moves to develop defence and security policy at the European level during the Brussels summit on Thursday. Part of the progress focused on future joint military exercises and cooperation where the organisation and financing should be simpler. Government leaders also agreed to focus more of joint defence projects and research. Separately, heads of government discussed migration, including the need to boost help to African countries; mapped out the way for an EU-Ukraine association agreement; and discussed their negotiating position over Brexit.
In 2015 the government launched a two year project to help fight hate crime directed against Romanies and other minorities in the Czech Republic. With the migrant crisis, the project acquired a broader scope and greater urgency. In Iustitia, an NGO that helps victims of hate crime was involved in the undertaking. I spoke to its founder, lawyer Klára Kalibová, to find out more.
Barrister Petr Kočí has won an appeal against a fine he received for suggesting a court expert was biased because of his alleged Jewish background in a case in which Mr. Kočí was defending a far-right extremist, Lidovky.cz reported. The appeal court has not yet published the reasons for its decision. The barrister received a fine of CZK 100,000 from the Czech Bar Chamber. Mr. Kočí was representing a member of the Workers’ Party of Social Justice on trial for promoting Nazism and anti-Semitism at a public meeting.