German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the heads of government of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Berlin on Monday to mark a quarter of a century since the signing of a milestone treaty on goodneighbourly relations. However the successes of past years were overshadowed by the challenges of the present: the migrant crisis, Brexit and the controversial German road toll.
In the first quarter of 2017, the Czech consulate in Lvov, Ukraine received almost 4,000 applications from Ukrainians looking to work in the Czech Republic, a number three times higher than the entire number of applications one year earlier. Domestic firms have made no secret of their interest in hiring Ukrainian labour, an initiative backed by the government and also the president. But organization has been a different matter: processing applications has been altogether too slow.
The Czech consulate in the Ukrainian city of Lvov is snowed under with requests for work visas to the Czech Republic, Czech Television reported. In the first three months of this year the consulate received close to three thousand visa applications, which is more than in the entire preceding year. Despite a pressing need for more Ukrainian workers in the Czech Republic, only a third of the applications were processed. The Czech Foreign Ministry has now increased the monthly quota for workers from Ukraine promising that as of May the consulate should issue around 800 work visas a month.
The Supreme Court has upheld a six-year sentence for an arson attack against a lodging house which was home to 18 Romany inhabitants, including 8 children. Two young men, who sympathised with the neo-Nazi group Blood and Honour, splashed the building with petrol and threw Molotov cocktails into the house. Luckily the inhabitants of the lodging house managed to put out the fire in time and no one was hurt in the incident. One of the youths convicted appealed the decision on the grounds that there were no injuries. The judge rejected the argument, stressing the gravity of what he said was a premeditated, racially-motivated attack.
Three Eritreans, believed to be illegal immigrants, were found in a Czech truck by British police at Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. The lorry driver called police after hearing suspicious noises in the back of the truck, according to The Mail Online. Police have not given further details. Eritreans form one of the biggest group of asylum seekers in Britain.
A major new exhibition by the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei opens in Prague on Thursday evening. The show is centred around an enormous recreation of a lifeboat highlighting the plight of refugees – and Ai told reporters that Europe’s handling of the crisis raised major questions surrounding its values.
The European Court for Justice has ruled that holding a Kurdish family which was trying to get to Germany from Hungary in a detention centre in the Czech Republic was illegal. According to the court, the Czech authorities did not have the legal right to prevent the refugees from trying to get to another EU member state. The family fled Iraq because of persecution from Islamic State. They were detained in Hungary where they applied for asylum but a few days later they left trying to get to Germany. Under the so-called Dublin regulation, detention is possible only in case of the risk that t the person in question will go into hiding.
A police raid on the country’s second biggest online grocer, which resulted in the detention of 85 foreign nationals on suspicion of working illegally in the country, has thrown light on a much bigger problem. The record low unemployment rate and the restrictions on the number of Ukrainian workers allowed to enter the labour market has led some firms to employ Ukrainians with work permits for Poland. According to a member of the Association of Employment Agencies the case detected last week is merely the tip of the iceberg and in reality there are
Chinese conceptual artist and political activist Ai Weiwei, 59, will return to the Czech Republic in March after a year to display his new artifact created exclusively for the National Gallery in Prague. The artist’s biggest sculpture ever reflects his concern about the refugee crisis. Called "Law of the Journey", the 70-metre-long (230-foot-long) inflatable boat with 258 oversize refugee figures will be shown from March 16 through the rest of the year.
Austria’s chancellor Christian Kern wants a major cut in EU subsidies for EU member states that refuse to accept refugees. "If countries continue to avoid solving the migration issue, or drop taxes at the cost of their neighbours, they shouldn't receive billions from Brussels in the future," Mr Kern told the German daily Die Welt. He made the statement just day before an EU leaders summit in Brussels, which is also going to deal with the migrant crisis. The measure would hit especially the V4 countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.