Anti-Roma sentiments continue to be a major issue in the Czech society, according to an annual report by the European Network Against Racism, an advocacy group. The report says little progress has been achieved in fighting discrimination against Roma children many of whom are still placed in schools for mentally handicapped pupils. The Czech Romany community also faces attacks and discrimination on the labour market, in housing and other areas. In other EU countries, the report mainly focused on the rise of islamophobia.
The Czech Finance Ministry will not pay some 2.6 billion crowns, or more than 130 million US dollars, for regional projects that had failed to secure funding from the EU, according to a press release by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek. The European Commission last month refused to pay for the projects organized by the Czech operational programme, ROP Northwest, over issues with the projects’ administration and lack of supervision. Mr Kalousek said the costs of the projects would have to be covered from the budgets of the respective Ústí and Karlovy Vary regions. Members of the regional representations meanwhile said that with no help from the ministry, the regions could not afford to do so.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has made his case for changes to the country’s election system. Speaking in the Senate on Thursday, Mr Zeman said the threshold for parties to enter the lower house should be lowered from five to three percent, and suggested that the number of electoral districts should be raised. These changes would lead to a higher participation by the people in politics. Mr Zeman also said he would next week present the Senate with his list of nominees for judges of the Czech Constitutional Court.
Ex-president Václav Klaus is considering running for a seat in the European Parliament on the ballot of his former party, the Civic Democrats, the daily Právo reported on Thursday. If elected, Mr Klaus could become the chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists group. The eurosceptic Václav Klaus’s term as president expired earlier this month; his approval ratings were quite low when he was leaving office but commentators say that his critical stance on the EU could draw enough support from Civic Democrat voters.
The number of illegal aliens in the Czech Republic grew slightly last year, the head of foreign police said on Thursday. In total, the police registered 3,476 foreigners staying in the country illegally, some 200 more than in the previous year. Most illegal aliens came from Ukraine, Russia and Vietnam. Some 430,000 foreigners have long-term or permanent residence permits.
A Czech pro-Palestinian activist was deported from Israel on Thursday, a day after he was detained by the Israeli army during a march in Hebron, in the West Bank, according to a report by ISM, a Palestinian group. The Czech citizen was deported along with a Danish and a German activist. The march, which took place on the day US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel on an official visit, was to draw attention to the Palestinian movement for independence.
The police have charged two men for having failed to report a find of thousands of historic silver coins. The treasure, consisting of coins minted between the 15th and 17th centuries, was discovered in a forest near Boskovice, in the southeast of the country, in 2011. The 29-year-old finder failed to report the discovery, as required by law, and instead sold the coins to a collector for 850,000 crowns, or more than 42,000 US dollars. But the police was anonymously tipped off, and raised charges against both men who, if convicted, face up to five years in jail.
Speedskater Martina Sáblíková finished second in the 3,000-metre race at the world championships in Sochi on Thursday. The 25-year-old Czech athlete, who was defending gold medal on the track from the previous world championships, came in some two seconds after the winner, Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands. Martina Sáblíková, who has won nine world speedskating titles, is a strong favourite for the 5,000-metre event scheduled for Saturday.