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Visegrad Four offer help during immigrant crisis but underline sovereignty and reject quotas

Government leaders from the four Visegrad countries agreed in Prague on Friday that they are prepared to provide experts and equipment to help bolster the Schengen zone’s outer borders and combat human traffickers and support the fight against Islamic State during the current immigrant crisis. The meeting was called in Prague by the current country heading the regional grouping, the Czech Republic. Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka warned during the closing press conference that the wave of immigrants would continue as long as the current conflicts in Libya and Syria are unresolved. Development help for those countries would be offered and the stepped up involvement of the United Nations would be sought, he added. Polish premier Ewa Kopacz stressed that it was for individual countries make their own decisions during the ongoing crisis. The four Central European counties, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland, are under fire from other EU states for refusing to accept EU-set quotas of immigrants in their countries.

Czech army would help with immigrant crisis if more than 1,000 arrivals a day: minister

The Czech army and prison service will be called on to help the police tackle the immigration problem if the number of incoming refugees top 1,000 a day, Czech minister of interior Milan Chovanec said on Friday. Earlier, Chovanec said after a meeting with his Slovak counterpart Robert Kaliňák that both countries would oppose the proposal of EU set quotas of immigrants to be accepted by them. Even if they agreed the idea, immigrants would seek to move on to their target countries such as Germany or Sweden, Chovanec said. If Germany was willing to accept all Syrian refugees, then Czechs and Slovaks could arrange a rail corridor to the country, the Czech minister added. Germany would have to agree this with Hungary and Budapest would have to ensure that the travellers were really Syrians and not those claiming to be from the war ravaged country or with false passports from it, he addd.

Russian spies target international research says counter intelligence office

Russian spies in the Czech Republic are targeting international research projects in which Czech companies are participating and using Czechs to help them gather information, according to a report on last year’s activity by the country’s counter intelligence Security Information Service (BIS). It said Russia was seeking to gain a competitive advantage by obtaining the know-how stemming from European funded projects as well as helping companies plug into the funds on offer from the Czech Republic and EU. The counter intelligence service said that it tried to reduce the number of Russian intelligence officers active in the Czech Republic. It added that Chinese intelligence services also sought influence on Czech state and political structures with the aid of Czechs, including civil servants and politicians.

Czech wages rises higher than expected in second quarter

Average Czech wages in the second quarter rose by 875 crowns to stand at 26,287 crowns compared with the same period in 2014, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Friday. The rise of around 3.4 percent exceeded the expectations of most analysts who had predicted a rise of around 2.0 percent. Prague workers have the highest average wages of around 33,714 crowns but the pace of wage rises there is one of the slowest across the country. The lowest wages are in the Karlovy Vary region at 22,470 crowns.

Czech PM sets more ambitious target for tackling poverty, social exclusion

The Czech Republic will aim to cut the number of those threatened by poverty and social exclusion by 100,000 by 2020, prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced on Friday. The Czech prime minister was speaking at a conference on European conference on social exclusion in Prague. The Czech Republic initially had a target to take 30,000 from the ranks of those faced by poverty and exclusion. Falling unemployment and strong growth have allowed that goal to be widened. Sobotka warned though that the EU 28 as a whole appeared to be on track to missing its target of cutting by 20 million the number of poor and socially excluded amid continuing high unemployment following the recent economic crisis.

Chinese president accepts offer to visit Czech Republic

Czech president Miloš Zeman is meeting Friday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on his onging trip to China. The Czech head of state let slip to Chinese journalists that he had invited Xi Jinping to visit Prague next year and that the invitation had been accepted. He would be the first Chinese present to visit to the Czech Republic. Zeman recalled that his first visit to China last year had resulted in a series of breakthrough commercial deals. These have included a deal under which Bank of China will open its first branch in the Czech Republic and the launch of direct flights between Beijing and Prague which are due to start on September 23. The Czech president was accompanied on his Chines trip by former Czech and Juventus footballer, Pavel Nedvěd. The former European Footballer of the Year has ambitions to open a football school in China.

V4 prime ministers meet in Prague over migrant crisis

Prime ministers of the Visegrad four countries are attending an extraordinary meeting in Prague on Friday. The government heads of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary will try to coordinate their position on the escalating migrant crisis. On top of the agenda will be the current situation in Hungary, where thousands of refugees are stranded at Budapest train station. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said prior to the meeting that he will call on his counterparts to support the establishment of more detention centres along the outer border of the Schengen area and he will push for a stricter intervention against people smugglers.

Czech communists call for united stand against European Commission immigration moves

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia has called of Central European government leaders meeting in Prague on Friday to adopt a common position to resist what it described as European Commission pressure over the immigrant crisis. The party attacked Brussels for failing to put forward solutions to the crisis beyond the idea of sharing out migrants between countries. It said the Czech government, which currently heads the Visegrad group, should have called its meeting earlier so that pressure for immigrant quotas and criticism of Central European states, for example from France and Austria, could be have been tackled, it added.

Chinese investment group CEFC to take control at Slavia Prague football club: report

Chinese investment group CEFC will buy a 60 percent majority stake in the Slavia Prague football club, the daily Neovlivni reported Friday. It cited former Czech minister and current head of the Czech-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Jaroslav Tvrdík, who mediated the deal. When the deal goes through, the head of the Czech transport company Travel Service, Jiří Šimán, will be left with the remaining 40 percent stake in the famous Czech club which has recently gone many ownership upheavals.

Czechs leave it late to beat Kazakhstan 2:1 in European Championship qualifier

In football, substitute Milan Škoda was the hero for the Czech national team with two goals in the last 16 minutes to turn around their European Championship qualifier against Kazakhstan on Thursday night. The Czechs went down at home in the 21st minute with a headed goal from Yuri Logvinenko. A weakened Czech team, missing many key players from injury, looked slow and without many idea up front although David Limberský hit the crossbar in the first half. Slavia attacker Škoda was brought on for the second half. The Czechs can now qualify for the finals in France with a win against Latvia on Sunday.