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European Commission “asleep at switch” over measures to solve migration crisis, says Sobotka

The European Commission had been somewhat asleep at the switch with regard to planning measures to deal with Europe’s ongoing migration crisis, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said on Tuesday. Mr. Sobotka said that there was no point in debating at present the number of refugees the Commission wants the Czech Republic to accept. He said Europe did not need newer and newer plans but the completion of what had been agreed in the past, in particular boosting defence of the Schengen Zone and creating new reception centres for refugees in Italy and Greece. According to the latest EU plan, the Czech Republic is expected to take in around 3,000 asylum seekers.

NATO chief and Czech PM to meet US soldiers crossing Czech Republic in convoy

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will on Wednesday meet with US soldiers crossing the Czech Republic in a convoy, a Czech government spokesman said. The American troops will pass through the country between Wednesday and Monday on their way to Hungary. While in Prague on a two-day visit, Mr. Stoltenberg will also hold talks centred on NATO’s adaptation to changes in the security environment with a Czech government delegation headed by Mr. Sobotka.

Czech unemployment falls slightly to 6.2 percent

Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell to 6.2 percent in August from 6.3 percent in July, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Czech labour authority. The government agency registered almost 450,700 people out of work last month. Meanwhile, the number of available jobs in August was at the highest level since December 2008. The Prague Region had the lowest jobless rate in August with 4.6 percent. At the other end of the spectrum was the Ústí nad Labem Region with 9.2 percent. Analysts expect the overall unemployment rate to keep falling.

Victims of forced sterilisation to get compensation under draft bill

Women forced to undergo sterilisation in the Czech Republic should receive financial compensation from the state in the next few years, according to new legislation drafted for the minister for human rights, Jiří Dienstbier. Under the bill the women, many of whom are from the Roma ethnic minority, would receive CZK 300,000. A government committee proposed financial compensation in 2006. Three years later the then cabinet apologised for the practice but to date no compensation has been paid out.

Dawn to hook up with Blok Against Islam for elections

The Dawn party, which has 14 seats in the Czech lower house, is to contest regional, Senate and parliamentary elections in alliance the group Blok Against Islam, the former’s recently elected chairman Miroslav Lidinský said on Tuesday. He said the two organisations’ advocated defence of the Czech Republic’s borders and zero tolerance for the politicisation of Islam in the country. Mr. Lidinský recently said the head of Blok Against Islam, Martin Konvička, would need to tone down his rhetoric if he were to succeed in politics.

Famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma receives Dvořák Prize for promoting Czech music

The French-born Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma has received the Antonín Dvořák Prize for the promotion of Czech classical music internationally and in the Czech Republic. The famous musician received the award, in the form of a glass cello, from the Czech minister of culture, Daniel Herman, at a ceremony in Prague on Tuesday. On Monday night Yo-Yo Ma opened the Dvořák Prague music festival in the city.

State to hire over 12,000 new employees in 2016

The Czech state is going to hire over 12,000 new employees next year, according to a draft budget set for discussion on Wednesday that was quoted by Czech Television. This would represent a 3 percent increase in the size of the state workforce to over 436,000. The move will cost around CZK 10 billion a year in extra salaries. The police force will see the biggest intake with around 2,500 new jobs being created. The minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said over 1,000 would be deployed in connection with a rise in the number of refugees.

Czech Republic pushes for strengthening of Schengen zone outer border

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have insisted on the need to strengthen the protection of the outer border of the Schengen zone, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said after a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann Both also said they insisted on the creation of zones for refugees. Unlike the Czechs and Slovaks, Austria is pushing for the redistribution of refugees by European Commission-set quotas. The Czech Republic, as part of the Visegrad 4 countries, has rejected mandatory quotas, insisting it will take refugees in a voluntary basis instead. The Czech prime minister said he did not see mandatory quotas as a solution.

Czech military to make use of empty barracks near Prague

Czech soldiers will return to the barracks in Rakovník near Prague that were left empty after January 2014. New plans will increase the number of troops in response to the changing security situation, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický told journalists. The army is to return to Rakovník, 50 km west of the capital. Up to 600 troops may be stationed in the barracks then. The area may be used for military vehicles and for exercises of reserve troops, the Czech News Agency reported.

Kvitová reaches last eight at US Open at eighth attempt

The Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has reached the quarter-finals at the US Open in New York after beating the UK’s Johanna Konta 7-5 6-3. The world number four and two-time Wimbledon champion had never previously got past the last 16 stage in Flushing Meadows in seven attempts. Kvitová, who is seeded fifth, will face Flavia Pennetta of Italy for a place in the semi-finals.