Proposed voluntary immigrant quotas in Europe should also take into account refugees taken in from conflict stricken Ukraine, president Miloš Zeman said on Thursday. The Czech head of state was speaking during his ongoing visit to Azerbaijan, which ends of Thursday. Zeman said the opinion was a personal one and he had not consulted with the government on it. He added that Ukrainians h and Czechs traditionally have had close ties. The Czech government is resisting European Commission proposed quotas to share out immigrants but will accept a voluntary distribution of refugees between states.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has given a cool reception to comments from the Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Jiří Dienstbier saying that the Czech Republic could take up to 15,000 immigrants. The comments sparked mixed reactions across the Czech political spectrum. Mr. Sobotka said the crucial issue it was not a matter whether the Czech Republic could accept a few thousand refugees but whether a European system for allocating them would be created which governments could not challenge afterwards. The Czech Republic showed during the war in former Yugoslavia that it could take in thousands of refugees, he added.
Czech police said they are not for the moment going to react to Germany’s move to boost border checks on the frontier with Saxony due to fears of a further immigrant influx. German checks were imposed Wednesday. A Czech police spokeswoman said that so far there were no signs that the country was being increasingly chosen as a route to get to more prosperous European countries. Czech police detained 45 immigrants, 41 of whom were Syrians, on Wednesday.
Czech power company ČEZ announced that it is shutting down two of the four nuclear reactors at its Dukovany site for checks on the safety of welds to piping during recent repairs. The shutdown of the second bloc Thursday and third bloc on Friday combined with other outages at the power plant and at the Temelín complex mean that around half of the operator’s nuclear capacity will be out of action. Other power sources at the company’s disposal will be called on and no shortage is threatened, a company spokeswoman said. The Czech Republic was unusually forced to import power last week when nuclear and coal fired power plants were shut.
ČEZ also said Thursday that it will submit an application for the prolonged operation of the first unit at its Dukovany nuclear power plant by the end of the month. Existing approval for the operation of the 510 MW unit, which entered service in 1985, expires at the end of the year. ČEZ bosses previously confirmed they be seeking clearance to operate the Dukovany unit for a further 10 years. An application to the State Office for Nuclear Safety for the prolonged operation of the second unit at Dukovany should be made next year and for the remaining two units in 2017.
President Miloš Zeman concludes a two-day visit to Azerbaijan on Thursday. On Wednesday the Czech head of state, along with his counterpart Ilham Aliyev, opened the Czech-Azeri business forum and attended an event commemorating Aliyev’s late father and predecessor, who was a former member of the top Soviet communist leadership and a KGB general. He also met for a discussion with university students in Baku. The main aim of Mr. Zeman’s visit was to pave the ground for a strategic partnership with Azerbaijan and boost mutual business relations. Azerbaijan os one of the biggest exporters of oil to the Czech Republic.
Five Poles were killed and four people injured when a goods van crashed into a lorry on the motorway outside Brno on Thursday. The crash occurred at a section of the motorway where the number of lanes was reduced to allow repairs. The section of motorway on the main D1 route linking the west and east of the country has been closed to traffic in both directionsThe accident is likely the worst so far this year on Czech roads.
The Czech ambassador to Slovakia Livia Klausová, wife of former Czech president Václav Klaus, is threatening to stay in her post and could continue her functions out of a rented flat in the Bratislava suburb of Petržalka according to Thursday’s edition of the Slovak daily SME. Klausová is at the centre of a power battle between the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Czech president Miloš Zeman, who pushed for her nomination to the Bratislava post. The new Czech civil service law sets an age limit for public servants which Livia Klausová exceeds. The foreign ministry says she should quit her post by the end of the year but the president says an exception should be made for her so she can stay on. The scenario of Klausová being ambassador without an embassy or staff now seems to be in play.
About a hundred demonstrators against Islam blocked traffic at the Dolní Dvořiště border crossing with Austria in south Bohemia on Wednesday evening. The event, which lasted for about half an hour, was initiated by the opposition Dawn party and the non-parliamentary Bloc Against Islam with the aim to persuade the cabinet to send the army to protect the border against refugees. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday that the state would deploy the army in the event that the police could no longer cope with the influx of migrants.
In ice hockey, Czech forward Martin Erat has signed a one year contract to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with Russian club Omsk. The 34 year old, after 13 years competing in the NHL, has been without a club since the end of the last season when he played for Arizona. The new deal means that there will now be four Czech players on the Avangard Omsk roster. Erat was in the Czech squad at the World Championships being hosted by Prague and Ostrava earlier this year.
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