The Czech Chamber of Deputies has passed a resolution rejecting the introduction of a permanent mechanism for the redistribution of refugees among European Union member states. MPs also expressed support for measures to strengthen the EU’s external borders. During Thursday’s seven-hour session opposition bills calling on the Czech Republic to take the issue of compulsory refugee quotas to the European Court of Justice failed to find support. Prague was recently outvoted on the issue at a meeting of EU interior ministers.
The Czech Republic respects the European Union’s recent decision on compulsory refugee quotas and would not benefit from taking any rash or hasty steps in this regard, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Thursday. Neither hysteria nor political isolation would help the country, he said, adding that Prague still believed that redistribution up refugees would not resolve anything. Mr. Sobotka reiterated in a lower house debate that the Czech Republic would not follow Slovakia’s path of taking the matter to the European Court of Justice. His government had long argued that migrants should be accepted on a voluntary basis.
The newspaper Hospodářské noviny has quoted diplomats as saying that relations between the Czech Republic and Germany are at their lowest point in 20 years. The cause of the rift is reportedly the Czech Republic’s rejection of an EU plan for quotas of migrants, an issue on which the country was outvoted at a meeting of interior ministers last week. Prior to the meeting Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had failed to get through by telephone to his German counterpart, Angela Merkel, Hospodářské noviny said. Sources in Berlin said the Czech side had failed to discuss their position at a lower diplomatic level in advance, though Prague said the two leaders had been too busy for a conversation.
The Czech Republic is planning to send military hardware, mainly trucks, and 20 soldiers to Hungary to help its army guard the country’s borders, a representative of the General Staff of the Czech Army told Czech Television on Thursday. The soldiers are to travel to Hungary in two groups, with the first set to leave in a fortnight’s time. The move comes in response to a request from Budapest and the number of soldiers could increase in future if the Hungarian government asks for more. Hungary has seen an unprecedented number of illegal refugees enter its territory this year.
The Czech government has approved a bill allowing the Ministry of the Interior to impose controls on the country’s borders in case of an extraordinary threat. Such controls would be in place for five days; any extension would require cabinet approval. In non-emergency situations decisions on closing borders would be in the hands of the government, as they are now. The new law on state borders will now go before the Chamber of Deputies.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says that there has been conflicting information about Russian airstrikes in Syria and it is not yet clear whom they have been targeted at. After a government meeting on Wednesday night, Mr. Sobotka said he expected to receive more information on the bombings from the Czech intelligence services. The government would proceed on the basis of that information in the coming weeks, he said. Russia launched a series of airstrikes on Wednesday that it said were aimed at Islamic State terrorists but which were reported to have mainly hit groups fighting the Syrian government.
The average old age pension in the Czech Republic was CZK 11,075 a month in 2014, according to freshly released figures. Only one in 10 seniors got more than CZK 14,043 monthly. Nine out of 10 received in excess of CZK 8,352. Men got on average CZK 12,259 a month, while women fared considerably worse with CZK 10,050. The Czech Social Security Administration registered 2.36 million old age pensioners at the end of last year.
The Czech crown has been a freely convertible currency for exactly 20 years. An amendment to the Foreign Exchange Act that came into effect on October 1, 1995 allowed Czechs to convert any amount of crowns into other currencies for the first time. The domestic currency had been partly convertible since 1990. Then prime minister Václav Klaus said in 1995 that the concept of exchanging crowns in Paris, New York or Frankfurt had previously been virtually unimaginable to the vast majority of Czechs.
Moves to sell off one of Pardubíce’s most prized pieces of industrial heritage have created a stir with the municipal council under attack for not having stepped in earlier to safeguard its future. The rumpus has been caused by the decision of the Austrian owner of the Automatic Mills, an historic building designed by famed architect Josef Gočár, to sell the building for a target price of 25 million crowns. Pardubice city council had wanted to buy the site and to turn it into an arts and culture centre but attempts to do so broke down. The town will now have to see what the intentions of a new owner are.
Prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka will meet together with Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek and Minister of Interior Milan Chovanec to try and settle disagreements over the implementation of the country’s national dev elopement of a high speed data networks. The two ministries are seeking to share out around 14 billion crowns, with a large part coming from European funds. The plan has been reworked several times because of differences. One controversial part of the plant is for 4 billion crowns to be set aside for the Ministry of Industry with one idea that it would create its own state company for developing networks.
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