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Czech foreign minister: EU must unite stance on Syria

The European Union must unite its stance on Syria, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Monday ahead of a meeting with his EU counterparts in Luxembourg. The Czech foreign minister said that in his view Syrian President Bashar Assad must participate in the negotiations on a ceasefire in Syria, but he should not continue to lead the country for long over the crimes he has committed against his own citizens. Mr. Zaorálek also emphasized the need for Russia to be included in the peace talks if they are to produce a lasting and effective solution.

Russia rejects claim it is assisting migrant wave to EU

Russia has dismissed a claim by Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnický that Moscow is likely helping to finance the transport of refugees to the European Union, the ctk news agency reported. Stropnický said in an interview for Saturday’s Mladá fronta Dnes daily that at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels he had heard from his Hungarian counterpart that the buses transporting refugees from the Balkans to Western Europe were financed by Russia. He said that while he had no proof, he had no reason to question the information. The Czech defense minister also suggested that the Russian Federation has an interest in undermining the European Union. The Kremlin dismissed his words, saying the claim was untrue and ungrounded. The Hungarian Defense Ministry has also denied having received information of this kind.

Drahonice detention centre opens to migrants

Eighty migrants from the Bělá pod Bezdězem detention centre north of Prague were transported to a newly opened facility in Drahonice on Monday. The move is to alleviate the heavily overburdened centre at Běla and give migrants in both facilities more room and better conditions. The facility in Drahonice, which is not far from Běla, has a capacity of 240 beds and like that at Bela does not enable migrants freedom of movement outside the grounds.

Czech government approves social housing concept

The Czech government has approved a concept on social housing as proposed by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. The concept, which is to serve as a framework for a law on social housing, envisages three forms of housing for the needy – crisis, social and affordable flats. The draft states under what conditions people will be eligible for social housing. The Czech Republic completely lacks social housing, a state of affairs that has repeatedly been criticized by NGOs and charities.

Government approves establishment of nature reserve in Brdy Hills

The government has approved a plan to turn the Brdy Hills, an area southwest of Prague, that has long served as military training grounds, into a protected nature reserve. The Defence Ministry withdrew from Brdy due to cost cutting measures. The Brdy Nature Reserve which will officially be established as of January 1st 2016, is to be larger than the present training grounds, linking up to adjacent reserves. It will cover an area of 345 km and affect life in 34 villages.

Lesy České republiky unwilling to give up 30,000 hectares of forests in restitution

The state-owned company Lesy České republiky, which manages the majority of the country’s forests, has said it is not willing to give up approximately 30,000 hectares of forestland which the Czech Catholic Church has asked to be returned to it under the restitution law. The head of the company Daniel Szorad said on Monday that the individual cases would have to be resolved in court.

Jan Zátorský wins Czech Press Photo

The winner of this year’s Czech Press Photo is Mladá fronta Dnes photographer Jan Zátorský with a photo of migrants desperately trying to cross the Serb-Hungarian border. The picture, taken in September of this year won both the main prize, the Crystal Eye award for Photograph of the Year and best picture in the Spot News category. The jury assessed 3,700 photographs by close to 300 authors. The migrant crisis was a dominant theme this year.

Czech Airlines to fly to seven new destinations

Czech Airlines will expand its flights to seven new destinations in the upcoming winter season, the ctk news agency reports. Among the new destinations are Venice, Bologna, Nice and Alma-Ata. Czech Airlines is also renewing flights to Yerevan and Helsinki. The airline’s winter schedule lasts from October 25th to March 26th. The airline currently flies to 38 destinations world-wide.

Police search for man behind brutal attack

Prague police are searching for an unknown assailant who brutally attacked a caretaker watching a garage entrance in September. The latter, an older man, was attacked after he called on the individual to stop banging on the doors. He was punched in the face and - after falling down - kicked in the head and stomped and spit on. Afterwards, he required hospitalization. If found the perpetrator potentially faces up to three years in prison for grievous bodily harm and disorderly conduct. The brutal incident was caught on CCTV camera. The attacker was also not alone, the police said: two others apparently stood by during the attack but did not intervene.

NHL action: Plekanec scores two in Montreal win

In the NHL on Sunday, Czech forward Tomáš Plekanec scored twice in the Montreal Canadiens' win over the Ottawa Senators. The final score was 3:1. On the first goal, coming in the first ten minutes, Plekanec fired a cheeky sharp angle shot which hit the back of rookie goaltender Matthew O’Connor’s skate before ricocheting into the net. The result means Montreal are three-for-three in the new season.