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President’s chancellor unlikely to get security clearing

The appeals committee at the National Security Office has recommended rejecting an appeal from the president’s chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, over the office’ s rejection of his application for top level security clearance. The final word will come from the office’s director, but the recommendation of the appeals committee carries considerable weight. President Zeman has in the past said that Mr. Mynář cannot remain in the post if he fails to pass the security vetting process but he said he would give his chancellor the chance to try all avenues of appeal, including at the Supreme Administrative Court.

Lower house passes bill on reserve troops

The lower house on Wednesday passed an amendment to the conscription law that should motivate young people to join the country’s active reserve troops on a voluntary basis. The annual financial reward given to members of the reserve troops would be triple what it is now and they would have further advantages. Those who pass the tests would undergo a three months military training course. The government had originally proposed the re-introduction of blanket conscription of 18-year-olds but lawmakers opposed the idea. At present the army’s reserves count some 1,200 people; the military would like to see their number reach 5,000.

Agency for Social Inclusion to select nine municipalities for future cooperation

The government Agency for Social Inclusion, which is aimed at helping integrate Roma and other deprived groups into mainstream society, has selected nine municipalities from socially excluded localities to cooperate with in the next three years. According to the agency’s spokesman, Václav Zeman, the agency will help the local authorities to systematically solve problems connected to social exclusion, such as increasing capacity of asylum facilities, or raising the number of assistants helping to prevent crime. The agency will also help the municipalities in reaching EU funds for social inclusion.

Czech President Miloš Zeman to sign Paris Environment Deal

Czech President Miloš Zeman will sign the deal on the environment reached in Paris, although he remains sceptical about it, he told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. The President said he regarded the deal as a declaration rather than a binding document. The pact – which will replace the Kyoto protocol in 2020– aims to cut global warming by less than 2 degrees Celsius and was agreed by nearly 200 states in the French capital. The deal must be ratified by the Czech Parliament and signed by the President. The Czech Prime Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has described the deal as a historic moment, adding that it had met the Czech Republic’s expectations.

Czech Army might help Macedonia deal with migrant crisis

The Czech Republic might have to send army or military aid to help Macedonia deal with the migrant crisis, Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický said after a V4 meeting in Prague on Thursday. The defence ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland met to debate the protection of the outer Schengen border in Hungary and Slovenia as well as possible ways of helping Macedonia, which is facing an influx of migrants. The Czech Interior Minister, Milan Chovanec, has already proposed to send 25 policemen to help deal with the situation in the country. The proposal will be debated by the government on Monday.

Czech farmers estimate losses caused by drought at 2.6 billion crowns

Czech farmers estimate the damages caused by this year’s drought at 2.6 billion crowns, the president of the Agrarian Chamber, Miroslav Toman, told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. He also said that the Agriculture Ministry has prepared a financial injection of 600 million crowns that will be distributed among the farmers hit by the hottest and driest year on record. The harvest of corn, beet root, and potatoes, took the biggest hit, but fruits and vegetables and hops were also affected. The government’s national strategy in coping with drought should be concluded by 2016.

Česká Zbrojovka to provide guns to Slovak armed forces

The arms and military equipment producer Česká Zbrojovka has signed an agreement with the Slovak Interior Ministry to provide the country’s police and other armed forces with over 26,000 guns. Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák announced the news at a press conference on Thursday. The Slovak Interior Ministry is set to pay 383 million crowns (over 14 million Euro) for the items. Česká Zbrojovka has won the tender, the biggest of its kind in Slovakia’s history, together with the Austrian company Glock. The first dispatch of guns should be delivered to Slovakia at the start of next year.

Less than fifth of Czechs would regret EU collapse

Less than a fifth of Czechs would regret the collapse of the European Union, according to a survey by the Sociological Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. About half of the respondents said would not care and 22 percent said they would be relieved, the survey suggests. Some six percent of those asked said they would actually welcome the EU’s collapse. Among those who would regret it were mostly younger, university-educated people from larger cities.

Around 100,000 people have sought help from ombudsman’s office

Around 100,000 people have turned to the ombudsman for help since the year 2000, when the institute of the Public Defender of Rights was established. The ombudsman is supposed to protect people in cases of maladministration by public authorities and other institutions. The first person to hold the office of the Public Defender of Rights in the Czech Republic was the highly respected lawyer Otakar Motejl, who served from December 2000 until his death in May 2010. The current ombudswoman, Anna Šabatová, took charge in February 2014.

Czech deputies refuse EC requirement on labelling goods from Jewish settlement

The Czech government should refuse the requirement of the European Commission to label the goods from the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the Golan Heights, the lower house of the Czech Parliment said in a resolution on Thursday. According to the Culture Minister Daniel Herman of the Social Denocratic Party, it was necessary to reject efforst leading to the discrimination against Israel. The EU does not recognise Israel's presence in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, and says the labelling policy aims to distinguish between goods produced inside the internationally accepted borders of Israel and those made outside.

Josef Fiala appointed new Constitutional Court judge

Czech President Miloš Zeman appointed Josef Fiala a Constitutional Court judge, after the Senate approved his nomination earlier this month. He will replace Vladimír Kůrka, whose ten-year term came to an end this week, keeping the 15-member court complete. Mr Jirsa, who is 62, is a member of the government’s legislative council, and has until now worked as the head of the Civil Law department at the Masaryk University Law Faculty in Brno.