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Czech PM welcomes EU agreement on migration

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has welcomed the agreement on migration reached after hours of gruelling negotiations in Brussels.

In a joint statement EU leaders agreed to set up asylum processing centres in and outside of Europe and restrict migrant moves within the bloc. The asylum processing centres in Europe would be set up on a "voluntary basis" by willing member states.

There was also consensus on the need to tighten the EU’s external border and boost the fight against people smugglers.

The Czech prime minister, who has vehemently opposed mandatory migrant quotas, said the agreement was a huge success for the Visegrad Group’s common policy.

Zeman’s refusal to appoint Poche foreign minister remains hot issue

President Zeman’s refusal to appoint Social Democrat nominee Miroslav Poche to the post of foreign minister remains at the centre of controversy in the Czech Republic.

Both members of the Social Democratic Party and opposition MPs are demanding an explanation as to who was on the prime minister’s list of ministerial candidates and whether the president overstepped his powers by refusing to make the appointment, which he is bound to do under Czech law.

Prime Minister Babiš said on Friday that he had sent the president a list of candidates on which Poche was nominated for the foreign ministry portfolio, as well as a subsequent letter saying that if Poche was not appointed, the post could be temporarily filled by party leader Jan Hamáček.

Adding to the confusion, President Zeman told TV Prima on Thursday that he had received two lists – one nominating Miroslav Poche and the other Jan Hamáček to the post of foreign minister.

Hamáček said earlier the Social Democrats would not push for court action over the president’s refusal to appoint their nominee, preferring to resolve the matter through dialogue.

Imoba returns 50 million crown EU subsidy

The Imoba company, successor to the Stork’s Nest Farm and hotel compound, has returned the 50 million crown EU subsidy over which Prime Minister Andrej Babiš faces criminal prosecution.

Babiš and six others are suspected of having illegally acquired the grant for the Stork’s Nest farm and hotel compound which was then part of his multi-billion crown empire, after orchestrating a fake transfer of ownership to enable it to qualify for a grant intended for small and medium-sized businesses.

The return of the subsidy will not influence the prosecution. If convicted Andrej Babiš could face up to ten years in prison.

MPs approve fast-track expropriation of land, buildings to quicken infrastructure expansion

The lower house of Parliament has approved an amendment which aims to facilitate and accelerate preparations for expanding the Czech Republic’s energy, communications and transportation infrastructure. Part of those preparations includes the expropriation of land via a so-called interim decision. This means construction can begin on plots even before the amount of compensation owed to the landowner is determined.

The amendment lists specific buildings and plots for fast-track expropriation, including areas where motorways and railways are to be expanded or new metro stops to be built.

Of the 160 MPs present for the vote, 156 were in favour while 4 abstained. It will now go to the Senate for debate, where it is expected to pass. The amendment could come into force in September.

Hundreds attend war hero Vranský’s funeral

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of war hero Pavel Vranský, who died last week at the age of 97.

Vranský was one of the last remaining Czechs who served with Britain’s RAF during World War II. The funeral, with military honours, was attended by deputy prime minister Jan Hamáček, army officials and war veterans.

Vranský, who came from a Jewish family in Ostrava, joined the RAF in 1942 and served with the 311 Squadron, which was a Czechoslovak-manned bomber squadron. Prior to that he had fought in Syria and at Tobruk.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opens Friday night

The 53rd edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will open with a gala ceremony in the West Bohemian spa town on Friday evening. Over the next nine days the festival will screen close to 200 movies.

The biggest name at the opening ceremony will be the Hollywood actor Tim Robbins who is going to receive Karlovy Vary’s Crystal Globe for outstanding contribution to world cinema.

The festival is also going to welcome Hollywood actor Robert Pattinson, director Barry Levinson and director Taika Waititi and producer Carthew Neal, who are currently shooting their latest film, Jojo Rabbit, in the Czech Republic.

Weather forecast

Saturday should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.