Ottawa could reinstate a visa requirement for Czech visitors due to the high number of Czech Romanies applying for asylum in Canada, the Czech foreign ministry said on Wednesday. The Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, said Canada’s immigration minister, Jason Kenney, had told him a few days ago that Canada was considering measures in reaction to the number of asylum seekers, including reintroduction of a visa requirement. The Czech newspaper Lidové noviny reported that Ottawa would reimpose visas from next Tuesday, though Canada’s embassy in Prague would not confirm whether such a decision had been taken.
If the change is introduced, the Czech government could respond by making Canadian diplomats get visas to enter the Czech Republic, the Czech News Agency reported. A blanket visa requirement for all Canadians would contravene a European Union directive.
While 861 Czech Romanies applied for asylum in Canada in the whole of 2008, over 1000 did so in the first three months of this year. Thirty-four of those who applied between January and April were granted asylum. The asylum seekers say they have been the subject of discrimination in the Czech Republic, a view supported by human rights agencies.
In 1997 Canada brought back a visa requirement for Czechs because of the number of Czech Romany asylum applicants. It dropped the condition in 2007.
The number of people who died on Czech roads in the first half of 2009 is the lowest for the same six-month period in 15 years, a police spokesperson said on Wednesday. There were 380 road deaths between the start of January and the end of June, down from 441 in the first half of 2008. The transport ministry is aiming to bring the annual number of deaths down to a maximum of 650 by the end of next year.
Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka has admitted to abusing transport and housing perks he received as an MP to help pay for an apartment in Prague, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. However, he told the newspaper he had not broken the law, adding that he did not know of any constitutional official who would divide their salary and perks. Mr Sobotka, who frequently comes near the top of most-popular-politician polls, was finance minister from 2002 to 2006.
The Czech Republic’s oldest citizen Marie Buzková has died at the age of 106. She passed away last Friday in her home near Písek in south Bohemia where she lived with a son, aged 72, a local official told reporters. There are around 650 people aged 100 or over in the Czech Republic.
Police in Prague arrested an armed man alleged to have robbed three banks in the city on Wednesday. The man failed to take any money from the first bank in Prague 10, before making off with hundreds of thousands of crowns from two banks in Prague 3. He was apprehended soon afterwards and the money retrieved.
Seven percent of workers in the Czech Republic have undeclared earnings on which they do not pay income tax, according to a study by the EU agency Eurofound. That is two percent higher than the average in the European Union, suggests the study conducted in 2006 and 2007. Sixty-six percent of Czechs who admit to illegal earnings work for family, friends or neighbours, the highest percentage in this category in the EU, the study found.
Over a quarter of a million people have seen the exhibition Republika at the National Museum in Prague. The show, launched in October to mark the 90th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, presents the original Munich agreements to the public for the first time. It comes to an end next Monday.
František Straka has been let go as manager of the Czech international football team after only one game in charge. Straka had been given an open-ended contract when he was hired to replace Petr Rada and his days became numbered when Ivan Hašek was elected chairman of the Czech football association last weekend. There have been suggestions that Hašek may himself take over as national team coach, a position he would share with Karel Jarolím, who would remain in the post of boss of Slavia Prague.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic have fallen to 21st in the rankings of world football’s governing body, FIFA. Four years ago the Czechs were second in the world; since then they have been gradually sliding down the FIFA rankings.
Radek Štěpánek is in the Czech tennis team for a Davis Cup quarter-final clash against Argentina the weekend after next. There had been doubts that Štěpánek would make the tie as he has been suffering from an ankle injury. Both he and Davis Cup team-mate Tomáš Berdych were knocked out in the fourth round of Wimbledon on Monday. The remaining two players in the team to face Argentina are Ivo Minář and Lukáš Dlouhý.
It should get warmer over the next few days, with temperatures set to reach up to 30 degrees Celsius. We can expect more sunshine and more storms.