For more than 10 years, the Roma Education Fund has been helping young Roma students to receive higher education and become professionals in their fields. At the moment, the programme is operating in 15 European countries, including the Czech Republic. I spoke to Yveta Kenety from the Czech Republic’s leading Roma advocacy group Romea, who is in charge of the programme here in this country, and I first asked her to tell me a bit more about its objectives.
An alliance of Czech non-profits has just launched a campaign calling for same-sex couples to have the same right to marry as heterosexuals. Under the banner Coalition for Marriage, they argue that marriage equality is only fair and say they aim to spark a nationwide conversation on the issue. I spoke to the group’s Aleš Rumpel and began by asking what the differences were between registered partnerships for homosexuals, introduced in 2006, and marriage.
Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has said the Czech Republic is not planning to take in any more migrants. In an interview for the daily Pravo, minister Chovanec said the country had only taken in 12 of the 1,600 refugees it had been allotted within the EU migrant quota mechanism and he considered it preferable for the country to pay sanctions rather than take in any more. The EU could launch proceedings to implement sanctions in September of this year and the fine could reach several million euros. Minister Chovanec said it would be up to the government to make a final decision.
Over the last six years, 428 Syrian refugees received asylum in the Czech Republic, according to numbers released by the Czech Interior Ministry. Temporary asylum was given 389 Syrian refugees by the end of last year, while 39 received permanent asylum residence permits. The Czech Republic is not regarded as a destination country when it comes to refugees: last year the country less than 1,500 people applied for asylum here.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the heads of government of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Berlin on Monday to mark a quarter of a century since the signing of a milestone treaty on goodneighbourly relations. However the successes of past years were overshadowed by the challenges of the present: the migrant crisis, Brexit and the controversial German road toll.
In the first quarter of 2017, the Czech consulate in Lvov, Ukraine received almost 4,000 applications from Ukrainians looking to work in the Czech Republic, a number three times higher than the entire number of applications one year earlier. Domestic firms have made no secret of their interest in hiring Ukrainian labour, an initiative backed by the government and also the president. But organization has been a different matter: processing applications has been altogether too slow.
The Czech consulate in the Ukrainian city of Lvov is snowed under with requests for work visas to the Czech Republic, Czech Television reported. In the first three months of this year the consulate received close to three thousand visa applications, which is more than in the entire preceding year. Despite a pressing need for more Ukrainian workers in the Czech Republic, only a third of the applications were processed. The Czech Foreign Ministry has now increased the monthly quota for workers from Ukraine promising that as of May the consulate should issue around 800 work visas a month.
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