The European Union needs a strong and viable asylum system, the Czech and
Finnish heads of government Andrej Babis and Juha Sipila agreed during
their talks in Helsinki on Monday.
The two officials said migration was an issue on which the EU badly needed to reach consensus and stressed that migrant quotas were obviously not the answer. The two heads of government said they also had a similar take on EU budget issues, post Brexit.
The Czech Prime Minister is also scheduled to attend the Czech-Finnish business forum and sign a memorandum on Czech accession to the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which has been operating in Helsinki since April 2017.
Before his departure, Mr Babiš told journalists he would also like to visit a Finnish primary school and university to find inspiration for Czech school reform.
The Czech Republic has the lowest jobless rate in the European Union with vacancies now outstripping the registered unemployed. But moves to attract workers from Ukraine are being hampered by red tape. That sparked a lightning visit last week by the Czech labour minister and a raft of reforms are now promised.
The Czech Republic will seek to bring around 2,000 Ukrainian care-givers to
the Czech Republic under a special project, the Minister of Labour and
Social Affairs Jaroslava Němcová told journalists on Monday.
Social services in the Czech Republic have been struggling to deal with a lack of caregivers in old-age homes and institutions for disabled people. Němcová said other areas of the economy would also benefit from facilitating the process of issuing work permits for Ukrainians willing to fill the growing number of vacancies on the job market.
There are currently over 374,000 foreigners working in the country, of those 70,000 are Ukrainian nationals.
Eleven people, two of them Czech nationals, left the country in the course
of last year to join Islamic State militants in Syria, according to an
internal security report released by the Interior Ministry.
In the wake of the defeat of IS, the Czech authorities also noted an unspecified number of IS supporters who attempted to return to different parts of Europe via the Czech Republic. This is considered a grave security risk for the continent and European intelligence services are cooperating closely to minimize the risk.
A few weeks ago the Czech Republic joined “Refugees Welcome International ” a platform that was founded in November 2014 to connect refugees with locals who are willing to share their living space and on a day-to-day basis help refugees feel at home in their new country. I spoke to Tomáš Jungwirth, one of the organizers of the project in the Czech Republic, about how it will work and what he hopes to achieve in a country that is not perceived as being overly friendly to migrants.
The Czech government has turned down a proposal from the lower house of
parliament aimed at boosting legal aid to the poor. The proposal from the
communist party that the state meets at least part of the costs of civil
cases for the poor was turned down.
The communist party has repeatedly backed the move in the past. The government also rejected a proposal from the STAN party aimed at boosting clients’ rights when changing foreign currency. It would have given them the right to back out of transactions within two hours.
And a proposal from the same party allowing high placed government officials to remain on regional councils was also rejected.
Jan Gebert’s powerful new documentary When the War Comes delivers sometimes shocking insights into the Slovak Recruits, a group that run paramilitary boot camps and promote an extreme nationalist ideology. One scene even shows their charismatic leader extolling the virtues of Slavic blood in a talk at a primary school, while the film ends with the fresh-faced autocrat announcing plans to enter politics. When we spoke, Gebert told me his attention was immediately caught when he first heard about the growing organisation.
Women’s only compartments in some trains operated by Czech state rail
company, Czech Railways, does not amount to discrimination according to
Czech ombudswoman Anna Šabatová.
The compartments amount to a legitimate move to try and increase the safety on women when travelling, she explained. Several complaints against the compartments, sometimes almost empty when the rest of the train is full, have been lodged with Šabatová’s office.
Czech Railways introduced the compartments in 2012 following the example of some foreign rail companies. Czech Railways said only a very few seats on trains were reserved exclusively in this way for women.
Police arrested three Turkish nationals traveling on Prague's ring
road for allegedly trying to smuggle 22 people from Iraq, Syria and Turkey
into Germany; the group was found hidden in the back of their van. The
suspects are believed to have smuggled some 100 people or so across the
border in the past.
The news was confirmed on Friday by the spokesman for the National Centre Against Organized Crime Jaroslav Ibehej. If found guilty, the trio could face up to eight years in jail.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad
al-Hussein, has criticised the Czech Republic for alleged discrimination of
the Roma minority and segregation of Roma children in schools.
In his speech at the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, he called on the Czech government to compensate Roma women who were sterilised in the past without their full consent and to terminate the use of both surgical and chemical castration for sex offenders.