The terrorist attacks in Paris have shown that Islamic terrorism currently poses a real threat to the whole European Union as well as the Czech Republic. There is no point in pretending that we, the Czechs, can simply ignore it. The war in Syria has radicalized some of the fundamentalist religious groups, and there are EU citizens, too, who have joined the ranks of radicals fighting for ISIS. Such people put all of us at risk, especially after they return home. The Paris attacks are not the end of the fight against terrorism. On the contrary, they are the beginning!
The largest flow of migrants since the civil war in former Yugoslavia is one of the major challenges Europe has to face. We cannot bury our heads in the sand over this issue. What I consider as crucial is that the EU should unify its asylum policy strategy. For example, people with criminal conviction records or people whose asylum application has been repeatedly refused must not be allowed to enter the EU territory. It is not only a question of accepting refugees, but also a question of being able to integrate them into the society that has taken them in. All member states must respect the rules that are in place. And since money makes the world go round, it is necessary to define the rules in such a way that would prevent member states from demanding more and more money.
Provided that there are no serious obstacles to it, children have the right to be raised by both parents and parents should have the right to raise their own children. Unfortunately, we can often see that it is not the case everywhere. Czech courts favour mothers in custody battles, even if there are objective preconditions that the father would be able to provide better care for the children than the mother. However, deep-rooted attitudes of Czech courts are difficult to change.
I have also been genuinely shocked by unjustified removals of children from their families. For me, it is scary to see that countries like Great Britain or Norway, often referred to as examples of a free and democratic society, fail to adequately respond to seemingly banal issues such as raising children. Apart from parents, it is also children themselves who are seriously affected. Unfortunately, the case of Eva Michaláková, which has recently attracted media attention, remains far from being isolated, as it is just the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of other parents could practically tell the same story. However, a number of court decisions indicate that the interest of the child comes last. And I ask why.
Presently, the Czech Republic only has very few young people with new ideas who would have the courage to establish their own startup. Such people, however, are extremely important and I would even say crucial for the modern economy. I would be thrilled to see that one day the Czech Republic is at least as significant for the central European region as Silicon Valley is for the whole world.
I was not at all pleased by the result of the British referendum. However, we have to respect it. The fact that Britain is leaving the EU will be felt in the Czech Republic as well as other smaller countries because this influential island country helped to balance the power of two big countries, Germany and France, and often stood on the side of the Czechs if they had a different opinion. All European politicians should see Brexit as a warning finger, as a sign indicating that the EU needs to be reformed. The EU has to present a vision that is not difficult to accept and understand for most people. In order to achieve this, the EU must be able to give its citizens sufficient arguments to justify its decisions.
Rape is one of the most common causes of psychological problems and frustration of women living in the “Jungle” in Calais. Such distress even leads to self-harm or violence, which often means to be locked into an irreversible death spiral. Calais is definitely not the only place where such things happen. Therefore, we should begin to talk openly about raping migrants and their forced prostitution. It seems to me that all discussions on this topic fail to pay attention to the fact that women and unaccompanied children have been through hell and back and that it must not happen again in Europe. Therefore, it is necessary to put pressure on the French authorities to immediately shut down the Jungle “camp” and imprison those who commit sexual violence and live on migrant smuggling. Europe must make it clear that it is willing to help real refugees, and that rapists and migrant smugglers will be severely punished.
If you have a second-hand car from abroad, the chances are that you have come across some cheats. Actually, your car may have travelled more kilometres that the odometer reading officially states. What should we do about it? It is necessary to look for inspiration in countries with an effective system in place. One of them is Belgium. The Belgian system has been successful not only for its repressive measures, but first of all for its database containing odometer readings from all vehicles registered in Belgium. And Slovakia, too, is already ahead of us as there are high penalties for odometer windbacks. Moreover, used car dealerships are to be responsible for the true readings of odometers in vehicles they offer. Unfortunately, according to experts, the Czech Republic is often a place for making crashed or stolen vehicles legal. Introducing effective legislation at the national level is only the first step. Since crime does not recognize borders, we will be able to prevent this orometer crime only if we have a unified system of control in all EU member states.
The Czech Republic is an export-oriented country and therefore its key interest is to participate in a duty-free market with a free exchange of goods with as many countries as possible. If TTIP allows for the creation of a free trade area with more than one billion inhabitants, it will only be good for us. Results acceptable for both parties can only be reached through difficult negotiations. However, their success is essential. As for the Czech Republic, experts estimate the economic growth rate at 2.5% a year. The United States of America with more than three hundred million inhabitants and strong consumer purchasing power, where the average monthly salary is roughly CZK 75,000, represent a very interesting market for us. Currently, the EU and the USA together account for 47% of the global GDP, which is nearly half. At the same time, both entities produce nearly one third of global trade. Moreover, interconnected direct investments reach nearly 3 trillion euros. This means that both entities represent and will long represent two key players in the field of the global economy.