The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says he is opposed to the idea of Ukraine joining the NATO military alliance. Speaking on Tuesday on a visit to Kazakhstan, he said Ukraine should be neutral and ought to undergo “Finlandisation”, meaning it should have a position analogous to Finland during the Soviet era, when it retained its sovereignty but subordinated its policies to those of its powerful neighbour. Mr. Zeman said he agreed with Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who said at the weekend that he could accept NATO cooperation with Ukraine, but not membership.
The Czech Republic should not tell Ukraine what kind of future to choose, the former’s minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, said on Tuesday, hours after Czech President Milos Zeman said Ukraine should remain neutral and not join NATO. Speaking after a meeting in Prague with his Lithuanian counterpart, Linas Linkevičius, Mr. Zaorálek said Ukraine should itself decide in a sovereign manner on its future direction.
The Czech Republic supports a solution to the Middle East peace process under which the Israelis and the Palestinians would each have an independent state, the country’s prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said in Jerusalem on Tuesday. His Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, said he appreciated the fact that the Czech Republic, which he called a traditional ally of his country, did not support a unilateral solution. The Czech leader and several cabinet members held a joint session with Israeli ministers, at which they signed treaties on cooperation in fields such as research, defence, healthcare and culture.
Petr Vokřál of ANO has been elected mayor of the Czech Republic’s second city Brno. He replaces the Social Democrats’ Roman Onderka, who held the post for eight years. Mr. Vokřál’s party came first in local elections last month and he stood unopposed for mayor. ANO is in coalition at Brno City Hall with Žít Brno, the Christian Democrats, and the Green Party. The Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats, the Communists and TOP 09 make up the opposition.
The Ustí branch of the Social Democratic Party has thrown its weight behind local party representatives in the town of Duchcov, north Bohemia, who raised the ire of the party leadership by entering into a coalition with the ultra-right Workers Social Justice Party. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka slammed the decision saying no Social Democrat would enter into what he described as a racist coalition in this town or any other. The national party leadership recommended that the Duchcov cell be scrapped and its members expelled from party ranks for having violated the party’s statutes. However the Usti leadership which dealt with the matter on Monday said it had found no reason to comply with the request since the Workers Social Justice Party was a legitimate political entity which had won support from the locals. Reacting to the news from Israel, Prime Minister Sobotka said he would not let the matter rest.
The German food safety authorities have warned consumers in the Czech Republic about a baby food product found to contain the toxic substance atropine. The respective batch of Alnatura oatmeal porridge made by Holle Baby Food is being withdrawn from the German DM drugstore market chain in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Not all items have been accounted for and the Czech food Inspection authorities have asked consumers to check their purchases and if in doubt return the baby food to their local drugstore.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is planning to ask the state attorney’s office to look into alleged defamation against the Czech Embassy in Ukraine’s Kiev. An internal ministry investigation found there was no truth in letters sent to the director of the Foreign Department of the Office of the President stating that employees at the embassy had pressured ethnic Czechs in Ukraine not to speak about their wish to move to the Czech Republic. Věra Doušová, who organised the repatriation of a wave of Volhynia Czechs in the early 1990s, said publicly that a number of ethnic Czechs in Ukraine had made such an accusation and handed a list of their names to President Miloš Zeman; he has expressed support for their wish to move to the Czech Republic.
The United Arab Emirates is to open an embassy in Prague, E15 reported on Tuesday. The move has already been approved by the Gulf state’s president and government, the newspaper said, quoting a spokesperson for the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The mission would primarily serve to foster economic ties and would make little practical difference to UAE visitors, who have not needed a visa to enter the Czech Republic since March. It is not known when the embassy will open.
The Czech Republic failed to use some CZK 12 billion in available European Union subsidies in 2013, the minister of regional development, Karla Šlechtová, said on Tuesday. The figure is higher than an estimate made in the summer. Minister Šlechtová said her ministry expected the volume of EU funds not accessed this year to be up to CZK 30 billion, adding that a more accurate estimate would not be available until January.