President Miloš Zeman and Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek debated key foreign policy challenges in the year ahead at Lány Chateau near Prague on Saturday. At a press briefing following the talks Minister Zaorálek said they had agreed on the need to build a good working relationship with the new US administration, and stressed the importance of a functional European Union. Other issues discussed were the fight against terrorism and security issues. The talks are part of regular consultations on foreign policy between the government and president. President Zeman, who openly supported US president elect Donald Trump during his election campaign has received an invitation to the White House in April.
The Czech Veterinary authorities have confirmed the first case of bird flu in Prague. The deadly H5N8 virus was confirmed in a dead swan found on the banks of the Vltava River in Prague 7. No special measures will be taken for the time being in the Czech capital. The bird flu has been confirmed in six other locations in the Czech Republic. Thirteen thousand birds have been slaughtered since the first case was confirmed just over a week ago to try and prevent the spread of the disease.
Several dozen people turned out to bid a symbolic goodbye to US Ambassador to Prague Andrew Schapiro who is due to leave his post following the election of Republican Donald Trump to the White House. The group assembled close to Charles Bridge, giving the ambassador a rendition of the popular polka Škoda lásky and singing Goodby Andrew, a song composed in his honour. The ambassador was not present due to other engagements. His fans said they would post the goodbye songs on Facebook for him to see. Andrew Schapiro was appointed ambassador to the Czech Republic by outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama. He took up the post in September 2014.
In the course of 2017 Czech nationals will be able to travel to Kazakhstan for up to 30 days without a visa, the Czech Foreign Ministry announced on its web page. Kazakhstan has eased travel restrictions for Czechs and other EU nationals in order to facilitate participation at the 2017 World Expo which is to take place in Kazakhstan from June 10 until September 10. Forty-seven states will be represented at the expo which is expected to attract over 5 million foreign visitors.
The Czech Republic is suing the European Commission over the new denaturated alcohol guidelines that are to come into effect as of August 2017. The government is thus hoping to prevent the new guidelines coming into force. The EC regulation was approved in order to reduce fraud and administrative burdens caused by too many national denaturing processes, of which there are currently over 150. The EC claims the new unified formula introduced is irreversible. However according to Czech experts the new “Euro” formula is not only easily reversible, creating space for fraud, but is three to four times as expensive as the current denaturing compositions used.
Heavy snow and strong winds are complicating traffic around the country. The situation is reported to be particularly bad in the Krusné Hory Mountains in the north-west of the country where several roads are closed and others are barely passable due to snowdrifts. The Pilsen region also reports serious problems and even drivers on the Prague ring road have been warned to expect complications and delays. Drivers setting out on longer journeys have been advised to make sure they have enough petrol, hot tea and blankets. More heavy snow is expected in the course of the day.
Sunday should be overcast around most of the country with more snow showers and day temperatures between 2 and -2 degrees Celsius. The coming week should bring a fresh bout of Arctic weather with night time lows dropping to -18 degrees in places.