The head of President Miloš Zeman’s foreign affairs office, Hynek Kmoníček, was confirmed this week as the next Czech ambassador to the United States. A career diplomat, who in the past served as ambassador to India and Australia, he is going to have to hit the ground running, as an upcoming visit by the Czech head of state and other officials are planned.
Minister for Trade and Industry Jan Mládek says he hopes to visit the Tesla Motors electric car headquarters in the United States and possibly meet with founder Elon Musk to encourage him to site a plant in the Czech Republic. Mládek told the business daily Hospodářské Noviny that his trip to the US could take place in May and exploratory talks with Tesla were already underway. Czech chances of landing an electric car plant have reportedly been boosted by the possibility of exploiting large lithium deposits in the north of the country near the German border. Lithium is a key material for the batteries used in electric cars.
The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States is at the center of media attention world-wide. What kind of leader will he turn out to be and how will his presidency impact European and world affairs? Those are questions that not just Czechs, but people around the globe are asking themselves. American entrepreneur Brady Clough has lived and worked in the Czech Republic since 1993. I asked him about his impressions of the US president-elect and how he interpreted some of his recent comments about the European Union, Brexit
If you’re looking for a Czech who probably has a good take on what the Donald Trump presidency has in store it’s the director of president Miloš Zeman’s foreign affairs office, Hynek Kmoníček. He took up that post after stints as Czech ambassador to India, Australia, and the United Nations. And Kmoníček is the hot tip to become the next Czech ambassador in Washington, likely taking up the post within a few weeks. I asked him first of all what the Trump presidency priorities would be.
In the Czech Republic, much has been made of the new US president’s Czech connections, given his former marriage to Czech socialite and businesswoman Ivana (formerly Zelníčková) from 1977 to 1991. Together they had three children who have now become household names – Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka – and of course Donald Jr. speaks fluent Czech. The hope is that this and other factors could be assets when it comes to Czech-US relations.
Andrew Schapiro, whose mother was born in the city, has been one of the most visible US ambassadors to Prague in recent decades. Since his appointment in September 2014 the diplomat has pursued a distinctly liberal agenda, and notably fell afoul of President Zeman, who said he was unwelcome at Prague Castle.
The US intelligence service, the CIA, has released around 13 million pages of formerly secret documents which the public has recently had only limited access to. Many of the documents, dating from 1947 to the 1990s, relate to former Czechoslovakia. These include, for example, documents from 1947 relating to the state of Czechoslovak tank forces. And another document from 1954 suggesting that the army had short range battlefield nuclear weapons.
What will Donald Trump’s presidency mean for Czech-US relations? And is his ex-wife Ivana really in line to become American ambassador to Prague? Ahead of Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday I discussed those questions and much more with Daniel Anýž, a well-known commentator on Czech-US affairs who was based in Washington for several years.
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