Thirty years ago on this day, February 21, then Czechoslovak president Václav Havel addressed a specially convened joint session of the United States Congress. Only a few months earlier, Havel was in prison. Paradoxically, he devoted much of his historic speech that day appealing to Washington to help – not Czechoslovakia but the Soviet Union. Doing so, he said, was the best hope to ensure newfound freedoms.
Britain is currently the Czech Republic’s fifth largest export market and a successful conclusion to post-Brexit trade negotiations is therefore a top priority for Czech diplomats. However, Czechs are also trying to tap in to new business opportunities in the UK and the British government’s promises to invest in its northern infrastructure and hospitals have been identified as potential new avenues for exports.
The US ambassador to Prague, Stephen King, has warned Czech deputies
against introducing a government-proposed digital tax of seven percent,
which would primarily hurt large US companies.
In a letter to the lower house, cited by the daily Hospodarske noviny, Mr. King says a 7 percent tax is discriminatory and warns that the US could effect retaliatory measures. He says it would be wiser to wait for broader regulation agreed on by the OECD.
Czech exporters also recently urged Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to reconsider the government’s proposal to introduce a digital tax. They said they feared damage to Czech-American business relations and possible retaliatory measures from the US administration.
The proposed digital tax of seven percent would apply to Internet companies in the Czech Republic with a global turnover of over 750 million euros (about 19 billion crowns), and domestic sales of at least 100 million crowns per year for taxable services.
It would hit companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. The tax, which should come into effect later this year, is expected to bring about five billion crowns a year to state coffers.
The Czech Republic is to send an army plane with over 7 tons of
humanitarian aid to China to help tackle the coronavirus epidemic in the
country, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček told journalists on Monday.
According to the Foreign Ministry, which is coordinating the effort, the
aid should be sent at the end of the month.
It will be the second big aid consignment from this country. On Monday the Czech Republic sent 4.5 tonnes of medical equipment,including facemasks, respirators, latex gloves, disinfectants and protective medical uniforms to Vienna where it will be put on a plane to China together with aid from other EU member states.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, may attend events in Plzeň in May
marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Czech city at the end
of World War II, the Czech News Agency said. The American foreign policy
chief has received an invitation from the Czech side and confirmation is
now being awaited, it reported.
The Czech News Agency said Mr. Pompeo had discussed a possible visit to the Czech Republic with the country’s ministry of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, at the ongoing Munich Security Conference.
Events marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Plzeň will culminate on May 6, when US forces led by General George S. Patton entered the city in 1945.
As of January the UK has officially left the European Union and a new relationship is currently being negotiated between the two international actors. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs is doing its best to ensure that Czech expats apply for “settled status” in Britain. However, questions regarding future agreements on programmes that have thus far been key in fostering a strong Czech presence in the UK remain.
With Britain having just exited the EU, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček flew to Manchester on Friday to meet members of the local Czech community and discuss their concerns connected with Brexit. Mr Petříček started his trip by visiting a cemetery in Cheadle and Gatley, south of the city. Radio Prague’s Tom McEnchroe has been following the events on the ground and spoke to us on the phone on Friday morning:
The past two years have seen a revitalization in Czech-Indian ties, with intensified cooperation in the academic and business spheres as well as people to people contacts. The driving force behind this effort is the Indian ambassador to the Czech Republic Narinder Chauhan. When the ambassador visited Radio Prague International this week we spoke about the strong bonds between the two nations, the growing Indian community in this country and her life in Prague. I began by asking her how far back Czech-Indian relations actually go.
Archaeologists unearth seven graves dating back to Great Moravian Empire
Czech biochemist involved in developing potential coronavirus treatment
“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery
Valentine’s Day 1945 - When the Americans bombed Prague