Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš launched a bilateral Czech-Moroccan Business Forum in the city of Casablanca on Wednesday. In his speech, Mr. Babiš said that Morocco could become the Czech Republic’s largest trading partner on the African continent and that the two countries are currently discussing cooperation in the automobile, aircraft and armaments industries.
President Miloš Zeman on Thursday will formally receive the credentials of
four new ambassadors, from the Vatican City, Georgia, Latvia and Albania.
The ceremony will take place at Prague Castle.
The new apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic is Charles Daniel Balvo, an American, who has already served at the Prague nunciature. He replaces Giuseppe Leanza, who has served as apostolic nuncio to the Czech Republic for the past seven years.
Georgia will be newly represented by Mariam Rakiašvili, who previously served as Deputy Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration. Latvia’s new ambassador, Gunta Pastore, previously served as a deputy in embassies in Denmark and Sweden.
The new Albanian ambassador to Prague is Ilirian Kuka, currently a counsellor of business affairs.
The downgrading of the status of several Czech embassies announced recently
does not reflect the importance ascribed to bilateral relations with the
given state, but was a move prompted by financial considerations, the Czech
Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Friday.
The statement comes in reaction to criticism from President Miloš Zeman who said the decision to take away „top priority status“ from the Czech Embassy in Hungary and that in Italy was a serious mistake. He said he would apologize in person to the visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and would push to get the decision reversed.
The ministry, which also downgraded the status of the Czech embassies in Ukraine and Turkey, said the status – or different categories – in which embassies were placed was only related to the salaries paid to diplomats in the given state.
On a state visit to Israel, Czech President Miloš Zeman on Monday addressed a special session of the country’s parliament, the Knesset – the first Czech politician ever to do so. Mr. Zeman highlighted the special relationship between the two countries and vowed to do everything in his power to ensure that the Czech Embassy be moved to Jerusalem.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a statement condemning Russia’s use
of force against Ukraine’s naval vessels. The ministry says the blockade
of the Kerch Strait by Russia is in breach of international law.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said in a tweet on Monday that Russian appropriation of the Sea of Azov was as unacceptable as its annexation of Crimea. The Czech foreign minister said he expected a joint EU statement on the matter, adding that the Czech Republic would be ready to join international sanctions over the incident.
Czech MPs have called for tough measures against Russia after it opened fire on Ukrainian ships on Sunday. Members of the lower house’s Foreign Affairs Committee advocate tougher sanctions – while there has also been talk of forcing a reduction in the relatively high staff numbers at Prague’s Russian Embassy.
The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, discussed the UK’s exit from the
European Union, Austria’s presidency of the EU and bilateral relations
with his Austrian counterpart, Sebastian Kurz, in Vienna on Saturday
evening. Austria’s finance minister, Hartwig Löger, and speaker of
parliament, Wolfgang Sobotka, also attended the meeting.
Mr. Babiš was in Vienna for a concert by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra marking the recent centenary of Czech statehood.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, has described
Russia as “dangerous”. In an interview with Czech Radio, Mr.
Petříček said Moscow was increasingly assertive and represented a danger
as it was spreading disinformation and employing various hybrid threats.
The minister, who was appointed last month, said Russia was a genuine risk to the Czech Republic and other European Union states, adding that reports of the threat posed by Moscow from the Czech intelligence service ought to be taken very seriously.
Mr. Petříček said the Czech Republic should not “wait with its hands on its lap” but should tackle such threats more effectively. He said it was necessary to boost strategic communication and the combating of disinformation within the framework of the EU.
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