The Czech Foreign Ministry on Monday expressed “surprise” at the Russian authorities’ reaction to an event in Moscow commemorating the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. On Sunday, the Russian police detained eight people in Moscow’s Red Square who commemorated the invasion and honoured eight dissidents who protested against it on August 25, 1968, spending years in jail as a result. In a statement, the Czech Foreign Ministry said it was surprised the peaceful gathering was suppressed, and expressed hope the Russian authorities are aware of the event’s symbolism. However, the Russian authorities do not allow any rallies and gatherings to take place in the city’s Red Square.
Czech Rail has increased security measures on the country’s railway
routes in response to the threat of terrorist attacks in Europe by
al-Qaeda. Jakub Ptačinský, the spokesman for the Railway Infrastructure
Agency revealed the news on Monday. The spokesman did not elaborate on the
measures, saying if they were made public, it would defeat the purpose. He
said the agency had received the warning of a possible threat in Europe
several days ago. BIS, the country’s counter-intelligence service,
however, stressed there was no immediate danger in the Czech Republic.
The German daily Bild reported there was a threat of attacks on high-speed tracks, tunnels and trains, citing a call between al-Qaeda members intercepted by the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). The German Interior Ministry, responded, however, by saying the security situation in the country had not worsened and that security measures as reported by Bild had not been taken. BIS spokesman Jan Šubert said Czech counter-intelligence had not received any information from foreign partners about the Czech Republic being targeted.
The Czech travel agency Exim tours is hastening the return of clients currently in Egypt, over growing fears that the security situation in the country, especially in Hurghada, will worsen in the coming days. Its last client in the country is due to return home on Thursday. In all, two thousand Czechs have stayed on for the moment but are also expected to return home in the coming days. The departure of tourists as well as the cancellation of upcoming package vacations represents losses in the millions. Last Friday, the Czech Foreign Ministry warned Czechs not to travel to Egypt in light of deadly violence and growing unrest.
The former first lady Livia Klausová is to be named ambassador to Slovakia, and former astronaut, Communist party MEP Vladimir Remek will become the country’s ambassador to Russia, President Zeman’s Chancellor Vratislav Mynar told Czech Television on Thursday. Confirmation from Prague Castle means that both nominees have been approved by the host countries. The appointments of these two particular candidates were at the centre of a long-running dispute between the president and then-foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, blocking several other problem-free nominations for weeks. Mr. Schwarzenberg has accused the president of using the Rusnok government to get his own way in the matter. It is not yet clear when the appointments will be made.
Jiří Rusnok’s caretaker cabinet approved two controversial ambassadorial appointments even before its confidence vote last week, the daily Lidové noviny wrote on Tuesday. According to the paper the cabinet approved a number of ambassadorial appointments in late July including that of former first lady Livia Klausová to Slovakia and that of former astronaut and Communist MEP Vladimír Remek to Russia. Both nominations were at the center of a highly public dispute earlier this year between President Miloš Zeman, who supported them, and then foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who was strongly against the candidates. Because of diplomatic protocol, the government’s approval of the two candidates has not been officially confirmed, ahead of approval by the host countries, but the prime minister indicated that the appointments had been pre-negotiated with Moscow and Bratislava.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has put on hold plans to build a new Czech embassy building in Washington D.C. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Jiří Schneider the final decision on the project must be made after the general elections by a government with a strong mandate. The former centre-right government had planned to invest half a billion crowns into a new embassy building which would also serve as a cultural centre. The caretaker administration had started looking into the project and claims that the final cost could double. Building work, which was to have started early next year, is likely to be postponed.
The bodies of a 36-year-old Czech woman and her eight-year-old daughter who died under mysterious circumstances in Hurghada, Egypt, have been flown back to the Czech Republic. Czech investigators have ordered a second autopsy following one which was conducted in Egypt. The police expect that the result should be known within several days. The deceased woman’s husband who himself ended up in hospital remains in Egypt as an investigation into the deaths continues. There has been speculation that the two were poisoned.
President Miloš Zeman is expected to sign several dozen decrees confirming appointments to ambassadorial posts. According to Hynek Kmoníček, head of the foreign department at Prague Castle, the president is expected to sign twenty to thirty decrees of nominees who have already been approved by the host country. The process of naming new ambassadors was stalled for several months after President Zeman and the former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg failed to agree on several names, deadlocking the process. It is now expected that President Zeman will push through his nominee Vladimir Remek as the country’s new ambassador to Moscow and ex-president Klaus’ wife Livia as the new ambassador to Slovakia.
The ministries of foreign affairs and trade have signed an agreement on cooperation in promoting the country’s business interests. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said after the signing ceremony in Prague on Thursday that the agreement would end years of rivalry in this field and mark a new era in promoting Czech interests abroad. He promised better service both for Czech exporters and for potential foreign investors in the Czech Republic. Trade Minister Jiri Cienciala, welcomed the deal saying the trade ministry had handpicked 44 business experts who would be sent to Czech embassies around the world.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is planning to open new missions in Senegal and Myanmar (Burma). Although lately the ministry has closed down a number of foreign missions, including recently the one in Luxemburg, it is hoping to open and re-open a number of them this year in countries that the ministry deems to be of economic significance to the Czech Republic. The mission in Senegal will be operating from the Austrian embassy in Dakar, while the new diplomatic mission in the Burmese Rangoon will have its own offices. Last year, the ministry announced that it will also open consulates in Qatar, Sri Lanka and Colombia in 2013.
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