Iraq has agreed to buy 28 Czech-made L-159 jet training aircraft for 19.2 billion crowns, or around one billion US dollars, a spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister told the Reuters news agency on Friday. Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki is in Prague on a working visit, heading a political and business delegation. Details of the deal have been agreed at a meeting of the Czech and Iraqi defence ministers. Four planes will be shipped to Iraq within seven months’ time while the remaining 24 aircraft will be newly produced and delivered in two years. The Iraqi contract is the first successful sale of the aircraft which the Czech government has been trying to sell for years.
Czech President Václav Klaus considers the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for the
European Union "a tragic error". Mr Klaus, who first did not
take the news of the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision serisouly, told
reporters later on Friday the Nobel Peace Prize had a meaning when awarded
to an individual for their unique
actions; however, it turned into an "empty award" when handed to
a bureaucratic insititution, the Czech president added.
For his part, the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, welcomed the Nobel Peace Prize for the EU as the right decision. However, Mr Schwarzenberg also said that he would have personally preferred to see the prize go to an individual.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the European Union deserved the award for its role in advancing peace in Europe. According the committee, the EU helped to transform Europe "from a continent of war to a continent of peace".
On an official visit to Poland on Thursday President Klaus met with his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski, to discuss bilateral ties, European and global issues. In the evening the Czech head of state will attend a dinner given in his honour and meet with the speakers of both chambers of Parliament. During the talks President Klaus praised the quality of bilateral relations saying the two neighbouring states were close in many ways and had developed close business and trade relations. Poland is the Czech Republic’s 3rd biggest export destination with 7.3 billion euros worth of goods being exported to the country last year. Polish imports to the Czech Republic amounted to 7.1 billion euros.
Commenting on the situation in Syria, Prime Minister Maliki said Iraq would never allow anyone to use its territory to supply weapons to Syria. He said his country’s borders were well guarded and Iraq was closely monitoring all flights across its territory. The prime minister said Iraq had already banned a certain country’s flight across Iraq, without specifying the country concerned. The US and some other states suspect Iran of supporting the Damascus regime by supplying weapons to it, using both air and ground routes via Iraq.
German President Joachim Gauck arrived on Wednesday for a one-day working
visit in the Czech Republic, the first in his capacity as president. On
Wednesday morning, he met with his Czech counterpart Václav Klaus at
Prague Castle and later with Prime Minister Petr Nečas. After his meeting
with Mr Klaus, the German president praised Czech-German relations as the
best they had ever been. On Wednesday afternoon, accompanied by President
Klaus, he travelled to Lidice - a village which the Nazis razed to the
ground in 1942 in retaliation for the assassination of Nazi governor
Reinhard Heydrich. In Lidice, all 173 men were executed, women and
were sent to concentration camps, while some of the children were selected
for re-education in Germany. After the war, only 143 women and 17 children
returned to the country.
The visit to Lidice was on the agenda at the German president’s request and he became the first German head-of-state to visit the site of the village. Mr Gauck laid wreaths at the graves of those killed in the massacre and at the Lidice memorial.
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg has expressed appreciation of post-election developments in Georgia. Speaking after a meeting with his Georgian counterpart, Grigol Vashadze in Prague on Sunday, Mr Schwarzenberg welcomed the smooth transfer of power which matched the highest international democratic standards. Georgia is the only country in the region where the government was changed through democratic elections without manipulations, which is something the country needs to be congratulated for, Mr Schwarzenberg added. For his part, the Georgian foreign minister expressed gratitude that the Czech Republic’s continued support for his country’s Euro-Atlantic orientation.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, in an interview for The Cable
– one of US magazine Foreign Policy’s blogs, has said the West has
slow to react to steps taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his
view, to re-establish Russia as a regional hegemon. In the interview, Mr
Schwarzenberg said that President Putin had installed an aggressive
autocracy, one he suggested was close “not to Stalin but to Russian Tsar
Nicholas I”; he stressed that the Obama administration’s “reset”
policy had not been able to influence the heading of the Russian
The Czech foreign minister has consistently voiced concerns over the situation in Russia, including human rights. Most recently, Mr Schwarzenberg condemned, for example, the trial of members of the political punk band Pussy Riot sentenced to three years in prison. Mr Schwarzenberg was in New York for the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly; he met earlier this week with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has accused President Klaus of damaging the country by vetoing the government’s pension reform bill. Speaking in New York, where he is attending a session of the UN General Assembly, the Czech foreign minister said the pension reform should have been effected 15 years ago and delaying it further was putting an immense burden on the state budget. President Klaus on Monday vetoed the bill on the grounds that the government had failed to secure consensus on the reforms among experts, politicians and the broad public. The bill must now go back to the chamber of deputies where the governing coalition will need to secure 101 votes to override the president’s veto. Since the government no longer has a majority in the lower house this may prove highly problematic.
Prague’s Czernin Palace, the seat of the Czech Republic’s Foreign Ministry, opens to public on Sunday between 10 AM and 4 PM, offering an opportunity to visit the 18th century palace. People can see among other things the apartment of former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jan Masaryk who tragically died there in 1948, and can also stroll through the palace gardens. Viewings last for about an hour. The Open Door Day also featured photo exhibits in the palace and concluded with a concert by the Allstar Refjudží Band.
Speaking after a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the Czech army’s chemical warfare unit could take part in a possible allied intervention in Syria. Ms Clinton acknowledged the offer and expressed gratitude that the Czech embassy in Damascus had taken over US consular agenda in the country, Mr Schwarzenberg added. At the meeting, the officials also discussed the Czech-US treaty on the protection of investments which Czech officials would like to amend. During his US trip, the Czech foreign minister will also attend a session of the UN general assembly.
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