The person most likely to become the Czech Republic’s next finance minister has set off a debate about the country’s foreign policy priorities. Speaking at an economic forum, Jan Mládek of the Social Democrats said criticism of Russia and China could cost thousands of Czech jobs. Critics say human rights have to come before exports.
Ex-president Vaclav Klaus’ wife Livia is now an employee of the Czech Foreign Ministry and is preparing for her diplomatic post abroad, the ministry’s press department said on Tuesday. Ms. Klaus, who herself is Slovak, is to serve as the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Slovakia. Her appointment, pushed through by President Milos Zeman, roused plenty of controversy with speculation that she was being rewarded for actively supporting Mr. Zeman’s election campaign.
Social Democrat shadow finance minister Jan Mládek has said the Czech Republic should curb its criticism of Russia and China in the interest of improving business ties with the two countries. At a business conference in Prague Mr. Mládek said the Czech Republic needed to expand its business interests outside the EU, predominantly to Russia and China and noted that excessive criticism of these countries’ human rights records was not aiding the process and was costing the country thousands of potential jobs. This view was supported by the acting chairman of the centre-right Civic Democrats Martin Kuba who said that even superpowers often tailored their diplomacy to their business interests.
Remarks by President Miloš Zeman have hurt the Czech Republic’s relations with Arab countries, the Palestinian ambassador in Prague Djamal Muhammad Djamal said on Friday. Ahead of his trip to Israel this week, Mr Zeman suggested the Czech embassy should move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Speaking after a meeting with the Czech president, the freshly appointed Palestinian ambassador said he had asked the president to make steps to mitigate the impact of his words. For his part, Mr Zeman said that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would only occur after a peace deal is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to the Palestinian news agency MAAN, Czech officials have assured the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that the Czech Republic is not planning on moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv. The PLO expressed outrage at a recent statement from President Miloš Zeman that he would like to see the Czech embassy moved to Jerusalem. The Czech ambassador in Syria, Eva Filipi, told the news agency that the president’s words were misinterpreted; she said that the Czech Republic supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with the capital in Jerusalem. The Arab League has also invited the Czech ambassador in Egypt, Pavel Kafka, to explain the Czech president’s statement to its representatives.
Czech and Israeli entrepreneurs have agreed to cooperate in finding new markets in Africa and Asia, according to the president of the Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce Pavel Smutný. Czech-Israeli business talks took place within President Miloš Zeman’s four-day state visit to Israel. Czech businesses, which export largely to EU member states, are seeking ways to diversify their interests and find new markets in Africa, Asia, China and India. They have criticized the former Czech government for closing down dozens of Czech embassies around the world in order to save money, saying the lack of representation was harming the country’s business interests.
Speaking on a four-day state visit to Israel, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, thanked his counterpart Shimon Peres for using the country name Czechia rather than the Czech Republic. Mr. Zeman said he himself preferred to use Czechia as it was nicer, shorter and less cold than the Czech Republic. After the breakup of Czechoslovakia some people began using the name Czechia, which is analogous to the popular Czech-language name Česko. However, it has not really caught on.
The Czech president on Monday toned down his controversial proposal that the Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv should be moved to Jerusalem. In response to outraged reactions from Palestinian leaders and criticism at home, Mr. Zeman told journalists he had envisioned such a move only after the conclusion of the Middle East Peace process and the construction of a residential quarter for foreign diplomats in Jerusalem.
President Miloš Zeman’s proposal to move the Czech embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has evoked widespread criticism in the Czech Republic. The president made the suggestion in an interview for the daily Jediot Achronot ahead of a two-day visit to Israel, saying that he would try to get the Czech government to consider the idea. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok immediately distanced himself from the notion, saying his cabinet had no intention of debating it and noting that the president’s statement could temporarily worsen relations with the Arab world.
The Czech Foreign Ministry issued a public statement on Saturday reiterating the country’s support for the Middle East peace process. Prague supports the two-state solution as the only possible means for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace and security. We firmly believe that through direct peace negotiations the parties will come to an agreement on all disputable issues, including security, borders, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem, the ministry said. The statement came just hours after Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat voiced a strong protest against President Zeman’s proposal saying it undermined the Middle East peace process and thwarted efforts made so far to reach agreement.
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