Diplomat Jan Sechter is set to become Czech ambassador to Vienna, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday. The post in Vienna has been vacant for almost a year. A number of Czech embassies are to receive new heads, following a period of deadlock when President Miloš Zeman and the then minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, disagreed sharply on some postings. One concerned the sending to Bratislava of Livia Klausová, who is perceived as having supported Mr. Zeman’s bid for the presidency. On Thursday, the Slovak government approved her appointment.
Canada will in the near future lift a visa requirement for Czechs visiting the country. The news was reported by the site Canada.com and confirmed on Thursday by the Canadian Embassy in Prague. Ottawa imposed the restriction four years ago following a spike in asylum applications from Czechs, many of whom were from the Roma minority. The Czech government had appealed to the European Union to put pressure on Canada to abolish the visa requirement.
The Canadian Embassy has confirmed media reports that the government in Ottawa is on the verge of lifting visas for Czechs. Visas for Czechs wishing to visit Canada were reintroduced in 2009 following a rise in the number of Roma people seeking asylum. The Czech government had appealed to the European Union to put pressure on Canada to abolish the visa requirement.
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.
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.
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.
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.