The Czech Republic could receive some 30 percent less money from EU’s cohesion funds in the period of 2014-2020 as a consequence of the bloc’s tighter budget, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said. Between 2007 and 2013, some 26.7 billion euros was earmarked in the funds for the Czech Republic. The cuts are likely to affect all EU member states, according to Mr Schwarzenberg.
In related news, on Sunday, the Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, spoke over the phone with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, saying Israel had the right to self defence. The Czech president, Václav Klaus, had been due to begin a four-day state visit to Israel on Sunday but was forced to cancel the trip in view of the situation. A spokesman could not confirm last week whether an alternative visit would be planned.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg said on Monday at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, that Israel, had the right to self defence. Violence has continued to escalate between the Palestinian territory of Gaza and Israel after an Israeli airstrike killed the military leader of the Palestinian group Hamas. Mr Schwarzenberg expressed the hope that both sides in the conflict would agree to a ceasefire but said that if rockets from Gaza against Israel continued that the country had the right to send in ground troops. More than 80 people have died on the Palestinian side over the last six days; three Israelis have been killed.
President Václav Klaus has cancelled a four-day visit to Israel scheduled to have begun on Sunday, spokesman Radim Ochvat told the Czech news agency on Thursday evening. No details were added. The president announced his visit to Israel back in August. With the trip, he reportedly wanted to reciprocate Israeli President Shimon Peres's visit to Prague two years ago. But this week Israel started retaliatory air and artillery operations in the territory of Gaza from where Palestinian militants had renewed missile attacks on Israel. The Czech ambassador to Israel Tomáš Pojar told ČTK that Prague and Tel Aviv had agreed on the postponement of the trip after mutual talks, taking into account the tense situation in the country.
The Austrian daily Der Standard has reported that an interview with President Václav Klaus during the Czech head-of-state’s visit to Vienna this week went differently than planned – with Mr Klaus allegedly cutting things short after just a few minutes. The newspaper maintains that even though the interview was agreed to in advance, the president allowed only four questions. The reporter asked about the president's views on further EU integration and nationalism before time ran out. Spokesman Radim Ochvat denied the interview had been planned and suggested it was impromptu on the heels of a book presentation and signing. He also said it was also not an exclusive interview but that other journalists were present. Der Standard noted that the Czech president left without a saying a word.
Speaking on the first day of a three-day state visit to neighbouring Austria, the president of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, said on Tuesday that his country would not give in to irrational fanaticism and would carry on using nuclear power. He said the Czech Republic would continue with plans to extend the Temelín nuclear power plant in South Bohemia, adding, however, that the Czech side had taken note of Austria’s objections to the plant and would ensure its safety. Mr. Klaus made the comments after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart, Heinz Fischer, who said that while the two states disagreed on some issues they were still partners rather than opponents.
The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, has congratulated the incumbent Barack Obama on his victory in Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States. Mr. Nečas said cooperation between Mr. Obama’s administration and the Czech government worked very well and he believed the two sides could build on those good relations in the future. Meanwhile, the Czech president, Václav Klaus, told the news site Novinky.cz that while his heart beat on the right rather than on the left, he congratulated the American leader on his success.
The US ambassador to Prague, Norman Eisen, described the victory of Mr. Obama – who nominated him for the post – as a signal of continuity in his country. He said the Obama administration would continue its policies aimed at supporting a path out of the recession. Mr. Eisen hosted a party at the American Embassy in Prague that ran from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, with attendees following the results of the election as they came in on television. .
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has expressed strong support for Serbian accession to the EU, saying Serbia could always count on Czech backing when it came to EU expansion. Mr Schwarzenberg made the statement on Monday after meeting in Prague with his Serbian counterpart Ivan Mrkic. The Balkans joining the EU is one of the priorities of Czech foreign policy. Kosovo, a former province in Serbia which declared independence four years ago remains a point of contention but Mr Mrkic said Serbia was open to discussion and said the matter would be discussed by the prime ministers. The European Commission has made clear that Serbia will be able to move ahead with accession talks if it takes clear steps towards improving relations.
The governments of the Czech Republic and Slovakia are to meet at a joint session on Monday, for the first time since the breakup of Czechoslovakia. The session will be held in the Czech town of Uherské Hradiště before moving on to Trenčín, in Slovakia. Czech and Slovak ministers will discuss cooperation of the two countries in the areas of security, energy, transportation and justice. The event will take place a day after the Czech national holiday marking the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918.
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