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.
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.
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.
A memorandum, released by the advocacy group Amnesty International last week, calls on the Czech Foreign Ministry to improve the process of approving arms deals for local weapons producers. The analysis says that more than 38% of the total weapons exports in 2012 went to countries where human rights are not respected and where the political systems are barely democratic. This, the organization claims, hurts the positive image of the Czech Republic abroad and contributes to atrocities and violence perpetrated in certain countries. RP spoke to Andor
The European Court of Justice has rejected a lawsuit filed by the European Commission against the Czech Republic and six other EU countries over their VAT rules for travel agents, the court said in a statement on Thursday. The European Commission sued the EU member states over the fact that travel agents were placed in a separate Vat category which applied not just to travellers but also to other clients. The commission believed this represented a breach of an EU directive. However, the court said the directive’s wording in various languages was too vague, and can be therefore applied to all clients.
Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has congratulated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her victory in the general elections. Ms Merkel’s party, the CDU/CSU bloc, won over 40 percent of the vote. The Czech prime minister said the result was extraordinary, adding that he expected no change to the good relations between the Czech Republic and Germany. For his part, the eurosceptic former Czech president Václav Klaus said the elections showed that Germany, as well as the EU and the Czech Republic, had no alternative.
Czech President Milos Zeman also met for talks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The debate covered among others the situation in Syria, Czech participation in military missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan and the Czech defence budget. Mr. Rasmussen praised the Czech Republic’s role in foreign missions and expressed the hope that the Czech government would not lower defence spending.
President Miloš Zeman, who on Thursday concludes a two-day working visit to EU headquarters in Brussels, says EC chief Jose Barroso has promised to exert greater effort on behalf of the EC in getting Canada to lift its visa requirement for Czech nationals. The Czech side has repeatedly tried to elicit greater involvement from the EU on the issue after its own appeals to Toronto went unheard. Canada reintroduced visa requirements for Czechs in 2009 following a wave of largely Romany asylum seekers to the country.
President Miloš Zeman says the European Union will put pressure on Canada to lift visas for Czech citizens, reintroduced in 2009 following a rise in the number of Roma people seeking asylum. Mr Zeman made the comments in a speech to members of the Czech Republic’s permanent representation to the European Union, after meeting European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.
The EU’s new tobacco laws could put hundreds of Czech jobs at risk, President Miloš Zeman told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday, the first day of his visit to EU headquarters. After a meeting with the speaker of the European Parliament, the Czech president expressed hope that during debates on the new rules, MEPs would take into consideration the interest of 1,500 employees of cigarette producer Philip Morris’s Czech plant. The planned EU directive on tobacco products includes a ban on some types of cigarettes such as slims and menthols, and would force producers to place bigger pictorial health warnings on packets.
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