The Czech Republic is giving Bulgaria financial aid to help the country deal with a wave of Syrian refugees. Outgoing Interior Minister Martin Pecina signed an agreement to that effect with his Bulgarian counterpart Cvetelin Jovchev in Sofia on Monday. The 25 million crowns are to be used for the construction of new refugee centers and logistics. The Rusnok cabinet approved the aid package in November along with an aid package for Turkey which has already received 500.000 euro for the same purpose.
The UK’s ambassador to the Czech Republic since the summer, Jan Thompson adopts a relatively informal approach that includes driving what must be the country’s only 1969 Škoda with diplomatic plates. Prague is Thompson’s first posting as ambassador and follows stints in conflict zones around the world as well as post-tsunami Thailand. When she visited our studios, I first asked if there had been any particular standout moments in her career to date.
Outgoing Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has become a target of ridicule
after his conversation with cabinet ministers was caught on tape in the
lower house. Using expressive language, Mr. Rusnok complained that he did
not feel like flying all the way to South Africa to attend Nelson
Mandela’s funeral and expressed the hope that President Zeman would want
to go instead. The conversation was picked up by Czech TV microphones and
its transcript caused an uproar on news sites and social networks. The
prime minister later apologized for his words saying he was under immense
The Czech Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that it was not yet clear who would attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral. The President’s Office said President Zeman would not be travelling abroad since he had not yet fully recovered from his knee injury.
Czech top officials have expressed condolences on the death of South African leader Nelson Mandela who passed away on Thursday. President Miloš Zeman expressed great respect for the man who spent a large part of his life in prison fighting an unfair regime; the head of the Social Democrats and the likely next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Nelson Mandela was a courageous and resilient man who lived to see his ideals come true. In a statement, the Czech Foreign Ministry said that South Africa’s first democratic president, was an extraordinary personality of the 20th century, a symbol of struggle for human rights and against the apartheid.
Addressing a meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in Kiev, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout urged Ukraine to observe the OSCE’s human rights norms, including the right to demonstrate peacefully. In a speech devoted largely to human rights, Mr. Kohout said the present developments in the country were a crucial test for its leadership and expressed the hope that the country would stand by its international commitments. The meeting is taking place in a turbulent atmosphere of continued street protests against President Yanukovich and his decision not to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Ukraine, presently holds the OSCE chairmanship.
Ukraine’s refusal to sign a trade deal with the EU stems from the country’s present political and economic situation, Czech Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said at the close of the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Friday. Prime Minister Rusnok said that Ukraine had made the decision based on a short-term rather than long-term perspective. He said that in his view the EU could have been more flexible as well, but what was important was the EU’s doors remained open. The Czech head of government said the Czech Republic was ready to help keep the process of Eastern partnership in motion by organizing a conference on the issue in Prague next spring.
MEP Vladimír Remek is set to resign as member of the European Parliament in mid-December to become the Czech ambassador to Russia in the following month, Mr Remek’s aide told the news agency ČTK on Thursday. Russia approved Vladimír Remek’s appointment in October, and Czech President Miloš Zeman signed his credentials earlier this month. Mr Remek was President Zeman’s choice as the Czech ambassador to Russia; his nomination sparked a conflict with then foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Vladimír Remek became the first Czech astronaut in 1978 when he took part in a Soviet-led Interkosmos programme.
The Defence Ministry is aiming to scrap aging Russian Yak-40 regional jets and replace them with a new medium-sized airliner, the Airbus A319. After 2020, it aims to buy two medium-size transport planes as well as to replace Soviet-made fighter helicopters with a new multi-purpose fleet, the Czech news agency reports, citing material from the ministry to be discussed at the government level next week. The analysis and plans are reportedly critical of the current state of the country’s aircraft fleet.
Canada has announced its decision to lift visas for Czech nationals as of
November 14. The Canadian ambassador to Prague, Otto Jelínek, made the
announcement at a press briefing on Thursday saying the move had been
linked to the introduction of a stricter asylum law in Canada. Visa-free
travel will be possible for a period of up to six months.
Ottawa reimposed visas on Czechs in 2009 following a wave of Czech asylum seekers. It had come under increasing pressure from Prague to remove the travel restriction, with Czech officials linking the issue to the country’s approval of a key trade agreement between Canada and the EU.
The outgoing finance minister Jan Fisher has rejected speculation that he is to be the country’s new ambassador to Luxembourg as of February 2014. The report appeared in Thursday’s Hospodarské Noviny which claimed that according to unnamed diplomatic sources Mr. Fischer was the only candidate for the post. The Czech Embassy in Luxembourg was closed at the end of 2012 within broad austerity measures introduced by the then centre-right government but the country’s new foreign minister, Jan Kohout, ordered its reopening, based on new foreign policy priorities.
New foreigners’ law to change conditions for non-EU nationals
Czech foreign ministry reports record number of visa applications
Restaurant tells visitors to “clear their plates” or pay a 50 crown fine for wasting food
New index shows locations with best quality of life in Czech Republic
Archaeologists unearth rare Renaissance-Baroque brew house in ‘Czech Paradise’