The Czech Foreign Ministry has summoned Russia’s ambassador for talks
over the news that apartments for Russian diplomats are reportedly being
rented to third parties in Prague.
The ambassador was summoned following reports in the Czech media that thousands of apartments intended for diplomatic personnel were being leased to third party tenants, which is in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova previously said that the reports were based on local sources that “distort the truth.”
Czech President Miloš Zeman will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin
again at the end of next month, Seznam Zprávy reported. The two leaders
are expected to hold informal talks while both are in the Chinese capital
Beijing. Mr. Zeman will be in China between April 23 and 28 on what will be
his fifth visit to the country as Czech head of state.
The Czech president has cultivated warm relations with Moscow and Beijing since his election six years ago.
Czechs are looking back at 20 years in NATO. Their country joined the Alliance together with Hungary and Poland on March 12, 1999. Since then NATO has grown significantly and undertaken several major international military operations. Vít Pohanka highlights the most important developments in the Alliance over that time and how the Czech Republic participated in them.
At a ceremony marking the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO twenty years ago, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček handed out medals of merit to 14 people who assisted the country in preparing for membership and meeting its new obligations. The laureates included key players on the international scene at the time as well as Czech diplomats and military officials who worked hard to make it happen.
At Prague Castle on Tuesday senior Czech politicians addressed a ceremony marking exactly 20 years of the country’s membership in NATO. The country’s prime minister said the alliance needed to be more active in some regards but described membership as crucial, while the foreign minister highlighted the threat posed by Russia.
The Czech Republic is marking the 20th anniversary of its entry into NATO
on March 12th, 1999. It joined the alliance together with Poland and
Hungary in NATO’s first expansion eastwards after the fall of communism
in Central and Eastern Europe. The celebrations, which include gatherings,
debates and exhibitions, are culminating at Prague Castle where President
Miloš Zeman is hosting heads of state, NATO representatives and foreign
Foreign visitors, government officials and NATO representatives have been addressing a security conference held to mark the anniversary. In his speech, Prime Minister Andrej Babis highlighted the fact that NATO membership is in the Czech Republic’s vested interest since it provides a guarantee of security. He said the Czech Republic would meet its commitment to spend two percent of the country’s GDP on defence by 2024.
Speakers addressing the conference cited international terrorism, Russia’s expansionist ambitions and cyber warfare as the main threats facing NATO today.
Among the VIP guests attending the celebrations are the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright who was a leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to central Europe. She is among 14 people who will receive the Medal of Merit Award for Diplomacy from Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has invited members of the US Congress
in the "Friends of the Czech Republic" group to visit Prague
after the European elections in May.
He extended the invitation to the bipartisan group, whose members have constituencies with significant Czech communities, on Friday, the last day of his official visit to Washington.
Earlier in the day, Mr Babiš laid a wreath in honour of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon, where 184 people were killed when a hijacked plane crashed into the building.
He was accompanied by the US Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, with whom he discussed the joint fight of American and Czech soldiers against international terrorism. They also discussed cooperation to modernise the Czech Armed Forces.
The Czech Prime Minister also met officers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and representatives of major US Jewish organisations.
Czech PM Andrej Babiš held talks with President Donald Trump at the White
House on Thursday.
At a press conference after the meeting, Mr Babiš said he felt that he had
a personal rapport with Mr Trump, and that he had invited him and his
daughter Ivanka to visit the Czech Republic.
He also said that he had appealed to Mr Trump not to introduce new tariffs on trade between the EU and the US, which could harm the Czech Republic. The two also talked about cooperation on matters of defence and security.
The White House meeting was the highlight of the Czech PM’s three-day visit to the United States, which also included a meeting with CIA officials at Langley.
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