Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas will travel to the US later this month where he will meet President Barack Obama, the prime minister’s office said on Friday, adding the agenda will include economic and trade relations between their countries. Mr Nečas is scheduled to arrive in the US on October 26 and will meet the US President in the White House the following day. The Czech prime minister will then attend a reception at the Czech embassy in Washington marking the national holiday of October 28 before returning to Prague. The invitation for Mr Nečas, the first since both officials took office, notably omits the Czech head of state, President Václav Klaus, who has met the US president several times at various occasions but was never received an invitation from Mr Obama or his predecessor, George W. Bush, to the White House.
Canada will postpone the cancellation of visa requirements for Czechs, possibly due to racial tensions in Northern Bohemia. Canada initiated visa requirements for Czechs in 2009 due to a large influx of Roma seeking asylum there on grounds of racial discrimination in the Czech Republic. A new asylum system was supposed to be launched in late 2011 and would allow Czechs to travel to the country without a visa. However, according to the news website Aktualne.cz, than plan has been delayed until next summer. The Canadian embassy in Prague told the website that it is monitoring the situation in Northern Bohemia, where racial tension has caused violence and demonstrations in recent months.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus addressed the UN General Assembly session on Friday, and rejected unilateral steps in the dispute between Israel and Palestine. Palestine wants to file a controversial application for U.N. membership. Mr Klaus said it took two sides and an innovative approach to overcome old and rigid thinking. A solution, he said, could not come through unilateral steps, whether imposed by the UN or otherwise. The president also used the dissolution of Czechoslovakia as an example, saying that the solution had come from within the region itself, rather than having been brought about by external mediators.
The Czech ambassador to Libya, Josef Koutský, may be returning to Tripoli in October, the Foreign Ministry says. One ministry employee is already in the country assessing the situation and determining security requirements for the embassy. Mr Koubský was withdrawn in February when the insurgency broke out. The Czech Republic recognised the National Transitional Council as Libya’s legitimate representatives in late August. The rapid response force of the Czech police will be facilitating the reopening of the embassy and may remain there on a permanent basis.
The Czech Republic has joined the group Friends of Libya, says Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. The group associates countries interested in contributing to Libya's post-war reconstruction and transition to democracy. Speaking to reporters at the UN, Mr Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic had many opportunities in the country thanks to strong former ties between the two countries, when many Libyans studied in the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia. He also said that Libya would be a very interesting partner economically and that Czechs would have to be fast in setting up business relations.
A multi-partisan group of MPs has issued an open letter warning against the recognition of Palestine as a UN member state. More than 80 Czech parliamentarians from all three coalition parties put their names to the letter, as did certain Social Democrats, many of whose other members have supported the Palestinian bid. The letter urges the Czech UN delegation to come out against the motion, arguing that the premature declaration of Palestinian statehood would hurt the peace process and upset the integrity of the UN, and calls for the speedy resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
President Vaclav Klaus has warned against what he sees as a growing tendency to restrict personal freedom and democracy in the interest of global governance. Speaking at the Washington-based Competitive Enterprise Institute on Monday the Czech president said he was now living in a better world than under communism, but he was still disappointed by the fact that he was not living in a more free and liberal society. He said there were strong tendencies to “govern people’s lives” not just from the EU but from NGOs and public intellectuals without any democratic accountability. The Czech president is a frequent guest speaker at the Competitive Enterprise Institute which was founded by Fred Smith, a fierce opponent of strong governance.
The American Republican Senator Charles Grassley again held up the
nomination of the American ambassador to Prague, Norman Eisen, the Czech
news agency ČTK reported on Tuesday quoting US Senate records. This means
that Mr Eisen, who was appointed to the post at the end of last year for a
period of 12 months, might soon have to leave office.
Senator Grassley, who objects to Mr Eisen’s role in the sacking of another White House official, held up Mr Eisen’s nomination in 2009. But President Barack Obama appointed him temporarily taking advantage of a loophole allowing the president to push through nominations while Congress is in recess. The post of the US ambassador to Prague had been vacant for two years before Norman Eisen took office.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has left for the United States, where he will be attending the UN General Assembly meeting in New York and an economic forum in Florida. The Czech delegation to the General Assembly meeting will be led by President Václav Klaus, who will arrive in the US on Monday. The meeting is expected to vote on a Palestinian motion for full UN membership, something the Czech government has indicated it may vote against. Mr Schwarzenberg has said that the Czech position on the matter would depend on the final wording of the resolution. The foreign minister will then be taking part in a conference on nuclear energy convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, followed by a meeting of EU ministers with American and Russian officials.
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger says that Austria will use any means available, be they legal or political, to prevent the Czech Republic from constructing new nuclear power plants. Mr. Spindelegger’s statement came on Friday; he added that energy policy needs to be understood in a European context. Austrian Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich slammed the Czech Republic, stating that the country has not “learned its lesson from the disaster in Fukushima.” The statements from cabinet officials back efforts of local politicians in the South of the country to fight the Czech Republic’s energy policy development plan, which includes the construction of further nuclear plants as well as the completion of the nuclear power plant at Temelín.
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