German President Christian Wulff has arrived in Prague for a day of talks with top Czech officials. Speaking after a meeting with President Václav Klaus, Mr Wulff again addressed a recent debate over the aftermath of WWII, saying that the crimes of Nazism against the Czechs could not be compared with the post-war expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia, and that the time was right for a debate to be held on the matter. Mr Klaus said following the meeting that relations between the two countries were at an historic high. Mr Wulff’s talks with the Czech president and PM are expected to focus on bilateral relations, EU matters and the outcome of the recent NATO summit in Lisbon. Two problem issues that have been highlighted by the Czech side are the restriction of the German job market for Czechs, which is to expire in May 2011, and the often humiliating road checks which Czech drivers are subjected to in Bavaria.
German President Christian Wulff is expected to arrive in Prague on Monday for a day of talks with Czech top officials. He will be received at Prague Castle by President Vaclav Klaus and attend a ceremonial dinner given in his honour. His talks with the Czech president and prime minister are expected to focus on bilateral relations, EU matters and the outcome of the recent NATO summit in Lisbon. Two problem issues that have been highlighted by the Czech side are the restriction of the German job market for Czechs, which is to expire in May 2011, and the often humiliating road checks which Czech drivers are subjected to in Bavaria.
In the course of the two-day summit Prime Minister Nečas met for talks with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper in an effort to get Canada to review its visa policy towards Czech citizens. Canada re-imposed visas on Czech nationals in July of 2009 in the wake of a stream of asylum seekers from the Czech Republic. Ottawa is now in the process of introducing a less benevolent asylum law and Mr. Nečas said he had failed to get assurances that the visa question would be reviewed before such a law was in place.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said Sunday that while a part of foreign aid to Afghanistan was being lost due to corruption within the Afghan government, the alliance must continue to provide its support. Appearing on a Czech Television debate programme broadcast from Afghanistan, Mr Schwarzenberg said that every government in the region of Afghanistan was corrupt, that it cannot be rectified within five years, and that the Czech Republic was hardly in a position to criticise corruption elsewhere. The Czech Republic has implemented 131 projects in Afghanistan at a cost of 200 million crowns, primarily in the province of Logar.
A summit of the Visegrad Group presidents in the West Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary ended on Saturday. The four presidents pledged to jointly support issues promoted by the Hungarian and Polish EU presidencies next year. Primary among those issues will be energy security, namely the integration of transit systems and decreasing dependence on a single source of energy. Czech President Václav Klaus said the summit met expectations and that the participants agreed on the continuing importance of the V4 group, which consists of the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary. The summit was the first opportunity for Mr Klaus and Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič to meet with the newly elected presidents of Hungary and Poland, Pal Schmitt and Bronislaw Komorowski.
The Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg have sought to repair a rift between them. The rift occurred ahead of the recent two day summit of EU heads of government in Brussels when the foreign minister complained that the prime minister had not told him what policy positions over the EU had been taken in a meeting with President Václav Klaus. The prime minister said he was under no obligation to tell him everything. A joint statement released by the government spokesman to the Czech News Agency said the prime minister and foreign minister had lined up their EU positions in pre-summit meetings and shared the same views.
The Senate on Wednesday approved a bill on Czech participation in foreign military missions until 2013. The bill envisages boosting the current Czech contingent in Afghanistan from the current 500 to around 720 next year and maintaining around 640 troops in 2012. Meanwhile, the Czech peace keeping force in Kosovo is being gradually withdrawn. The last Czech contingent has already returned leaving behind 92 soldiers to maintain a base should it be needed in emergencies. The debate on the government-proposed bill was intentionally brought forward so as to secure support for it in the upper chamber where the right wing Civic Democrats lost their majority in last weekend’s senate elections.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is on a working visit to the United States. His meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to focus on bilateral relations, security issues and the prospects of finding a US ambassador to the Czech Republic after President Obama’s nominee Norman Eisen was unexpectedly rejected by the US Senate last week.
The United States Senate has rejected President Obama’s nominee for the
post of US ambassador to the Czech Republic: White House council for ethics
and government reform Norman Eisen. The president made his choice known
following a trip to Prague in July of this year and his nominee was
expected to sail smoothly into the post after being successfully vetted by
the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
The ambassadorial position has been vacant since the departure of Richard Graber in January of last year, following the change of administration in Washington. Observers say it will now remain empty at least until December, following mid-term elections in the US.
The post of United States ambassador to Prague has gone unfilled since the start of 2009, when the previous, George Bush-appointed ambassador was recalled. Now it appears the job will remain vacant for even longer, after the Obama administration’s choice for envoy to the Czech Republic was rejected in the US Senate.
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