President Václav Klaus and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg have clashed over the nomination of a new ambassador to Ukraine, according to the daily Hospodářské noviny. The president is opposing the suggestion that former Freedom Union chairman and minister, Petr Mareš, fills the spot. Mr. Mareš is currently ambassador to the Netherlands. The paper speculates that president Klaus’ opposition stems from his dislike of politicians from the now defunct Freedom Union which was formed as a breakaway from the Civic Democrats when Václav Klaus led the party. The paper reports, however, that the two men have agreed that former Civic Democrat minister Petr Gandalovič will be the new Czech ambassador in the United States.
Former agriculture minister and Civic Democrat MP Petr Gandalovič is likely to become the new Czech ambassador to the United States, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Saturday. However, his appointment has been delayed by disputes between President Václav Klaus and the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, the agency said. Mr Gandalovič is one of eight new ambassadors proposed by the foreign ministry but the president does not agree with one of the appointments. The previous Czech ambassador, Petr Kolář, left Washington in July. Minister Schwarzenberg also said that there was no hurry in appoint the new envoy given the fact that the post of the US ambassador in Prague has been vacant since January 2009.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has slammed European integration, which he said had weakened democracy and hamstrung member states through excessive financial regulation. Mr Klaus, who is well known for his eurosceptic views, made the comments during a speech at John Hopkins University in Washington on Wednesday. The president is in the US on a five-day visit that will also see him lead a Czech delegation at the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.
President Václav Klaus, Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg agreed on Monday on splitting the foreign affairs agenda. President Klaus will represent the country at EU summits that primarily focus on the union’s external relations, while PM Nečas will attend summits with internal EU agenda. However, the upcoming UN summit in New York as well as November’s NATO summit in Portugal will be attended by both the president and the foreign minister.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is due to arrive in the Czech Republic on Monday for a one-day working visit. His talks with Prime Minister Petr Necas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg are expected to focus on bilateral ties and the renewed Middle East peace talks. The visit takes place on the 20th anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas has asked the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy for the 27-member block to put more pressure on Canada over the matter of visas for Czech citizens. Canada enforced visas for Czech nationals last year in reaction to a stream of predominantly Romany asylum seekers from the Czech Republic and has refused to reverse its decision. The European Commission has expressed solidarity with the Czech Republic and briefly considered the idea of introducing visas for Canadian diplomats in response, but never took the step. The Czech prime minister urged greater solidarity saying that the lack of action suggested the Czech Republic was viewed as a second-class member of the alliance.
Czech leader Petr Nečas is no stranger to EU summits, but Thursday’s which got underway in Brussels is his first as prime minister. Ahead of the summit, the PM made clear he would defend Czech interests and press two key issues: the need for automatic sanctions for the breach of EU budgetary regulations (which the summit aims to address) and to raise the pressure over Canadian visas which were reinstated for Czechs last year.
Prime Minister Nečas says he plans to raise the question of Canada’s visa requirement for Czech citizens at Thursday’s EU meeting, which will also be attended by the bloc’s foreign ministers. Mr Nečas told reporters on Wednesday that Prague regarded the matter as one of European solidarity. The Canadian government introduced visas for Czechs in July 2009 following an increase in the number of asylum applications from Czech Romanies. The European Commission floated the idea of imposing a visa requirement on Canadian diplomats, but as yet has not done so.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has just been to NATO’s Brussels headquarters bearing mixed news about the government’s intentions. On the one hand it wants to quickly downsize its contribution to the ongoing peace mission in Kosovo, but on the other it is offering a bigger presence in Afghanistan.
Czech police will continue to guard the country’s embassies in Iraq and Pakistan, the newspaper Lidové noviny reported. The police are not required by law to protect Czech diplomatic missions abroad, and ending the service would have saved the force 40 million crowns a year. However, Interior Minister Radek John said that after talks with Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg it was decided that the police should continue to provide security at the embassies in Baghdad and Islamabad, which are considered to be at risk. The Czech ambassador to Pakistan was killed in a hotel bombing two years ago. The country’s embassy in Afghanistan is guarded by Czech soldiers.
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