Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other members of the government as well as the opposition have condemned Czech President Miloš Zeman’s rejection of EU sanctions against Russia. The head of state told the Council of Europe on Tuesday that, in his view, sanctions were not working and called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “irreversible”.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has accepted invitation of his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to Sochi. The Czech head of state announced the news in New York on Wednesday, where he attended the UN General Assembly. He also said he considered the invitation an honour, adding that he would like to visit other Russian regions as well during his trip in November.
Professor Igor Lukeš teaches at Boston University and has written extensively on modern Czech history, the Cold War and contemporary developments in Central and Eastern Europe. When we spoke recently the conversation took in everything from his increasingly sympathetic view of Neville Chamberlain to his own arrival in New York in the late 1970s. But I first asked the renowned historian about his early life in communist Czechoslovakia.
Politicians, diplomats, members of leading think tanks, and analysts have been gathering in Prague since June 13 for the third annual Prague European Summit. They faced a perhaps unrivalled list of problems facing the continent and the world to chew over during three days with the widespread impression that past certainties are crumbling amid a raft of new and deepening challenges.
The third Prague European Summit gets underway on Tuesday bringing together politicians, analysts and other key figures to discuss the future of the EU. Topics highlighted over the three-day event will include European security and defense, ties with Russia and the US, and economic investment. Key guests this year include Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, Deputy European Commission head Frans Timmermans, and former prime minister of Italy Massimo d'Alema. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek will also speak at the event.
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in China, Czech President Miloš Zeman took a characteristic swipe at the media. Caught on mic just ahead of a joint press briefing with Mr. Putin, Mr. Zeman noted that there were too many journalists present and that they should be “liquidated”. While the joke raised a polite smile from Mr. Putin, it triggered a volley of negative reactions in the Czech Republic where media freedom and efforts to influence the free press are now very much in the spotlight.
President Miloš Zeman raised eyebrows on Sunday with a comment just caught
on mic ahead of a press conference in China with Russian President
Vladimír Putin. Mr Zeman joked that there were too many journalists and
that they should be liquidated - reaction to the apparent presence of
'still more' press at the event. His counterpart reacted with a
smile and indicated that such measures were not required but that
journalists could be "reduced". Mr Zeman's at times hostile
view of journalists is well known.
On Sunday, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek expressed a strong objection to Mr Zeman's joke, suggesting that such a discourse was inappropriate with Mr Putin or anyone else. The president's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, meanwhile, described Mr Zeman's remarks as a mere witticism or bon mot. The president's words have since drawn sharp criticism on the social networks and were slammed by numerous politicians including MEP Pavel Telička who tweeted that the joke was evidence that Mr Zeman's re-election bid did not deserve support.
The Soviet-born, UK-raised analyst and writer Peter Pomerantsev spent most of the 2000s living in Moscow, later recalling those wild years in the hit memoir Nothing is True and Everything is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia. We met when Pomerantsev was on a recent visit to Prague, with the conversation taking in Vladimir Putin’s ultimate aims and, in effect, nothing less than the future of the world as we have known it. But I began by asking him how soon after arriving in Moscow as a young TV producer did he start to feel uncomfortable
The leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has called on socialists across Europe to unite and take on the rising threat from the far right during a speech in Prague. Speaking on Saturday at a Party of European Socialists conference hosted by the Czech Social Democrats, Mr. Corbyn said populist "siren voices" offered the wrong solutions. He warned that the populist right often identified the correct problems, but their solutions were “the toxic dead ends of the past”. The PES conference comes to a close on Saturday.