President Putin’s re-election for a fourth term in office has evoked mixed reactions in the Czech Republic, reflecting the different perceptions of Russia today. President Zeman, who is seen as a strong supporter of President Putin, presents Russia as a promising business partner, but many politicians and ordinary people in this country still see Russia as a threat. So is Russia under Putin a partner or a threat – that’s a question I put to Petr Kratochvíl, head of the Prague-based Institute of International Relations.
Dr. Sean Hanley is an expert on democracy and parties in the Czech Republic and is the author of The New Right in the New Europe: Czech transformation and right-wing politics. When we sat down last week at his office at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, the conversation took in the demise of the Czech right since the book’s publication in 2007, the rise and rise of ANO and the immediate prospects for prime minister designate Andrej Babiš. But I first asked the political scientist what had led him to his
President Miloš Zeman met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Sochi,
beginning the official program of his five-day visit. The two met at Mr
Putin’s personal residence, Bocharov Ruchei, often the site of top
meetings during state visits.
According to the Czech News Agency, Mr Putin expressed appreciation for Mr Zeman’s interest in deepening economic cooperation between Russia and the Czech Republic, despite differences. On his trip, the Czech president is being accompanied by a business delegation representing more than 130 firms, looking for new opportunities for trade.
President Zeman expressed regret that it had not been possible for “technical, not ideological reasons” to transfer the reliquary bust for the skull of Saint Ludmila to go on display for two days in Russia; St Ludmila is revered in the Russian Orthodox Church.
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.