The Czech Foreign Ministry has expressed deep concern over the re-election of leftist authoritarian leader Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela’s presidential election at the weekend. The ministry joined widespread international condemnation of election irregularities, intimidation of political opponents and violations of human rights.
The Palestinian authority in the West Bank has announced it will withdraw
its ambassador from the Czech Republic and three other European countries,
Austria, Romania, and Hungary. The move is a response to representatives
from the countries attending a reception to mark the opening of the US
embassy in Jerusalem.
The Czech foreign ministry said that it had noted the move but would not be taking reciprocal action. Prague has said it will by the end of the month open an honorary consulate in Jerusalem and a so-called Czech House for cultural exchanges by the end of the year.
The Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania this week blocked a joint
declaration by the member states of the European Union criticising the US
for transferring its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the
Czech News Agency reported. The moved, decided by President Donald Trump,
will take place on Monday.
The EU has long advocated a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Israelis see Jerusalem as their “eternal and undivided” capital but the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, as the capital of a future state.
The Czech Republic has backed the EU’s decision to continue to respect the 2015 nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, after President Trump’s announcement that the US would withdraw from the pact. However the Czech Foreign Ministry noted that the international community should not close its eyes to the dangers of Iran’s ballistic program.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has ruled out the possibility that the nerve
agent tested in the Czech Republic could have been used in the attack
against Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain.
The Foreign Ministry issued the statement in response to President Zeman’s claim that a minute amount of the nerve-gas Novichok had been produced and tested in the Czech Republic. The president was citing a military intelligence report.
The Foreign Ministry said that a few millilitres of a nerve gas of the Novichok family labelled A-230 was produced, tested, and destroyed by the Czech Military Research Institute in Brno. “The nerve-paralysing poison used in the U.K. attack is called A-234 and is therefore a different variant than the one tested by the Czech military institute for purposes of defence" the ministry statement said.
It moreover stressed that the substance tested in Brno was immediately disposed of by the laboratory and is not stored anywhere, as was the case with the A230 substance. The Brno institute functions with the approval of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Meanwhile, President Zeman has come under fire for disclosing classified information from a military intelligence report. According to Czech law this is punishable by up to three years in prison, but the president has immunity from prosecution and can only be impeached on grounds of treason.
Experts from Europe and the US met in Prague this week to discuss the hybrid war threat and ways of countering disinformation campaigns against Western countries. In an interview for Czech Radio the head of NATO’s Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, said the Czech Republic underestimates the dangers of the hybrid war waged by Russia.
President Miloš Zeman is due to pay a three day official visit to Poland
from May 9th to May 11th, the president’s office announced on Monday. The
head of state will be meeting with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and
government officials.The talks are expected to focus on bilateral relations
and EU matters.
It will be President Zeman’s second foreign visit since his reelection for a second term in office. His first foreign trip was to Slovakia.
The air strikes against military targets in Syria carried out by US, UK and France in the wake of a recent chemical attack on civilians in the Syrian city of Douma have divided the Czech political scene. While the government endorsed the attack, the president and some opposition parties denounced it as aggressive and unacceptable.
The United States have thanked the Czech Republic for supporting the
strikes on Syria carried out by the US, Britain and France on Saturday
night, the Foreign Ministry told the Czech News Agency on Sunday.
Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický on Saturday night spoke on the phone with US acting US Secretary of State John Sullivan, who informed him about the details of the attack. Mr Sullivan also told Mr Stropnický that considered the Czech Republic a reliable ally.
The US, UK and France have carried out air and missile strikes in Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack last Saturday.
Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová called an emergency meeting of the
National Security Council over the situation in Syria on Saturday. She said
after the meeting that the country's security was not threatened by
Ms Šlechtová said after the meeting that the US, UK and France have clearly shown that the use of chemical weapons can not be tolerated and that the consequences of attack on civilians have been minimized. She also said that the Czech soldiers taking part at the UN peace mission in the Golan Heights and the Czechs working at the embassy in Damascus were safe.