Czech ambassadors from around the world congregated in Prague this week for their annual round of consultations. Among the foreign policy issues on their agenda were security, economic diplomacy, EU-related matters and regional cooperation. During a small break in their busy agenda, I met with the Czech Ambassador to France Petr Drulák to talk about Franco-Czech relations, the country’s position in the EU and the role of the Visegrad alliance. I began by asking for his take on Prime Minister Sobotka’s recent proposal that the Czech Republic should
The Czech Republic could become the dustbin of Europe with regard to sub-quality foodstuffs brought into the country without the help of the European Union, the Czech Secretary of State for European Affairs, Aleš Chmelař, commented on Friday. Chmelař added that only the EU could take a position on whether cross border discrimination existed or not. The issue of lower quality foodstuffs being sold in Central Europe was taken up by the V4 grouping of countries last week at a meeting in Budapest. Chmelař said that Visegrad leaders would address the issue again in September and hoped to see progress being made.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he and the leaders of the other three Visegrad states supported the improvement and deepening of relations between the European Union and Israel at a meeting with their Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Budapest on Wednesday. Mr. Sobotka tweeted that the EU and Israel were connected by historical ties, democratic values and economic interests. The Czech leader also said that he had backed cooperation with Israel in the fields of security, cyber-security, innovation, science and research during the meeting in the Hungarian capital.
Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka is due to meet with Egyptian president Abdale Fattah el Sisi on Tuesday in Budapest as part of a regular meeting of the Visegrad Four group. The meeting should discuss the situation in the Middle East and North Africa as regards the threat of terrorism and migration. A bilateral meeting between Sobotka and el Sisi should also broach the issues of energy security and economic, cultural and education cooperation, according to the Czech government. Hungary has taken over the presidency of the four nation V4 grouping also including Poland and Hungary.
A two-day EU summit in Brussels started on Thursday with a spat between the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron and countries of the Visegrad group. Expressing his commitment to put the EU project back on track, the French leader accused the V4 of defying Europe’s principles and values by rejecting the EC’s migrant quotas.
Czech Prime Minster Bohuslav Sobotka met with his Slovak and Austrian Counterparts, Christian Kern and Robert Fico, in Brno on Thursday. The main topic on their agenda was migration crisis and the European Union summit in Brussels, which gets underway on Thursday. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico suggested it would be more effective to discuss migration among smaller groups of EU member states, rather than in the whole of EU. The prime ministers have also discussed regional cooperation, education and the so-called Industry 0.4 Initiative, which involves the digitalisation of the manufacturing sector.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the heads of government of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Berlin on Monday to mark a quarter of a century since the signing of a milestone treaty on goodneighbourly relations. However the successes of past years were overshadowed by the challenges of the present: the migrant crisis, Brexit and the controversial German road toll.
Legal position of EU citizens in Britain and financial obligations of Great Britain towards EU countries will be among the V4 priorities in negotiations over Brexit, prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries agreed at a meeting in Warsaw on Tuesday. The leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland repeatedly rejected the idea of cutting funds to countries that refuse to take migrants. The V4 prime ministers are also scheduled to take part in an international Innovators Summit being held in the Polish capital and sign a so-called “pact for innovation”.
EU leaders meet in Rome on Saturday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding Rome treaty and look forward to the future. That’s the theory, but the Czech Republic and other Central European countries have already put down warning markers over what they regard as moves towards a more multi-speed Europe.
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