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 newly-appointed Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini held talks with Czech top officials in Prague on Wednesday on what was his first foreign trip since taking office. Twenty-five years after splitting up, the two neighbor states are cooperating closely to defend their national interests and boost their position in the EU.
Suspected Russian hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin was extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic shortly after a last-minute appeal was rejected by the Constitutional Court. Mr Nikulin was in custody since his arrest in Prague in 2016 on an international warrant. He had also been sought by Russia. So while the decision was welcomed by the United States, not so much the latter.
The Stars and Stripes flew alongside the Czech flag on the front of the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday in honour of a visit by Paul Ryan, the speaker of the US House of Representatives. While the speaker is in the Czech Republic on vacation, he met with the prime minister, the Czech speaker and other officials. In his address to the lower house, a rare honour, he spoke about the United States’ commitment to its allies and openly condemned attempts by Russia to sow discord between Prague and Washington.
The Czech Republic on Tuesday joined 13 other EU member states in expelling diplomats in reaction to the recent poisoning of a Russian double agent in Great Britain. The government’s decision to expel three Russian diplomats from the country received broad support with the only sour note coming from the president.
The Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan is in the Czech Republic on a two-day visit, the highest-placed US official to visit the country in nine years. Although the visit has been labelled as private, the US House Speaker has a packed agenda of meetings with Czech politicians and he will be the first foreign official ever to address a session of the Czech lower house. I spoke with Jan Hornát, an expert on Czech-American relations at the Prague-based Institute of International Relations and asked him to comment on the significance
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.
British Brexit Minister David Davis held talks with top officials in Prague on Monday to discuss the future of Czech-British relations post-Brexit. The meetings, which took place ahead of an EU summit in Brussels next week, were inevitably overshadowed by the diplomatic row between London and Moscow on the use of what is believed to be a Russian-made deadly nerve gas in Britain.