Czech politicians have welcomed the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, with Prime Minister Babiš calling it a breakthrough in bilateral relations that will open dialogue on many burning issues. However political analysts predict that the new relationship may bring trying times for Europe. Commentator Daniel Anýž says the two leaders clearly have a common interest in a weak European Union.
Donald Trump has made headlines this week by calling on America’s NATO allies to increase their defence spending. His words have met with a mixed response here in the Czech Republic, with some acceptance that armaments purchases must be stepped up – but questions surrounding the speed and focus of such spending.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has hailed the agreement on migration reached after nine hours of gruelling talks at an EU summit in Brussels as a huge success for the Visegrad Group’s common policy. The newly-appointed head of government, who has vehemently fought the idea of mandatory quotas, said the focus had shifted with the accent now on voluntary cooperation and the need to resolve the migrant crisis outside of Europe.
How has the US entertainment industry shaped how politicians are presented to American voters? How liberal is Hollywood in reality? And is Donald Trump the ultimate showbiz president? Those are just a few of the issues I discussed with historian Kathryn Cramer Brownell, author of Showbiz Politics: Hollywood in American Political Life. The Purdee University academic was in Prague recently to deliver a talk on just that subject at the city’s branch of New York University.
The Czech-Russian Discussion Forum, a new annual platform created by the two countries’ respective presidents, met for the first time on Thursday, in a Prague session closed to the public. The aim is to promote open discussion on a wide range of topics, including bilateral relations and chapters in their shared history. The Forum has, however, been derided by a number of Czech public figures as a potential propaganda tool for the Kremlin.
Tom Dine is the president of the American Friends of the Czech Republic. The Washington-based foreign policy expert doesn’t have Czech roots. But he does have close ties to Prague, having been president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – which is based in the city – between 1997 and 2005. After a tree-planting ceremony by the Woodrow Wilson statue opposite the Main Train Station, which the American Friends helped restore, Dine shared some recollections of his years in the Czech capital.
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 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.