Karel Schwarzenberg, the head of the centre-right TOP 09 and former minister of foreign affairs, has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants control over the whole of Ukraine, adding that eventually the Russian leader would succeed. Mr Schwarzenberg made the comments during a debate focusing on security in the Baltics on Monday. He made clear he did not see ceasefire agreements in Minsk as stopping Moscow’s plans. Stefan Fuele, the former European commissioner for EU enlargement, in the same debate said Russia saw intervention in Ukraine as a means of reaching the same power level as the United States.
Czech President Miloš Zeman at the weekend made headlines when he told the online Parlamentní listy that the current ambassador to Prague was no longer welcome at Prague Castle. The president told the news site the door was closed, after the US ambassador raised doubts last week about the president’s planned visit to Russia. Although Ambassador Andrew Schapiro said no one could presume to tell the president what to do, he suggested that attending a military parade in Moscow on May 9 was unfortunate.
The US State Department has expressed “full confidence” in the country’s ambassador to Prague over a dispute with the Czech president. Miloš Zeman said ambassador Andrew Schapiro would not be welcome at his office after the latter said it would be unfortunate if Mr. Zeman were the only EU head of state to attend a military parade in Moscow in May given that Russian forces were illegally destabilising Ukraine. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said on Monday the US understood countries wanted to recognise those who made sacrifices in WWII; however, this is not time for business as usual, she said. Mr. Zeman says it would be disrespectful not to attend ceremonies marking the end of the war and that no ambassador will tell him where he can and cannot visit.
The Czech government on Monday confirmed it had agreed to allow US military personnel and vehicles returning from a NATO operation in the Baltic states to travel across the Czech Republic to a military base in Germany. The operation, titled Atlantic Resolve, was a show of force and solidarity for NATO countries bordering Russia, nervous over that country’s intervention in Ukraine.
Czech President Miloš Zeman pledged his unwavering support to Israel on Monday during an appearance at the AIPAC lobbying organisation’s annual summit in Washington D.C. Mr. Zeman’s comments, in which he praised Israel as a regional beacon of democracy, come in the wake of a similar position expressed at events marking the anniversary of the Holocaust back in January.
Hynek Kmoníček, former ambassador and current foreign affairs advisor to President Miloš Zeman, could replace Petr Gandalovič as ambassador to the United States, financial daily Hospodářské noviny writes. According to the daily, the appointment of a leftist candidate, unlike Mr Gandalovič of the opposition Civic Democrats, is likely given the current political constellation: a centre-left government and foreign minister as well as left-of-centre president. The daily suggests the move could already have gone through, but for two US visits lined up for President Zeman in 2015. The daily reports that a changing of the guard prior would be less than strategic. Past ambassadors to the US include close aides to the late president Václav Havel: Alexandr Vondra and Michael Žantovský. The latter is the current Czech ambassador to the United Kingdom.
The deputy chair of TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek has confirmed that he will make a bid for the party’s top post when its present leader, Karel Schwarzenberg, retires from politics. Mr. Kalousek made the statement in an interview for Radio Impulse. Mr. Schwarzenberg, 77, recently said he would remain at the helm at least until the party’s next election conference which is due to be held at the end of this year.
A bust of the late Václav Havel has been unveiled at the US Congress in Washington. Wednesday’s ceremony was the culmination of a series of events held under the banner Celebration of Freedom marking the 25th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, in which Mr. Havel led the country to democracy after over four decades of communist rule. The dissident turned president is only the fourth European to be honoured in this way. Among those who spoke at the unveiling ceremony were John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, and Bohuslav Sobotka, the Czech prime minister.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is on a four-day visit to the United States, is set to meet with vice president Joe Biden in the White House on Tuesday. Mr Sobotka along with his delegation, including former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg and former First Lady Dagmar Havlová, on Monday attended a concert of the Czech Philharmonic at the National Cathedral in Washington to mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The Czech Prime Minister is also set to unveil a bust of Václav Havel in the Capitol Building, where Mr. Havel addressed a joint session of Congress in February 1990.