President Miloš Zeman met with his team of advisors on Saturday to discuss
the progression of the epidemic in Czech Republic, assess the measures
taken to date and the involvement of the police and army in securing the
country’s needs. The meeting was attended by the head of the Central
Crisis Staff, Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, Defence Minister Vladimír
Metnar and Police President Jan Švejdar. The police and emergency services
have been heavily involved in the operation and the army is reported to be
playing a key role in implementing the so-called smart quarantine in South
Minister Hamáček told journalists after the meeting the debate had been informative and constructive and had focussed on balancing safety with the need to sustain the economy as much as possible.
The president is expected to address the nation at midday on Sunday.
President Miloš Zeman is trusted by 51 percent of Czechs, but a January
poll conducted by CVVM indicates that many Czechs are increasingly critical
of his behaviour.
While 59 percent of respondents said they appreciated the president’s contact with the public and his awareness of people’s problems, only 41 percent said the president conducted himself with the dignity that the post requires.
56 percent of respondents said he debased the Office of the President with his behaviour. 44 percent of respondents said they are happy with the way he represents the Czech Republic abroad, 51 percent were not.
President Miloš Zeman appointed 35 new judges to office at a ceremony at
Prague Castle on Thursday. In his address to the nominees, the president
urged them to resist political pressure and rely on their own judgement.
The new judges, 15 of them women, will fill various posts at the regional courts all around the country.
Most of the new judges have previously worked as lawyers. Among the nominees is Sylva Šiškeová, who will be heading to the Supreme Administrative Court in Brno.
Czech MPs have elected Stanislav Křeček as the country’s next
ombudsman. A former Social Democratic Party MP and deputy ombudsman, Mr.
Křeček, who is 81, will replace Anna Šabatová when her six-year term
ends next week. The new public advocate was elected by 91 of 175 deputies
in a secret ballot in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr. Křeček says he will defend the rights of the majority population and has said for instance that Romanies should take care of their own rights. Opposition parties have criticised his election, with the leader of TOP 09, Markéta Pekarová-Adamová saying he would debase the office of ombudsman.
Supporters of Mr. Křeček, who was nominated by President Miloš Zeman, say he is familiar with the institution, having previously worked there, and will help return it to its original mission.
Philosopher and one-time dissident Jan Sokol is perhaps best-known among the Czech public as a failed presidential candidate, having missed out to Václav Klaus in the final round of voting in 2003, the last time the country’s head of state was chosen by legislators. Professor Sokol has known the current, directly elected president since before 1989 – and offers sharp criticism of Miloš Zeman in this the second half of a two-part interview. But first we discuss the period when, after the fall of communism, he was finally allowed to pursue an academic
Previously a strong advocate of cultivating ties with Beijing, the Czech president has signalled a major U-turn. Miloš Zeman now says he will not attend an annual China-organised summit in April, citing disappointment with the level of Chinese investment in the Czech Republic. I discussed this shift and its implications with Jeremy Garlick, a China expert at Prague’s University of Economics.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, says he
understands President Miloš Zeman’s hesitation over whether to attend a
“17+1” summit being held by China in April. Speaking on Czech
Television on Sunday, Mr. Petříček said it was necessary to make clear
to Beijing that the Czech Republic’s expectations with regard to mutual
trade had not been met.
Last week Mr. Zeman, who had long pushed for closer ties with Beijing, said he would not attend this year’s edition of the summit bringing together China and Central and Eastern European states and that the country would be represented by deputy PM Jan Hamáček instead. The president told the newspaper Blesk that China had not delivered on its promises to invest in the Czech Republic.
However, a close associate of Mr. Zeman said later that the head of state might consider going if the China side were willing to sign deals with Czech entrepreneurs on specific projects.
President Miloš Zeman will not go to China in April for the 17 + 1 summit,
attended by representatives from Central and Eastern Europe. He said one of
the reasons for his decision was the lack of Chinese investments in the
Czech Republic contrary to promises made.
Zeman told Blesk.cz. he would ask Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček to represent the country at the talks in China, which he considered adequate to the level of cooperation.
It is the first snub from the Czech head of state, who has spearheaded efforts to bring about a restart in Czech-Chinese relations.
In the same interview, the president confirmed his participation in the planned V-Day celebrations in Moscow.
His participation was uncertain after the Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the introduction of a Czech memorial day commemorating the victims of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Mr. Zeman said he intended to bring up the issue in person during the visit.
Former minister of justice and current government commissioner for human
rights, Helena Válková, defended laws against dissidents during the
Communist regime, the news site info.cz reported on Thursday.
At the turn of the 1970s and 80s, Mrs Válková published a series of articles in which she defended measures used by the Communist regime to restrict the rights of its opponents, the website writes.
It also says she collaborated on writing one of her articles with the state prosecutor Josef Urválek, who was responsible for securing the death sentences of Milada Horáková, Rudolf Slánský and others in 1950s Communist show trials.
Mrs Válková, whom President Miloš Zeman recently proposed for the post of the Czech Republic’s ombudswoman, denied any wrongdoing, saying the article was insulting and untruthful.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated he would welcome the
presence of Czech President Miloš Zeman at next year‘s Victory Day
celebrations in Moscow. In his New Year’s greetings to the Czech head of
state, President Putin wrote that President Zeman’s presence at the end
of war celebrations in Moscow would symbolize “friendship and mutual
respect between the two nations”.
The message comes in the wake of news that President Miloš Zeman is considering cancelling his planned visit to Russia next year in protest against what he described as Russia’s outrageously insolent reaction to the Czech Parliament’s decision to recognize the day of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia as a day of remembrance for those who had been killed by the invading forces.
Moscow said in response to the news that Prague's efforts to return to the 1968 events in order to incorporate them into the current political context, would not contribute to good relations and cooperation between the two countries.