A snub by Czech President Miloš Zeman, who said an interview for
Parlamentní listy that the door to Prague Castle, the seat of the head of
state, was closed to the US ambassador, has caught the attention of the
international media, including Der Spiegel and The Wall Street Journal. Mr
Zeman made the snub against the US ambassador, Andrew Schapiro, on Sunday,
after the latter criticized the Czech president's intention to attend
celebrations in Moscow marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.
The ambassador suggested that Mr Zeman's decision to attend a military parade - while other EU heads of state will be boycotting the event over Russia's annexation of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine - sent an unfortunate symbolic message. The ambassador issued a follow-up saying he was surprised by the president's reaction, but that he stood by his statement. Der Spiegel suggests Mr Zeman's planned attendance in Moscow on May 9 has hurt Czech-US relations. The Wall Street Journal, like the Czech press, notes that Mr Zeman is likely to be the only western head-of-state to attend, joining the ranks of guests such as North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The Russian media has largely praised the Czech president for his decision to attend the celebrations.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has said that the door of Prague Castle, the seat of the head of state, is closed to US ambassador Andrew Schapiro, according to a report by the news server Parlamentní Listy. The server said that the president’s stance was a reaction to Schapiro’s criticism of Zeman for his intention to attend celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. Zeman pointed out that he would not expect the Czech ambassador to Washington to presume to tell the US president where he should make his foreign trips. Zeman has said he visit to Moscow is to pay tribute to those who fell in the war and not recognition of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Most EU heads of state have said they will boycott the celebrations.
Close aide to the president Hynek Kmoníček will replace Petr Gandalovič as the next ambassador to Washington, the daily E15 reports. It is not the first time the story has surfaced. Mr Gandalovič’s term is to end this year. Mr Kmoníček is a former ambassador himself, having served in five countries including India. The decision is now up to the government, E15 writes.
The 120 vehicle strong US military convoy, which is expected to pass through Czech territory at the end of this week is raising emotions on the social networks. Protesters, largely communist party members and sympathisers, plan to demonstrate against the transfer at a gathering on Wenceslas Square on Saturday, while its supporters urge the public to welcome the US troops with Pilsner beer and plan gatherings of their own in a show of solidarity with the undertaking. The convoy, returning from a NATO exercise called Operation Atlantic Resolve in the Baltic states, will travel through six countries to a military base in Germany. It will spend four days in the Czech Republic, taking three separate routes before regrouping in an outer Prague district and heading to Plzeň and the Czech-German border.
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.
A Czech court has asked the United States for guarantees over the treatment of three suspected terrorist collaborators who are subject to US extradition proceedings. The lead judge at Prague’s Municipal court said that assurances had been sought that the three would not be tortured, subject to unhuman treatment, or subject to solitary confinement. The three were caught trying to sell arms for cocaine by undercover US agents purporting to be members of the Colombian FARC group. The final round of negotiations took place in Prague last April where the three were detained by police. They have been in Czech custody ever since. Two of the men come from the Ivory Coast with the third Lebanese with Ukrainian citizenship.
Police investigating the case of a young American who fell from Prague’s Hlavkov Bridge into the Vltava River and suffered serious injuries have asked potential witnesses to come forward. They are in particular looking for the man who left the American’s wallet and IDs but ran off before the police could question him. The incident happened on New Year’s Eve. The young man fell into the river and was apparently able to swim to shore but because the place was deserted he was left lying helpless in the freezing cold for ten hours before passers-by noticed him. Police say the fall may have been preceded by a fight. The American remains in a coma in hospital.
The organiser of a demonstration against President Miloš Zeman has repeated his assertion that it was not paid for by the U.S. Embassy in Prague. Speaking to iDnes.cz, Martin Přikryl accused Mr. Zeman of manipulation following his comment that a conspiracy theory linking the U.S. Embassy to the protest “could not be ruled out”, though there was no evidence to support it. Mr. Přikryl said the president had failed to rule out a proven lie and had by contrast overlooked evidence that it was untrue. The American Embassy’s “link” to the November 17 “red card” protest was asserted the next day by an obscure website.
The late Czech president, dissident and playwright Václav Havel was honoured by members of the US Congress on Wednesday. A bust of Mr Havel was unveiled at a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol in the presence of Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Havel’s widow, Dagmar. The ceremony concluded a series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, which toppled the Communist regime.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has told a deputy foreign minister, Petr Drulák, to respect the country’s foreign policy in the field of human rights. Mr. Drulák has described the policies advocated by Václav Havel, which put a relatively strong emphasis on human rights, as mistaken and harmful to Czech interests. Mr. Sobotka has endorsed Mr. Havel’s views on a four-day trip to the United States linked to events celebrating the late president’s legacy. In recent times the Czech Republic has made marked efforts to improve relations with China, which has been criticised for its human rights record.
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