The Social Democrats, the junior party in the ruling coalition, have moved to resolve a months-long dispute with President Zeman over who should hold the foreign ministry portfolio. Party leader Jan Hamáček on Tuesday revealed the name of the party’s new nominee for the post – the present deputy foreign minister, Tomáš Petříček.
The Social Democrats are to nominate Tomáš Petříček for the post of
foreign minister, Czech Television reported. The junior party in the
coalition government had previously put forward Miroslav Poche for the
position but President Miloš Zeman refused to appoint him.
The head of the Social Democrats, Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček, is currently serving as the country’s diplomatic chief in a caretaker capacity. Mr. Petříček is at present deputy minister of foreign affairs.
Czech President Milos Zeman is to pay an official three-day visit to
Germany next week. Mr. Zeman will arrive in Berlin on Wednesday afternoon
but his talks with the country’s leaders are scheduled for Friday.
He will be received with military honours by his German counterpart President Frank Walter Steinmeier on Friday morning and then meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday afternoon. The talks are expected to focus on a wide range of issues including bilateral cooperation, EU reform, the migrant crisis or relations with Russia.
The president will also meet with representatives of German companies doing business in the Czech Republic.
Indian President, Ram Nath Kovind, is meeting with both the Czech President and Prime Minister this Thursday. Representatives of over 50 Indian enterprises are arriving alongside Kovind to take part in a specially organised forum with their Czech counterparts, focused on deepening trade and business ties. Collaboration in research and development is also to be discussed.
The distribution of refugees remains to be the only problematic issue in
the otherwise excellent Czech-German relations, German chancellor Angela
Merkel said on Wednesday after meeting with Czech Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš in Berlin. Several dozen people gathered outside the German
Chancellery in the German capital to protest against Mr. Babiš.
The ANO party leader, who arrived in Berlin for his first official visit of Germany, is also set scheduled to meet with Bundestag president Wolfgang Schäuble. Earlier on Wednesday, he held talks with representatives of several local think tanks and laid a wreath at the Berlin Wall Memorial.
The Social Democrats’ nominee for foreign minister, Miroslav Poche, has
been a very negative force at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš. Mr. Babiš said on a TV discussion show on Sunday
that Mr. Poche, who is currently a political secretary at the ministry,
would never head the government department.
President Miloš Zeman refused to appoint Mr. Poche and Social Democrats chairman, Minister of the Interior Jan Hamáček, is currently also serving as caretaker foreign minister. The party say they will return to the matter after Senate and municipal elections next month.
Mr. Poche described the prime minister’s words on Sunday as an attack. He said if Mr. Babiš was cooperating with the likes of Hungary’s Viktor Orban he would be hard pressed to find a similarly minded foreign minister within the Social Democrats.
The broad Social Democratic Party leadership is meeting to debate the
problem regarding the party’s unsuccessful nominee for foreign minister.
Party leaders have proposed shelving the issue until October 15th, ie.
until after the Senate and local elections.
Miroslav Poche, whom the party nominated for the post, was rejected both by President Miloš Zeman and later by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. President Zeman refused to appoint him to office and the post was temporarily filled by party leader Jan Hamáček, who is also serving as minister of the interior.
When the Czech Republic re-opened its embassy in Zambia last year after a twenty-five-year break, Radek Rubeš handed over his credentials to President Edgar Lungu and set about re-establishing the Czech presence in Lusaka. When I met with him in Prague this week, I asked about the possibilities opening up and how hard it is to build on the Czechoslovak trademark that still rings a bell in Zambia.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on September 5. The talks are expected to focus primarily on migration, the EU budget, Brexit and European elections. A number of bilateral issues are also on the agenda, such as road construction, cooperation in research and development and the Czech-German Fund of the Future. The Czech prime minister this week held talks in Italy and Malta to try to convince European leaders to change their approach to the migrant crisis.
Miroslav Poche remains the Social Democrats’ only candidate for foreign
minister, the party’s leader, Jan Hamáček, told journalists on Monday.
Mr. Hamáček, who is minister of the interior, has also been acting
minister of foreign affairs since President Miloš Zeman rejected Mr.
Poche’s nomination when he appointed a coalition government of ANO and
the Social Democrats.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO recently said he expected the Social Democrats to put forward a different name for the post. He said the matter needed to be resolved soon as the Czech Republic would be marking the centenary of Czechoslovakia at the UN General Assembly in September.