The Czech Republic remains reserved towards recognizing Kosovo as an independent country. After the former Serbian province proclaimed independence on Sunday, Czech diplomats said they would wait for a common EU strategy on the issue. But a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday failed to reach any joint policy towards Kosovo, and the Czech Foreign Ministry has set down its own conditions for the recognition of Kosovo.
Prague will wait for the European Union to agree a common standpoint on Kosovo’s declaration of independence and then proceed in accord with the EU’s position, a Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said. However, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said it would be very difficult for the bloc to agree on a joint stance, given that some states were opposed to Sunday’s historic decision by Kosovo’s parliament; Mr Vondra said it was more likely that individual EU states would adopt their own positions, with some of its biggest members likely to recognise Kosovo’s independence in the very near future.
The Czech Republic’s efforts to win visa-free travel to the United States for its citizens do not contravene the country’s obligations towards the European Union, Alexandr Vondra said on Sunday. Mr Vondra said Washington regarded the EU as an association of independent states and discussed the abolition of visa requirements with them individually. The Social Democrats’ shadow foreign minister Lubomír Zaoralek has said Prague’s individual approach destroyed EU unity; he also described the Czech Republic as servile towards the US.
Czech authorities have detained two American citizens who overstayed the 90-day period for which no visas are required. The Americans arrived in Prague in October last year and failed to leave the country in time. After being detained by the Czech Foreigners Police in the town of Prostějov, South Moravia, with pending deportation charges, they applied for asylum in the Czech Republic.
Twenty years after the fall of communism Czechs are on the verge of being included on a list of countries in the US visa-waiver programme. It allows tourists and businesspeople from abroad to travel visa-free to the US. Although the move was expected, a US senior official in Prague on Wednesday, confirmed it could come sooner: as early as this autumn. A bilateral agreement still needs to be signed, as well as a new electronic system implemented, before the change takes place, but essentially there is nothing that should now prevent the move from
An agreement between the Czech Republic and the United States on the deployment of a tracking radar on Czech territory, part of an American anti-missile defence system, could soon be concluded. A Pentagon spokesperson said on Tuesday that a final deal could be struck within weeks. Czech officials have been more careful to set a date: the Foreign Ministry expects negotiations with the US to be finalized before a NATO summit in Bucharest in early April.
Both sides of the missile defence debate wheeled out their big guns in Prague this week, and for the “anti” camp the secret weapon is Philip Coyle, one of America’s leading experts on missile defence technology. Mr Coyle, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and was in charge of all weapons testing at the Pentagon from 1994 to 2001, has worked on missiles and how to stop them for the last 40 years. Today he’s a senior adviser to the Washington-based Center for Defence Information, and is a leading opponent
Talks between Prague and Washington on the possible stationing of a US radar base on Czech territory acquired a new dimension on Wednesday. The director of the US Missile Defense Agency Henry Obering arrived in Prague flanked by a group of American defense industry business leaders to discuss the possible commercial and scientific benefits for Czech firms if the country agreed to participate in the US missile defense project.
It’s not the first place you might imagine a record-launch, but on Thursday evening, the Czech Embassy in London played host to the band British Sea Power - and provided a venue for the launch of their new single, Waving Flags. Before the concert on Thursday, I called the band’s lead singer, Scott Wilkinson, to ask about his choice of venue:
Poland’s new prime minister Donald Tusk arrived in Prague on Thursday for talks with his Czech counterpart Mirek Topolanek, and top of the agenda was the planned U.S. missile defence shield. Washington wants to build a launching pad for ten interceptor missiles in Poland, to work in tandem with an early warning radar system across the border in the Czech Republic. But Mr Tusk is not as fervently pro-American as his predecessor Jaroslaw Kacynski, and Prague and Warsaw are beginning to look slightly out of step on missile defence.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’