Czechs who do a lot of travelling around Europe had reason to celebrate in December when their country finally joined the Schengen border-free zone, a move that promised to bring Czech citizens freedom of movement and end the tedious passport controls at many European borders. But things have not turned out quite as expected. Although the checkpoints were removed, the traffic police in neighbouring Austria and Germany are reportedly targeting Czech drivers in the border areas, subjecting them to thorough inspections for no apparent reason. So,
The world media descended upon Moscow on Wednesday where Dmitry Medvedev was sworn in as Russia’s third president since the collapse of the Soviet Union. His predecessor, Vladimir Putin will become prime minister and is expected to retain a tight grip on the political scene. The change-of-guard comes at a time of heightened friction over Washington’s missile defense plans for Central Europe and has raised questions regarding Moscow’s future foreign policy. Daniela Lazarova spoke to Oldřich Bureš, an expert on Czech-Russian relations about the possible
Prague’s Foreign Ministry played host to a conference on missile defence on Monday, with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer among the guest speakers. The conference was organised to look at what lies ahead for plans to build a U.S. radar tracking facility on Czech soil after NATO gave the project a cautious endorsement at its recent summit in Bucharest.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has said that US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will not be visiting Prague next week at least in part because Czech officials would not have enough time to speak to her about important matters. It was announced on Monday that Mrs Rice, who was due to arrive in Prague on May 5 to sign an agreement paving the way for a US radar on Czech soil, would not have the time to visit. But on Tuesday, the Czech Foreign Ministry said that on that date it would be playing host to NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and so it would not have time for talks with Mrs Rice. The treaties which Mrs Rice was expected to sign next week have been shelved until June, Czech Prime Minsiter Mirek Topolánek said Monday.
Plans to build a radar base 70km southwest of Prague as part of the U.S. missile defence shield encountered a minor setback on Monday, as it emerged that U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice will not visit Prague on May 5th to sign a bilateral agreement on the base. The news came as activists from the environmental group Greenpeace occupied the patch of land where the base is to be built.
The upper house of the Czech parliament, the Senate, voted to send the so-called Lisbon Treaty to the Constitution Court on Thursday, a move that could delay Czech ratification of the EU reform treaty by several months. The motion was passed thanks to senators from the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, the main party in the coalition government. But why did they delay approving what is essentially the government’s own foreign policy?
Just under three years ago, Qatari prince Hamid Bin Abdul Sani al-Thani was found guilty of sexually abusing young girls in the Czech Republic. Despite protests from within the judiciary, he was extradited to Qatar, where all charges against him were eventually dropped. Three years on, the question of whether to try him again in absentia has once more been raised, amidst criticism of the justice ministry’s role in the affair.
Martin Palouš was one of the first signatories of the Charter 77 protest document. Since 1989 he has been a parliamentary deputy, an academic, and Czech ambassador to Washington. Now, however, Mr Palouš represents the Czech Republic at the United Nations in New York. When we spoke last week at his office on Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, we began with the subject of Charter 77 and his days as a dissident.
A Prague court has ruled in favour of the Foreign Ministry in a case involving a female employee over alleged discrimination. The decision comes after a lower-instance court awarded former diplomat Adriana Bašovská one million crowns compensation for unequal treatment at the ministry last year. In the case, she was stripped of authorisation in handling classified data by a superior. The ministry appealed the decision and the Prague municipal court found evidence that the steps taken were the same in the case of a male colleague. Mrs Bašovská worked at the Czech embassy in Libya; in 2002 she was recalled by the Foreign Ministry in Prague. Her superior claimed that she had breached security principles.
A report appearing in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza has been raising eyebrows across the Czech Republic. It suggests that US negotiators were initially prepared to place both the proposed radar and rocket bases on Czech soil. It also suggests that increasingly rocky US-Polish negotiations may lead the US government to again seek to turn to the Czech Republic for both. Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra has insisted that such negotiations were carried out under the former governments of Vladimír Špidla and Jiří Paroubek – not under the
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