The recent conflict in Georgia came at an unfortunate time for Russia - the fortieth anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Indeed, such comparisons have been banded about both by politicians and NGOs critical of Russia’s actions against Georgia. But it is in the Czech Republic that such metaphors have been heard the loudest in recent days. George Archemasheili is a senior counselor to the Georgian Ambassador in Prague. We asked him how he viewed the Czech reaction to the events taking place in Georgia:
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is set to meet with his Kosovar counterpart Skender Hyseni next Friday. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the announcement to journalists, but would not disclose any details of the visit. Mr Skender Hyseni is also scheduled to meet other members of the cabinet as well as representatives of the lower house and the senate. It is the first official visit by a politician of the independent Republic of Kosovo to the Czech Republic. The Kosovar foreign minister was invited to Prague by Mr Schwarzenberg. The Czech Republic recognized Kosovo’s independence in May and one month ago opened an embassy in the capital Pristina.
"This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten its neighbours, occupy a capital, overthrow a government, and get away with it. Things have changed," US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said ahead of her trip to Georgia. She is not the only politician to have drawn that comparison. In an exclusive interview for Czech Radio on Thursday President Klaus publicly rejected it, saying that both sides were equally to blame in the conflict over South Ossetia.
The fighting over the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, and the fragile ceasefire which Georgians claim is repeatedly violated by Russian troops, has raised fears of a prolonged conflict between Moscow and the pro-Western, ex-Soviet state. And, on a broader scale, it has fuelled speculation about how Russia’s military offensive into South Ossetia could affect international relations, the balance of power in Europe and plans to expand NATO and the EU. Veronika Kuchynova Smigolova is head of the Security Policy Department at the Czech
The conflict between Russia and Georgia continued on Monday, as both sides accused each other of launching new military attacks and western diplomats scrambled to negotiate a ceasefire. All eyes were meant to be on Beijing and the Olympic Games this August, but it’s the Caucuses that have grabbed the world’s attention, and the Czech Republic is no exception.
The eyes of the world are on Beijing where athletes have been arriving for the 2008 Olympic games due to begin this coming Friday. And as the opening ceremony nears human rights activists around the world are stepping up the pressure on the Chinese regime, demanding greater openness and the release of all prisoners of conscience.
A top NATO general has criticized allied nations for not keeping their promises to support the Afghan army. According to the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, this is not only hampering efforts to defeat the insurgent militants in the country but will also lead to a later withdrawal of NATO forces. But the Czech Army says it is following the agreed timetable and sending more and better equipped troops to Afghanistan.
In early July, three days after the Czech Republic and the Bush Administration signed a controversial agreement on a future anti-ballistic missile radar base, Russia drastically reduced the supply of oil flowing into the country. The move prompted fears that the Czech Republic had become the latest post-communist country to face what some view as extortion from its former big brother – one strongly opposed to the placement of the US radar base on Czech soil. The crisis soon passed, with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordering a full restoration
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has ruffled Chinese feathers, having been snapped wearing a Tibetan flag badge. Mr Topolánek wore the pin at a news conference two weeks ago, when he announced that he would be attending this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, but not the opening ceremony. The Chinese authorities have lodged a complaint about the gesture, and summoned the Czech ambassador to Beijing for talks.
The future of the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty was the main issue on the agenda when Czech President Václav Klaus played host to his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski on Thursday. The media speculation was that the Polish president was on a mission to persuade the euro-sceptic Mr Klaus to tone down his marked opposition to Lisbon. If that was the case, it was mission unaccomplished.
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