Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other members of the government as well as the opposition have condemned Czech President Miloš Zeman’s rejection of EU sanctions against Russia. The head of state told the Council of Europe on Tuesday that, in his view, sanctions were not working and called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “irreversible”.
Russian politicians have welcomed comments made by Czech President Miloš
Zeman on Crimea at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
Czech Television reported. The Czech head of state said Ukraine should seek
financial compensation for the loss of Crimea and called for the lifting of
sanctions against Russia.
The chairman of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, said he welcomed Mr. Zeman’s recognition of the connection between Russia and Crimea as a fait accompli. Mr. Slutsky’s counterpart in the Russian upper house, Konstantin Kosachev, said Mr. Zeman said out loud what other European politicians were thinking.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed indignation at Mr. Zeman’s words, while Czech government members have said his comments were at odd with the country’s official foreign policy.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says statements made by President Miloš
Zeman at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe contradict
Czech foreign policy. Mr. Zeman questioned the effectiveness of sanctions
against Russia and said Ukraine should seek financial compensation from
Moscow for the annexation of Crimea, which he called a fait accompli.
Mr. Sobotka said, however, that the Czech Republic defended respect for international law and that the sanctions against Russia were linked to the fulfilling of the Minsk accords.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, also said that Mr. Zeman was going against the country’s foreign policy. Changing borders and breaching international agreements were not something that Prague could not respond to, he said.
Czech politicians have joined in the widespread condemnation of the police violence accompanying Catalonia's referendum on independence. Reacting to developments over the weekend they said the Spanish government’s policy in this matter was short-sighted, over the mark and would only strengthen the separatists.
Several Czech MEPs have condemned the violence used by Spanish police to
try and prevent a referendum in Catalonia over independence on Sunday.
MEPS Pavel Svoboda, Kateřina Konečná and Stanislav Polčák, representing different parties, said on public broadcaster Czech Television that police had overstepped the mark and the European Commission should condemn their action.
Deputy chairman of the European Parliament, Pavel Telička, said on his Twitter account that there was no excuse for police reverting to pre-1989 [former Soviet bloc] methods.
Czech foreign affairs minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said the issue was an internal Spanish one.
Spanish police tried to disrupt voting, often using violence against voters and those at polling stations. The Spanish government says the vote was unconstitutional and has refused to accept the outcome.
There’s little doubt that the European Union has gone through a lot of turbulence over the past few years and has scrambled to come up with new policies as a result. But the outgoing Czech prime minister believes it has boosted the country’s reputation in these difficult times and cast itself as a reliable and steady partner.
The outcome of Germany’s parliamentary elections have evoked mixed reactions in Prague; relief over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s election victory is mingled with concern by the surge of support for the AfD which will bring a far-right party into Germany's parliament for the first time in more than half a century.
National elections in Germany are taking place on Sunday. With some predicting the far-right could gain a foothold in the Bundestag for the first time in the history of post-war Germany, the results could have repercussions across Europe, including for the neighbouring Czech Republic. I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe for his take on the election’s potential impact: