Czech President Václav Klaus, Prime Minister Jan Fischer and archbishop
of Prague, Dominik Duka, attended the funeral of the late Polish president
Lech Kaczynski on Sunday. They left the Czech capital early on Sunday by
train for the border town of Bohumín, where they continued by car to
Krakow. Flights were disrupted because of the cloud of volcanic ash. The
conservative Polish president and his wife, Maria, were buried on Sunday
afternoon in a crypt at the Wawel castle, the traditional resting place of
Polish heroes and royalty.
The presidential pair and 94 others were killed when their government plane crashed in western Russia just over a week ago. Many world leaders were forced to stay away from the funeral because flights were grounded. President Klaus said it was unforgivable that some European and EU leaders had not attended.
Authorities have confirmed that the Czech Republic will hold a day of national mourning in honour of the Polish President Lech Kaczynski and others killed in Saturday’s plane crash in Smolensk, Russia. In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that the president and government had agreed that it will be marked on the day of Mr Kaczynski’s funeral; a minute’s silence will be observed and flags on government buildings will be flown at half mast. The Polish president, his wife, and 94 others - part of a delegation en route to commemorate the victims of the Katyn massacre of 70 years ago – died when the presidential plane crashed on Saturday while trying to land. The Polish authorities have not yet revealed the date for Mr Kaczynski's funeral.
President Václav Klaus has said that he has been informed on who will be the next US ambassador to Prague; the president revealed the information on Friday, shortly after meeting with US President Barack Obama at Prague Castle. He did not reveal a name but did say that the person in question was a member of the US delegation that travelled to the Czech Republic for the US-Russia summit. The news website Euro.cz on Friday cited unnamed diplomatic sources as saying the next US ambassador to Prague will be 49-year-old Norman Eisen, an expert on ethics and a close aide to the US president. The site reported that Mr Eisen’s parents survived the Holocaustand that his mother was from the former Czechoslovakia. Unofficial sources, however, did not confirm Mr Eisen as the choice for the Czech news agency. The Czech Republic has been without a US ambassador for 15 months.
Prague will be in the world spotlight for the historic signature of a new nuclear arms control agreement between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. That centrepiece event takes places at noon on Thursday in Prague Castle’s magnificent Spanish Hall. But the Czech capital is playing host to the leaders over three days in total.
US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are set to sign a landmark nuclear arms control treaty in the Czech capital on Thursday. But some Czechs are concerned that Barack Obama’s effort to engage Russia could undermine the security of their own country. Radio Prague spoke to Daniel Anýž, a foreign policy commentator for a leading Czech daily, Hospodářské noviny, and asked him whether he thought these concerns were justified.
Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Radoslaw Sikorski is to visit the Czech Republic in mid-April, according to Czech government sources. Talks with his Czech counterpart Jan Kohout are expected to focus on bilateral relations, security concerns and energy security. Czech-Polish ties are traditionally good and the two countries cooperate closely within the Višegrad group of states, a loose economic alliance of Central and East European countries.
The Czech Foreign Ministry this week put to work an extensive cost-cutting plan, and closed down the embassy in Angola, the consulate in Montreal and the cultural Czech Centre in the German city of Dresden. Later this year, the ministry is also planning to close more embassies in several other countries. Earlier I spoke to deputy foreign minister Hynek Kmoníček and asked him which embassies will be affected by the ministry’s saving measures.
In two weeks’ time, news crews from around the world are set to descend on the Czech capital for the signing of an important deal between the United States and Russia on reducing their nuclear arsenals. The planned summit comes a year after America’s president, Barack Obama, outlined his policy on arms control in a major speech at Prague Castle.
The year 2009 was an eventful time for President Václav Klaus. He chaired several EU summits during the country’s presidency of the bloc, and he was the last man standing against the EU’s Lisbon treaty. On Monday, Václav Klaus launched a new book entitled Year Seven, reflecting his views of the events of that year.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer began a two-day tour to the US state of California on Tuesday. The first day includes a visit to the US high technology hub, Silicon Valley, where he is due to meet with investors and business leaders. The headquarters of the internet search company Google will be one of the stops. The Prime Minister is due later to speak at Stanford University and meet with former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who now lectures at the university. Wednesday’s programme in Los Angeles includes a visit to the Czech community in the city.