Czech and Polish cabinet members held a joint session in Warsaw on Friday. The meeting focused on defense and security issues, the migrant crisis, bilateral infrastructure projects and the agenda of a NATO summit due to be held in Warsaw in July. The eight-member Czech ministerial team is headed by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. The tradition of holding joint cabinet sessions on matters of common interest once a year was established in 2011 and they alternately take place in Prague and Warsaw.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said he would like the countries of the Visegrad group states to negotiate a common stand to the EC’s asylum proposals unveiled this week. Mr. Sobotka said he would propose rejecting both a permanent system of redistribution of migrants and a more centralized asylum process within EU institutions which would detract powers from national governments. The Czech prime minister discussed the matter with his Polish counterpart Beata Szydlova during Friday’s joint cabinet session in Warsaw and said she fully backed this position. He is to bring up the issue at a meeting with the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico next week. As the country currently presiding over the Visegrad group the Czech Republic will also initiate consultations with Hungary on the matter.
The Visegrad Four regional grouping, currently headed by the Czech Republic, can help countries in the Western Balkans in the EU accession talks, Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Thursday. He was speaking at a meeting between the Visegrad Four, composed of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, and Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. Zaorálek proposed a forum be created for regular meetings between the two groupings.
A two-day summit chaired by European Council President Donald Tusk began in Brussels on Thursday, with European leaders embarking on a fresh round of negotiations with Turkey on a stalled plan designed to tackle the ongoing migrant crisis. In its recommendations to the Czech cabinet issued on the eve of the summit, the Senate called for a rejection of the current EU-Turkey agreement until a clear signal was sent to migrants that the days of an “open-door policy” were over.
Czech President Miloš Zeman and Polish President Andrzej Duda presented each other with their countries’ highest state distinctions on Tuesday at Prague Castle for their contribution to the development of Czech-Polish relations. Mr Zeman presented his counterpart with the Order of the White Lion first class, and received the Polish Order of the White Eagle. Mr Duda arrived in Prague on Monday for a two-day official visit. Among the topics he discussed with President Zeman were cooperation between the countries of the Visegrad Four, transport, and the migration crisis. Mr Duda is also scheduled to meet the country’s Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and lay a wreath at the grave of former Czech president Václav Havel.
Polish President Andrzej Duda arrived in Prague on Monday for an official two-day visit, during which he will meet with his Czech counterpart Miloš Zeman, the country’s Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and the heads of both houses of Parliament. Monday evening will see a special reception at the Polish Embassy in Prague; the official segment of the president’s visit begins at Prague Castle on Tuesday morning. Topics to be discussed by the heads of state include cooperation between the countries of the Visegrad Four, and the migration crisis, President Zeman's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček confirmed.
Polish President Andrzej Duda will pay a one-day state visit to the Czech Republic next week, his first since taking office. President Duda is to arrive on Monday afternoon and will meet for talks on Tuesday with President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. The talks are expected to focus on bilateral cooperation, cooperation within the Visegrad group and the migrant crisis.
The outcome of Slovakia’s general elections over the weekend, which left the established parties badly weakened and opened the door to several newcomers including a far-right party, has evoked concern in the Czech Republic. Politicians in Prague point out that the fragmented post-election scene will make it hard, if not impossible, to form a stable government.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka hailed as positive the wording of an EU communique indicating the EU would declare the Balkan route “now closed” for migrants, suggesting the move vindicated the Visegrad 4 which had pushed strongly for the step as a so-called plan B. Germany has been against. The EU is pressing Turkey to take back migrants; the Czech Republic, meanwhile, is also in favour of increased measures against human smuggling in the Aegean. On Monday, Mr Sobotka indicated that greater cooperation on the part of Turkey was needed also within NATO; he expressed the hope that Turkey’s prime minister would send a positive signal and that NATO naval operations would go smoothly.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has congratulated the winner of parliamentary elections in Slovakia, outgoing premier Robert Fico. Sobotka added though that forming a new government would not be easy for what he described as “our closest friends.” Fico’s SMER party won the elections with around 29 percent of the vote but has lost its overall majority in parliament and has been reduced to around a third of the 150 seats. Eight parties claimed a place in parliament, including the far right.
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