The man most responsible for Brexit – Nigel Farage – has been in Prague to make his contribution to the campaign for upcoming Czech elections. And the former head of the UKIP party had a series of messages for politicians in general, Czechs in particular, and his own take on the continuing Brexit negotiations.
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:
The German president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, made his first official to
Prague on Tuesday. After being welcomed at Prague Castle with full military
honours by Miloš Zeman, Mr. Steinmeier and his Czech counterpart discussed
a range of issues, including refugees.
Mr. Zeman reiterated his opposition to the Czech Republic being forced to take in migrants by the European Union, while Mr. Steinmeier said it was important that the European Court’s ruling on the matter be respected.
In what was a brief meeting, the two heads of state also spoke about business cooperation between their two states, transport infrastructure and the UK’s planned exit from the European Union
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has rejected criticism from Brussels that
the Czech Republic had failed to meet its EU obligations by refusing to
take in the migrants allotted to it under the mandatory quota
In a letter to the EU commissioner for migration, minister Chovanec said the Czech Republic was helping in other ways and was one of the most active countries in doing so.
He noted that since 2015 the Czech Republic had sent 68 experts to the so called hotspots to help with the registration of refugees, over 5,000 Czech police officers have helped protect the borders of Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and other states and the Czech Republic has sent 640 million crowns in aid to Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon to help deal with the migrant crisis.
The European Court of Justice has dismissed Slovakia and Hungary’s legal challenge to the system of mandatory migrant quotas, devised by the EC as a means of dealing with the migrant crisis. The Czech Republic, which is also one of the countries rejecting the forced distribution of migrants, says the ruling will make no difference to its stand.
President Miloš Zeman says it would be better for the Czech Republic not
to receive subsidies from the European Union than to be forced by the EU to
accept refugees, the website Parlamentní listy reported on Wednesday.
Speaking to locals in the town of Český Těšín in the east of the country, Mr. Zeman said that following the European Court’s rejection of a complaint against migrant quotas from Slovakia and Hungary the Czech Republic would be forced to accept several thousand Muslim migrants under threat of a reduction in subsidies.
The president said, however, that Czechs should not give in to threats. If it comes to the worst, it is always better to surrender EU grants than allow in migrants, he said.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have agreed to initiate a summit in
Bratislava in October to discuss double standards by international food
producers selling foodstuffs of varying quality under the same brand name
across different EU countries. They took the decision at a joint government
meeting in Lednice on Monday.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said that both countries had agreed to take a tough stance on the issue, calling it a serious political problem. Inferior quality of some products in the Czech Republic and other former eastern bloc countries is true not only of some international food brands but also in building materials and some pharmaceutical products.
Czech ambassadors from around the world congregated in Prague this week for their annual round of consultations. Among the foreign policy issues on their agenda were security, economic diplomacy, EU-related matters and regional cooperation. During a small break in their busy agenda, I met with the Czech Ambassador to France Petr Drulák to talk about Franco-Czech relations, the country’s position in the EU and the role of the Visegrad alliance. I began by asking for his take on Prime Minister Sobotka’s recent proposal that the Czech Republic should