The chairman of the lower house of parliament, Radek Vondráček (ANO),
announced on Wednesday he will pay a 10-day official visit to United States
during which he plans to stress the importance of transatlantic ties and
commemorate the centenary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.
Mr Vondráček, who will be in the US from July 16 to July 25, said he had been invited to visit the US House of Representatives by his American counterpart, Paul Ryan (Republican).
In March, Mr Ryan had visited the Czech Republic while on vacation, but nonetheless during his semi-official visit addressed the parliament, where he stressed the importance of bilateral ties and solidarity among NATO members.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) is due to meet his Polish counterpart
Mateusz Morawiecki (PiS) on Friday to discuss ways to boost bilateral trade
and cooperation, as well as wider European issues affecting the Visegrad
Group, which also includes Hungary and Slovakia.
The two leaders will meet in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary before heading to Bulgaria for a conference taking place within a summit between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC).
The “China 16+1 Summit”, now its seventh year, has raised alarm in Brussels over the intensifying level of engagement between the member countries and communist China, which has invested heavily in the CEE region.
French President Emanuel Macron met with the Czech and Slovak prime
ministers in Paris on Saturday, on the occasion of celebrations in France
marking the birth of Czechoslovakia 100 years ago.
On June 29 the government of France officially acknowledged the right of Czechs and Slovaks to independence, and the next day 6,000 Czechoslovak legionaries took an oath of allegiance to the new state in the presence of the French president.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš thanked France for its crucial role in assisting the birth of independent Czechoslovakia and said the seven decades of coexistence had helped Czechs and Slovaks to develop into the strong, sovereign, democratic states they were today.
After the meeting the French president and Czech and Slovak prime ministers signed framework agreements on strategic partnership outlining future cooperation in security, the fight against terrorism, research and development and student exchanges.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has hailed the agreement on migration reached after nine hours of gruelling talks at an EU summit in Brussels as a huge success for the Visegrad Group’s common policy. The newly-appointed head of government, who has vehemently fought the idea of mandatory quotas, said the focus had shifted with the accent now on voluntary cooperation and the need to resolve the migrant crisis outside of Europe.
The Social Democrats’ Miroslav Poche says if he does not become foreign
minister he could serve in another role at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Czech Television reported on Saturday. The MEP is his party’s choice for
that portfolio in a minority coalition taking shape with ANO. However, his
appointment is opposed by President Miloš Zeman and ANO Andrej Babiš.
Mr. Poche described a possible scenario under which Social Democrats chairman Jan Hamáček would temporarily take on foreign affairs as a second portfolio and he himself would serve in a different role at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “plan B”.
However, both he and Mr. Hamáček are still insisting that Mr. Poche head the ministry, he said.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, says he could
temporarily also serve as minister of foreign affairs in a coalition his
party is planning with ANO. ANO are opposed to the Social Democrats’
nominee for the foreign affairs portfolio, Miroslav Poche.
Mr. Hamáček, who is in line to serve as interior minister in the Communist-supported two-party minority government, made the comments after President Miloš Zeman – who is also opposed to his candidature – asked Mr. Poche to step aside during a meeting on Friday.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš says he would have no problem with Social Democrats’ chairman Hamáček holding two ministerial posts for a limited period.
Mr. Babiš has said that the prospective coalition could undergo a vote of confidence in the lower house on July 11.
The US decision to pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council
means that the Czech Republic is losing an important partner in protection
of human rights and freedoms, Irena Valentová of the Czech Foreign
Ministry’s press department told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday.
According to the ministry, the Czech Republic shares some of Washington’s concerns over the functioning of the council, but it wants to remain a member to take part in its reform.
The US on Wednesday withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council, calling it hypocritical and self-serving and accusing it of political bias against Israel.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, is due to discuss
cabinet positions with the ANO prime minister-designate Andrej Babiš on
Tuesday evening. The parties are planning to enter a minority coalition
propped up by the Communists. However, Mr. Babiš has rejected the Social
Democrats nominee for minister of foreign affairs, Miroslav Poche.
Mr. Babiš has not revealed his own party’s list of candidates for ministerial portfolios and Mr. Hamáček said he would be keen to hear those names from the ANO leader. The Social Democrats leader says he hopes to resolve the dispute over Mr. Poche within a week.
President Miloš Zeman and the Communists are also against the appointment of Mr. Poche as foreign policy chief.
Prime Minister-designate Andrej Babiš presented his proposed new cabinet line-up to the Czech president for approval on Sunday, two days after the centre-left Social Democrats agreed – following a party referendum – to join Mr Babiš’s centrist ANO party in a coalition government. But the political uncertainty is not over, with the foreign minister nomination proving controversial.
President Miloš Zeman may hold the key to resovling the situation
surrounding the Social Democrats’ nomination of Miroslav Poche for
foreign minister, according to top party members quoted by the news website
The Social Democrats insist Mr. Poche get the post, despite opposition from potential coalition partners ANO, the Communists, who would support such a government, and Mr. Zeman.
Social Democrats deputy chairman Roman Onderka said that party boss Jan Hamáček cannot replace Mr. Poche as his nomination has been approved by the leadership.
Mr. Poche is due to hold talks with President Zeman, who reportedly plans to tell him to step aside. Mr. Onderka said that meeting may shed light on a possible way forward, adding that it could lead to talks between the head of state and the leaders of ANO and the Social Democrats.