Czech president and government fine-tune foreign policy priorities

Photo: CTK

Czech President Miloš Zeman met with government and parliament representatives on Tuesday to streamline their stand on foreign policy. The crisis in Ukraine and international terrorism were among the main issues on the agenda of the meeting at Prague Castle. RF has more:

Defence Minister Martin Stropnický,  Senate chairman Milan Štěch,  President Miloš Zeman,  Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka,  Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamáček,  Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: CTK
Foreign policy has been the cause of several disagreements between the government and the president in the recent past. Mr Zeman has failed to take the same line with the government on a number of issues, such as the sanctions against Russia or the human rights situation in China. To ensure that this will not happen again, the president and the prime minister last year agreed to hold regular meetings in order to streamline the country’s foreign policy.

On Tuesday, President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, as well as the foreign and interior ministers and heads of Parliament spent more than two hours debating foreign policy behind closed door. Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said they all agreed that finding a unified voice was absolutely essential:

“It is important that we can react to situations that can arise in the future and that we are able to deal competently with these situations. It is really a serious challenge for the Czech Republic to speak in a simple and clear voice.”

The main issue on the agenda of the first of the three annual meetings was the Ukrainian crisis. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told waiting journalists that the only solution to the situation in Eastern Ukraine was political:

“We have also agreed that it wouldn’t be appropriate to supply weapons to Ukraine. I believe that respecting the Minsk protocol is one of the last chances to solve the conflict in Ukraine rationally, without further casualties and violence. In the coming weeks, the Czech Republic is definitely going to support the fulfilment of the Minsk deal.”

The participants of Tuesday’s meeting have also discussed the fight against international terrorism and the potential threat of ISIS radicals. They agreed that the situation required good international cooperation and that the Czech Republic needed to play an active role in the EU, NATO and UN involvement on the issue.

Photo: CTK
Whether the Czech president will be more willing to respect the government’s foreign policy in the future will be seen at the upcoming meeting of the Eastern Partnership in Riga in May and at the UN General Assembly in September, which he is scheduled to attend. The Eastern Partnership focuses on the EU relations with former states of the Soviet Union. Foreign Minister Zaorálek said the president has already agreed to meet ahead of both events to streamline the Czech Republic’s position.

The next meeting of the president and the government representatives, this time focusing on foreign diplomacy, is set to take place at Prague Castle in three months’ time.