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Czech report Czech report
by Euro Reporter
2015-04-06 12:21:47
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Czech president bans U.S ambassador from Prague Castle

President Milos Zeman has "closed the door" of Prague Castle to the U.S. ambassador following comments perceived as critical of the Czech's decision to attend a World War Two commemoration in Moscow, according to local media reports on Sunday. European Union leaders are boycotting the ceremony in May over Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict but Zeman -- who has frequently departed from the EU line -- has said he would attend.

czech_400_01"I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel," Zeman told news portal Parlamentni Listy. "I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels." A presidential spokesman told local media that Schapiro could still attend social events at Prague Castle, the official residence of the Czech president. Schapiro told Czech television earlier this week it would be "awkward" should Zeman attend the ceremony as the only statesmen from an EU country.

Zeman, a former prime minister, has frequently departed from the common EU line on Ukraine and criticized sanctions against Moscow. The government, which is responsible for foreign policy, however, has held the EU line fully. The Czech presidency is largely a ceremonial role but Zeman - who was the first president directly elected when he took office in 2013 - is outspoken on his views on both domestic and foreign policy.

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Over 100kg of cocaine found in supermarket banana shipment

More than 100 kilograms of cocaine has been found in a consignment of bananas delivered to a Lidl supermarket in Prague.

It represents a record find in the Czech Republic – its authorities have never seized a bigger amount of the drug.

The fruit is believed to have arrived from Columbia in a trafficking operation gone wrong.

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Czech diplomacy hiring former spies

The Czech state has started taking interest in what will be done by its veteran intelligence service employees, offering them posts in its diplomatic service, daily Mladá fronta Dnes (MfD) writes today. This is exemplified by the case of Miroslav Toman, former deputy head of the Office for Foreign Relations and Information (ÚZSI), Czech intelligence service, who will become Czech ambassador to Afghanistan in the summer, MfD writes. With a one-year delay, Toman will follow in the footsteps of his former superior, ÚZSI director Ivo Schwarz, who became ambassador to Israel last May, it adds, referring to two independent sources close to the Foreign Ministry. The appointment is yet to be approved by the government, MfD writes. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronová has declined to confirm the information. However, Toman's becoming a diplomat was indicated by Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) last August, MfD writes.

At first, Toman was seeking the post of Schwarz's successor. The diplomatic mission in Kabul usually only lasts two years due to the high security risk there. The post of ambassador to Afghanistan has been occupied by former ambassador to Georgia Miroslav Kosek since 2013. Toman also had two more offers. He could either become head of the Czech consulate in Los Angeles or get a senior position in the CEZ national company in Turkey or in the Balkans, but he has refused the proposals. He insisted on a more important post of ambassador. The Foreign Ministry complied with his request for good reasons, MfD writes.

Angering intelligence workers may cause large problems, it adds, citing the case of former ÚZSI head Karel Randák, it adds. He was deposed by the center-right coalition government of Mirek Topolánek (Civic Democratic Party, ODS) in 2006 under the pretext that the ÚZSI will be merged with the counter-intelligence, but this has never happened, MfD writes. Randák was later called the man who leaked to the media the compromising photos and videos featuring Topolánek on a holiday in Tuscany along with some Czech lobbyists and influential businessmen, it adds.

 


       
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