The Czech Republic is interested in having normal relations with Russia, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told CTK on Wednesday.
“We are interested in normal relations with Russia,” he stressed. He expressed hope that the issues arising in the relations between both states would be regulated on the outcomes of mutual talks. He added that the Czech Republic approaches the organization of such talks “very responsibly.”
Babis expressed hope that the Russian-Czech talks stipulated under the 1993 Friendship and Cooperation Treaty would lead to the meeting between Russian and Czech leaders. “The fact that the Czech-Russian relations are not ideal is not surprising neither to us nor to Russians. This is why we have agreed to begin Czech-Russian consultations,” the PM noted.
During the talks, the parties will assess the state of Russian-Czech relations and regulate the existing disputes. The Czech government is interested in developing cooperation between both states, Babis added.
The Czech PM’s words came as a follow-up to the earlier statement made by Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that so far, no high-or top-level talks are planned between Russia and the Czech Republic.
When asked about the state of Russian-Czech relations due to recent events, namely the arrest of Ivan Safronov, advisor to the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, for alleged handover of sensitive information to the Czech special services, Peskov mentioned another incident: the demolition of the monument to Soviet marshal Ivan Konev in Prague.
“Recently, our relations with the Czech Republic have been marred by certain events and certain unfriendly steps taken by the municipal and Czech government,” Peskov noted. “This has had a negative effect on the general state of our bilateral relations, however, Russia calls for good relations with all countries, including the Czech Republic,” the Kremlin spokesman said.
Three weeks ago, a Russian intelligence operative flew to Prague.
He was driven directly from Prague airport by a Russian diplomatic car to the Russian Embassy in Prague, carrying a suitcase with „ricin“ poison, according to Czech intelligence sources.
The news is reported by Czech newspaper Respekt.
The politicians under protection are the Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib and the Prague 6 Mayo Ondřej Kolář. Both of them have been confronting the Kremlin authorities in recent months.
The Mayor of Prague Hřib approved the renaming of a square where the Russian Embassy is located after slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.
The council voted on the measure on February 24, changing Pod Kastany Square to Boris Nemtsov Square. The name officially changes on February 27 — the fifth anniversary of Nemtsov’s killing.
On April 22, the Mayor’s spokesperson Martina Vacková informed the Czech media that Hřib was put under police protection.
“The reasons and specific protection methods cannot be commented, following the decision of the police. For security reasons, the Mayor is currently unable to use public transport,” said Vacková.
A few weeks later, Prague’s District 6 council removed the statue of Ivan Stepanovic Konev, a World War II commander, whose statue was erected in 1980.
Czech President Miloš Zeman slammed the statute’s removal, accusing Kolar’s council of abusing the current coronavirus crisis, according to a presidential spokesperson.
A few days later, the Public Council at the Russian Ministry of Defense proposed renaming the Prazhskaya metro station in Moscow to Marshal Konev station.
The local council’s removal decision prompted an expression of indignation from the Russian Foreign Ministry, which on Friday spoke of an “unfriendly” act of “vandalism by unhinged municipal representatives.”