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  • Author: Alica Kizeková
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The year 2017 was the final year of the government of Bohuslav Sobotka (established in 2013 and made up of ČSSD [the Social Democrats], ANO 2011 and KDU-ČSL [the Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party]). While the political parties in this government had promised to provide stability and they achieved this goal throughout the majority of their term, from March 2017, political conflicts surrounding the leader of ANO 2011 and Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš had a major impact on the government’s stability. Parliamentarians requested an explanation of the financial activities of the leader of ANO 2011 and there were calls for his resignation. PM Sobotka offered to resign to facilitate the demise of the whole cabinet and thus remove Babiš from his post.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Czech Republic
  • Author: Jan Kovář, Zdeněk Sychra
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: In 2017, the Czech European policy faced a number of challenges related to the great events of previous years (the migration crisis, Brexit, security policy, Eurozone reform) as well as the ongoing reflection process of the EU. Above all, the Czech approach was a typical example of reactive behaviour, and characteristic of responding to external stimuli coming from EU. There were also partial topics about which proactive assertions were made by the Czech Republic. The polarisation between the individual actors of foreign policy was low, though with some exceptions pertaining to the President of the Republic. In contrast, as regards politicisation, the European agenda was an example of a highly politicised area, which was crucially reflected also in domestic policy. The coherence of the Czech European policy can be referred to as problematic, as the Czech Republic was not able to make a substantial move in its main conceptual priorities, but only in partial areas. Finally, the predominantly critical tone of the Czech discussion on the EU had contributed to the Czech Republic’s very low trust in the Union’s policy, posing a threat to the fulfilment of the key goals of the Czech foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Czech Republic, European Union
  • Author: Vít Dostál
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Since the developments in Central Europe were very dynamic in 2017, the importance of the Visegrad co-operation, Poland, Austria and Slovakia in the Czech foreign policy has grown. The general elections in Austria, the judicial reform in Poland and the subsequent triggering of Article 7 of the Treaty of the EU against Poland, the Polish and Hungarian EU Presidencies and various EU dossiers, such as the dossier on the reform of the EU’s asylum system, would all suggest that the Czech Republic should have paid more attention to the region. However, the Czech Republic chose rather a free-riding and adaptational approach toward it, and in some cases, it has shown disinterest in its policy vis-à-vis the region. There were fewer political contacts with and initiatives related to the other V4 states than in the previous years, and the Czech foreign policy was not able to address major dilemmas of the Central European policy. Interestingly, at the same time, the importance of the region was reflected in a higher politicisation and polarisation of the issues related to the Visegrad Group, Poland and Hungary.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, Reform, European Union, Asylum
  • Political Geography: Poland, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Central Europe, Slovakia
  • Author: Jana Urbanovská
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: In 2017 the Czech-German relations were marked by the anniversaries of the Czech-German Declaration (1997) and the Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Friendly Cooperation (1992). Their dynamics in that year were under the considerable influence of the parliamentary elections in both the Czech Republic and Germany. This led to a decline in the development of their bilateral relations at the top political level, both before the elections due to their focusses on their respective domestic political agendas, and after the elections, owing to the demanding post-election negotiations. Nevertheless, their sectoral, practically-oriented co-operation continued intensively at a lower level. It was substantial especially in the areas of defence policy, science and research, and transport infrastructure. In the field of economic co-operation there was the ongoing, exceptionally favourable trend of the growing Czech-German foreign trade. However, the dependency of the Czech economy on the German economy had increased, and the income gap between their respective citizens had not become narrower. In the context of European policy, there was an undesirable rift between the Czech and German standpoints in regard to a number of points on the Union agenda. As regards the issues of the past, there was a continuing trend of normalising the mutual relations and a subsiding of the politicisation of these issues.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Bilateral Relations, Elections
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Czech Republic
  • Author: Monika Brusenbauch Meislová, Eliska Tomalova
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Both France and the United Kingdom (the UK) occupy a stable position in the Czech Republic’s foreign relations. Both countries have had asymmetrical and pragmatic relationships with the Czech Republic in the last decade, which were mostly influenced by the multilateral context of European integration. The recent developments on the British political scene and the Brexit process have changed the general atmosphere of the Czech-British relations on the one hand and opened a new space for the changing role of France in the European Union on the other. However, at the end of 2017 it was still unclear how precisely these changes would influence the bilateral relations. Thus a major characteristic of the Czech relations with Great Britain and France in the year 2017 was a strong element of continuity in a changing context, as it was a year of mutual observations and expectations between the three states.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, France, Czech Republic
  • Author: Tomáš Dopita, Daniel Heler, Kristýna Tamchynová
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Similarly to the previous years, in 2017 most of the Czech foreign political actors kept to the strategic notion that they support the efforts of Serbia, other Western Balkan countries and Turkey to integrate with the European Union as a means of ensuring stability, the democratic rule of law and prosperity in Southeastern Europe.2 However, in regard to this matter, the Czech actors themselves were divided between those tending towards a rhetorically offensive foreign policy and those striving to co-operate in the institutional structures of the EU, NATO, and other international organisations. The Czech foreign policy towards the Balkans and Turkey also had to cope with problems stemming from the geopolitical rivalry of the EU (or the West) with Russia, instability in the Middle East, migration, the unfolding of the authoritative turn in Turkey, terrorism, the faltering of the EU integration and enlargement process, and the multiple sore points reminiscent of the Yugoslav wars. The South-East dimension, nonetheless, remained an essential aspect of the Czech foreign policy. Besides, this area has recently attracted rising volumes of Czech investments, and the mutual trade with it has been steadily growing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Migration, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Balkans, Czech Republic, Mediterranean
  • Author: Karel Svoboda
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: In 2017, the Czech foreign policy towards the Eastern Partnership countries continued in the trends of the preceding years. Nevertheless, both the Czech parliamentary elections and the pre-election campaigns for the 2018 presidential elections seriously limited the interest of Czech politicians in the problems of foreign policy. As in previous years, the Czech Republic conducted its foreign policy towards the Eastern Partnership countries through three basic channels: the EU, bilateral relations and the civil society sector. On the EU level, the Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels was the main event of the year regarding the EaP, with the Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka taking part in it. In the bilateral relations, Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip visited Prague, while unlike in the previous years, the Prime Minister did not pay a visit to any of the EaP countries (this was the case with both the original Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his successor Andrej Babiš). Moreover, Miloš Zeman also did not carry out any official visit to the EaP countries during the year. As a result, the main burden of the EaP policies was, as in the previous years, laid on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil Society, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Europe, Czech Republic
  • Author: Jan Hornát
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The year 2017 was mainly a transition year for Czech foreign policy towards the United States, as the Czech side was gradually getting acquainted with and monitoring the positions and perspectives of the new administration. President Trump’s often ambivalent rhetoric regarding transatlantic relations and various multilateral frameworks has brought increased uncertainty as to what role Washington intends to play in the world and how it plans to co-operate with its global partners. Due to personnel changes in key offices in the executive branch of the US government, higher-level bilateral security, foreign policy and economic dialogues between the Czech Republic and the US did not take place during the year, albeit with a positive outlook for their resumption in 2018. During 2017, a part of the bilateral agenda consisted of preparations for the commemoration of one hundred years of official ties between the two countries, which will be celebrated throughout 2018. The bilateral trade with the US increased but ended with a deficit for the Czech side. The two countries’ defence and security co-operation can also be rated as strengthened mainly due to the continuing activities of the Czech Republic in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, Czech Republic, United States of America
  • Author: Petr Kratochvil, Karel Svoboda
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Amid the ever-higher tensions between the West and Russia, the Czechs became more active on the political level in 2017, with the highlight being the official visit of President Zeman to Russia. However, several structural factors prevented this flurry of political activity from turning into tangible political or economic results. First, the ongoing sanction regime and Russia’s aggressive stance in the neighbourhood rendered any deeper economic or political co-operation difficult to achieve. Second, the focus on internal issues (the then upcoming presidential elections in both countries) made foreign policy a mere pawn in the domestic political games. Third, while President Zeman confirmed his role as one of the most vocal advocates of President Putin, the continuing polarisation of the public opinion as well as the re-grouping of Czech anti-Kremlin forces limited his influence on the day-to-day Czech policy vis-à-vis Russia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Politics, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Czech Republic
  • Author: Marek Čejka, Jan Daniel, Michaela Lubin
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Book
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: In 2017 the Czech foreign policy toward the Middle East and the Maghreb did not witness significant shifts and followed the wider goals established in the previous years. It continued to be oriented on the stabilisation of the states affected by the wars in Syria, Iraq and Libya, limiting the number of refugee arrivals to Europe, strengthening the business co-operations with promising regional partners and enhancing the co-operation and strategic partnership with Israel. Accordingly, economic diplomacy, security assistance and humanitarian relief remained the dominant modes of engagement with most of the countries in the region. Similarly to the previous years, the Czech policy mostly reactively followed the common EU positions, while being proactive regarding the issues concerning Israel and, to a lesser extent, also Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Libya. The Czech policy for the Middle East did not strongly enter the domestic public debate. The only exceptions were the conflicting positions on the issue of the Czech embassy’s relocation to Jerusalem and the role of the ambassador in Syria.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Migration, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Czech Republic, Maghreb