Czech leaders endorse ‘first step’ in embassy move to Jerusalem

The Czech move would follow the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Czech leaders endorse ‘first step’ in embassy move to Jerusalem

PRAGUE: Czech leaders on Wednesday endorsed a “first step” toward moving the country’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, following a similar move by the US administration earlier this year.
In a joint statement, the Czech president, prime minister, parliament speaker, and foreign and defense ministers said the opening of a “Czech House” in Jerusalem in November would be “the first step in the plan to move the Czech embassy to Jerusalem.”
Jiri Ovcacek, spokesman for pro-Israeli President Milos Zeman, told AFP that the Czech House would host government institutions including the foreign ministry’s Czech Center, the trade agency CzechTrade and tourism agency CzechTourism.
“The Czech House in Jerusalem will be ceremonially opened by Mr.president during his visit to Israel in November,” he said.
Zeman, a 73-year-old veteran leftwinger with anti-Muslim views, pushed for the embassy move even before US President Donald Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem on May 14.
Trump’s decision infuriated Palestinians and intensified protests on the Gaza border, where several dozen people were killed in clashes with Israeli forces that day.
Trump’s move also ruptured decades of international consensus that Jerusalem’s status should be settled as part of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.
In May, the Czech Republic reopened an honorary consulate in Jerusalem following its closure in 2016 owing to the death of the honorary consul.
The Czech Embassy has been in Tel Aviv since 1949 except for when diplomatic relations with the former communist regime in Prague were interrupted between 1967 and 1990.
 


Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

Updated 20 February 2019
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Hungary hits Soros, Juncker in new media campaign

  • The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians
  • EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news"

BUDAPEST: Hungary launched a new anti-immigration media campaign on Tuesday in which it accused George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, but which Brussels immediately dismissed as "fake news".
According to the Hungarian government's Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers' money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: "You too have a right to know what Brussels is preparing".
"They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states' rights to border defence; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa," it continues.
The campaign provoked a furious reaction from prominent EU politicians, including from Joseph Daul, president of the European People's Party grouping which includes both Juncker and right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.
In a series of tweets, Daul condemned the campaign, calling its claims "deceitful, misleading and... not based on facts".
Daul denounced Hungary's attacks on Juncker and defended him as a "true Christian Democrat and a real European leader".
He went on to remind Hungary that "decisions in Brussels, including on migration, are taken collectively by EU governments" and the European Parliament, both of which include Hungarian representatives.
The presence of Fidesz within the EPP has long been a source of controversy but there have been no official moves by any of the other centre-right parties in the grouping to expel it.
Orban's government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including "Let's Stop Brussels" and "Don't let Soros have the last laugh."
In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old philanthropist and investor as a "public enemy" for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.
At the same time, Orban's government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.
In recent months, pro-Orban media have also attacked Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini — the author of a critical report about Hungary that formed the basis of EU legal action against Budapest -- and Juncker's deputy Frans Timmermans.
"Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration," Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesman, told reporters in Budapest on Tuesday.
"Hungarians need to know about this, that's why the latest information campaign has been launched," he said, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.
Kovacs said plans in "drawers in Brussels" included hikes in financial funding of NGOs and the creation of a special migration fund.
EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as "fake news".
"The Hungary government campaign beggars belief," he told a briefing in Brussels.
"It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has. There is no conspiracy. Hungarians deserve facts, not fiction," he said.