Tuesday, 15 January 2019

PM rejects Zeman's plan to withdraw ambassador from Oslo

ČTK |
18 January 2016

Prague, Jan 17 (CTK) - President Milos Zeman told Blesk.cz yesterday that the Czech government should withdraw the ambassador from Oslo for consultations over children taken away from their Czech mothers in Norway, but PM Bohuslav Sobotka said in reaction that such a step would not be helpful.
Zeman said he would not invite the Norwegian ambassador in Prague to the traditional meeting of ambassadors in October, he told the server of the Blesk tabloid daily.
Last year, Zeman did not invite Norway's ambassador Siri Ellen Sletner to the ceremonial event held on the Czech national holiday on October 28, for the same reason.
Zeman said the Czech government is not resolute enough in the negotiations with the Norwegian Child Welfare Service (Barnevernet).
Sobotka dismissed the criticism. He said the Czech government has made progress in the talks with Norway in the last two years.
Sobotka said the government needs to closely follow the cases of children taken away from Czech mothers, consider the situation well and take pragmatic steps.
"We first of all need to talk to the Norwegians. If we made such empty gestures and stopped communicating, we would only worsen the position of our citizens in Norway," he said.
"These affairs are very intimate and sensitive and we will proceed in such a way to help the Czech woman living in Norway," Sobotka said, referring to the case of Eva Michalakova, whose two sons were taken away from her in Norway in 2011 over suspected child abuse. The suspicion has never been confirmed, yet the two boys remain in Norwegian foster families.
In the last few weeks, another case of a Czech mother and Norwegian father fighting for their baby girl whom the Barnevernet wants to place into foster care.
Sobotka said progress was made in late 2015 as Norway will check some cases and issue new principles according to which the authorities should proceed, including improved communication with embassies of the countries from which the children come and the possible handing of the children to institutions of the other country.
This was a reaction to criticism from some foreign countries, he said.
Zeman said the Barnevernet practices were similar to gangster practices of kidnapping children.
On Saturday, protests against Barnevernet's practices were organised in Prague and other European cities.

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