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Zeman’s new aide to emphasise relations with neighbours, EU

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Prague, April 2 (CTK) – Rudolf Jindrak, new head of the Czech Presidential Office’s foreign section, will put emphasis on Prague’s relations with neighbours and the EU, he has told CTK, adding that he expects the development in this area to be intensive this year due to Brexit and migration.
In addition, the development will be influenced by the autumn elections in Germany, Jindrak said.
He said the contacts he has as a former long-serving Czech ambassador to Germany may help him cope with the situation.
During his diplomatic career he has mainly focused on Central Europe, which is also why he wants to concentrate on this region in his capacity as the chief foreign political aide of President Milos Zeman, he said.
Jindrak said he and Zeman “have agreed that I should focus on [Prague’s] cooperation with neighbours, on European cooperation.”
He said he has helped prepare the visit of Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen to Prague later this spring, which the Presidential Office announced earlier this week.
The development in Europe in the next months will be demanding from the diplomacy’s point of view, Jindrak continued.
“We will face difficult points on EU agenda – Brexit, defence policy, migration,” he said.
If the Social Democrat (SPD) candidate Martin Schulz won the autumn general election in Germany, he would probably start pushing for a faster solving of European issues, Jindrak said.
The Czech general election will be held one month after the German polls, which is why it will be more difficult for Prague to react to the developments. In this connection, the Presidential Office’s foreign section might play a bigger role and coordinate the negotiations with Germany and other European partners, Jindrak said.
If so, he could use the contacts he gained in his capacity as former Czech ambassador to Berlin. They include Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the new German president and former foreign minister (2005-January 2017).
“I dare say I and President Steinmeier have been friends since his first term as foreign minister,” Jindrak said.
He said he wants to use his personal contacts also in relation to the other countries where he stayed as a diplomat.
Jindrak was the ambassador to Hungary (1998-2001), Austria (2004-2006) and Germany (2006-2014).
He was appointed the Presidential Office’s foreign department head in mid-March, replacing Hynek Kmonicek, who became ambassador to the USA.
Kmonicek is to keep advising Zeman on foreign political issues, mainly those related to the Middle East and the USA, Jindrak said.
“Of course, we will mutually coordinate it,” he said, referring to his and Kmonicek’s assistance to Zeman.

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