Posts Tagged ‘Milos Zeman’

Huawei Warnings May Bring Chinese Retaliation, Czech Leader Says

January 11, 2019
Pro-Chinese Czech President says report puts economy at risk
Western governments debate whether company is security threat
Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

China is preparing a reprisal against the Czech Republic after authorities there issued warnings about Huawei Technologies Co. and risks it poses to the country’s security, President Milos Zeman said.

Czech President Milos Zeman arrives for a summit in Brussels on 25 May, 2017
President Milos Zeman

Zeman, who has named Chinese government-linked officials as advisers and tried to promote his country as a potential investment gateway to Europe for Beijing, was responding to a report from the National Cyber and Information Security Agency issued last month. The report, which advised against using Huawei and ZTE Corp. software and hardware, would undermine the Czech economy, he said.

Signage is displayed atop a ZTE Corp. building in Beijing.

Photographer: Gilles Sabrie/Bloomberg

“Some members” of the Czech government have information that China will take “retaliatory steps,” Zeman said late Thursday in an interview on Barrandov TV. He cited investments by Volkswagen AG’s Czech unit, Skoda Auto AS, in China and an agreement with PPF AS with Huawei about building a 5G wireless network as potential targets for reprisals.

Read more: Germany Prioritizes 5G Network Security as It Mulls Huawei Risks

Western governments are worried that Huawei’s systems could be used by Chinese intelligence to gather data. On Friday, Poland arrested a Huawei employee and a former Polish security agent and accused them of spying for China.

Germany is also weighing whether to restrict the role of Huawei in building the country’s future telecom infrastructure. Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei equipment from participating in planned 5G networks, and the head of British MI6 said last month the government needs to decide whether to ban the company.

Zeman, whose position is largely ceremonial, said the Czech report contained no proof that would justify the warnings and that it had resulted in a “serious” threat for economic interests in China.

Image result for Andrej Babis, pictures

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis Meets Angela Merkel In Berlin

At the same time, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said his government has no information that China is preparing sanctions against Prague because of the report, the CTK news service reported. The premier noted that the cyber security office should explain how it arrived at its conclusions.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-11/huawei-warnings-may-bring-chinese-retaliation-czech-leader-says

Advertisements

Italy’s Far-right Leader Salvini: ‘I Don’t Have to Justify Myself Every Time I Go to Israel’

December 11, 2018

Prior to visit, Salvini tells Foreign Press Association that ‘the growing anti-Semitism goes together with Islamic extremism, to which no one is paying attention’

.
Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, at a news conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome, Italy, December 10, 2018
Bloomberg

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, a leader of country’s far-right, is arriving Tuesday in Israel for a two-day visit.

In a conversation with the Foreign Press Association on Monday, Salvini said, “The growing anti-Semitism goes together with Islamic extremism, to which no one is paying attention.” Salvini also addressed the criticism of his visit to Israel, saying, “I don’t have to justify myself every time I go to Israel.”

Salvini is expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon, when he will meet with Latin Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.

In the evening he will attend a “graffiti and nightlife” tour of Jerusalem’s Mahaneh Yehuda market. On Wednesday morning he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, and fly back to Italy in the late afternoon.

Salvini will not be meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, with the president’s bureau stating his “tight schedule” as the reason.

In a recent interviewwith CNN, the president said that the neo-fascist movement should not be accepted in Israel. “You can’t say – we admire the State of Israel and want ties with it, but we’re neo-fascists,” Rivlin said.

Salvini is the leader of the far-right Northern League party, and is known especially for his strong resistance to the intake of migrants and asylum seekers in his country.

In the past, his party mostly represented separatists from northern Italy, but under his leadership the Northern League became more popular at a national level, partly due to his attacks on foreigners.

The party became the second-largest faction in the Italian parliament after the recent elections, and Salvini entered his position in June when the Italian government was sworn in.

While he holds the position of interior minister, Salvini’s dominance casts a heavy shadow over Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte; some even claim that Salvini is the one dictating the country’s agenda.

Salvini also stirred unrest when he called for a registry of all the nomadic Roma people living in Italy.

In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper this past month, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Fico said Italy was weighing the possibility of opening a cultural mission in Jerusalem, as the Czech Republic has done.

Salvini’s visit comes on the heels of multiple meetings Netanyahu has held with leaders who are associated with the far right across the world or politicians who have joined far-right parties.

Recently, Czech President Milos Zeman visited Israel and addressed his promise to move his country’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem – a move his government opposes and that is not under his authority to decide on.

In September, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is accused of violating human rights in his country, also paid a visit to Israel.

In July, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, who leads a counter-democratic policy, came to the Holy Land. A month earlier, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who is spearheading efforts to end the Israeli boycott on far-right ministers in his government, also visited Israel.

Netanyahu recently declared that he would participate in the swearing-in ceremony of Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who is also perceived to be on the far right side of the political map.

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/italy-s-salvini-i-don-t-have-to-justify-myself-every-time-i-go-to-israel-1.6729437

Czech leader admits Novichok nerve agent handling: “The Czech Republic produced and tested Novichok, though in a small amount, and then destroyed it,”

May 4, 2018

 Pro-Russian Czech President Milos Zeman said the Czech Republic had tested the substance Britain says was used to poison a former Russian spy on its soil.

© AFP/File / by Jan FLEMR | Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in March in an English city

Zeman’s statement Thursday countered previous claims by the Czech government rejecting Moscow’s allegations that the EU and NATO member state had produced the Novichok nerve agent that was allegedly used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter in an English city in March.

The Kremlin said the substance had been produced by the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden when denying allegations by London and its allies that Moscow was behind the March 4 incident.

“The Czech Republic produced and tested Novichok, though in a small amount, and then destroyed it,” Zeman, a 73-year-old veteran leftwinger, said in a television interview on Thursday.

Zeman cited a military intelligence report but acknowledged that the country’s civilian intelligence and a military history institute denied that Novichok was produced on Czech soil.

Zeman said “a paralytic poison marked A230 was tested” in the Czech Republic last November but for reasons that are unclear later cited the report as “explicitly labelling A340 as Novichok.”

The foreign ministry confirmed on Friday that Czech labs had tested substances similar to Novichok through micro-synthesis, a process which it insisted is not regarded as production under international agreements.

“The paralytic poison used in the attack in Britain is marked A234 and so it’s a different variety from that tested by the Czech Military Research Institute,” it said, adding that the substance was immediately destroyed.

The Kremlin hailed Zeman’s comments.

“The Czech Republic has acted honestly and courageously, officially recognising and revealing this information,” Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said Zeman’s words highlighted the “inconsistency” of the British government’s claims that Russia was behind the Skripal attack.

“It’s a new confirmation that the entire Skripal story is an absolute provocation,” Peskov told reporters.

Josef Mlejnek, a political analyst at Charles University in Prague, said Zeman’s claim reflected his staunchly pro-Russian stance.

“They (Russia) have already started using Zeman’s claim in a media battle,” he told AFP, going so far as to argue that “this confirms that he (Zeman) is working for the Kremlin”.

burs-frj/mas/txw

by Jan FLEMR
AFP

Fast Europe Open: UK retail sales, Czech Republic GDP

February 16, 2018

View From Hong kong

Financial Times (FT)

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

.

Alice Woodhouse in Hong Kong — 0800 GMT, February 16, 2018

.
Beware the pollutants in your bathroom cabinet.

Volatile chemicals from everyday consumer items such as cleaning products, aerosols and even perfumes now rival vehicle emissions as a cause of air pollution.

A research team led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reached the surprising conclusion after assessing the source of chemicals that reacted in the air to form fine particles and other lung-damaging pollutants in the US city of Los Angeles.

“As transportation gets cleaner, those other sources become more and more important,” said Brian McDonald, the project leader. “The stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution.”

In markets, Japanese stocks rallied as the rebound in global equities showed little sign of slowing following the sharp sell off last week. The Topix was 1.2 per cent higher although Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.1 per cent. Markets in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam were closed for the lunar new year.

Meanwhile, the dollar resumed its downward trajectory with the dollar index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of peers, falling 0.3 per cent to 88.305, a three-year low. The yen strengthened further to ¥105.75, a 15-month high.

Futures tip the FTSE 100 to open 0.5 per cent higher, while the S&P 500 is set to open up 0.2 per cent.

Corporate earnings and updates for Friday include Air France, EDF, Danone, Renault and Allianz. The economic calendar believes three is the magic number (all times London):

08.00: Czech Republic Q4 gross domestic product
08.20: European Central Bank’s Benoit Coeure speaks in Macedonia
09.30: UK retail sales

https://www.ft.com/content/ef966116-12d8-11e8-8cb6-b9ccc4c4dbbb

******************************************

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Czech Republic

The economy had a strong showing in 2017: Growth picked up pace in three consecutive quarters, and indicators suggest the momentum carried over into the final quarter. Industrial production and retail trade turned in positive results again in November, albeit moderating from the prior month. Furthermore, the manufacturing PMI continued climbing throughout the quarter, clocking a multi-year high in January. However, while consumer confidence improved in January, business confidence slipped. Politically, the sailing is less smooth. President Milos Zeman, an ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, won a second term on 27 January; he is one of the few allies of Andrej Babiš, who has been prime minister since December. Babiš, who lost a no-confidence vote on 10 January, has been unable to garner majority backing to form a government. However, the Communist Party agreed to restart talks over possible support of a Babiš-government. The combination of Zeman and Babiš could, however, strain relations with the EU further as both men oppose further EU integration.

See more:

https://www.focus-economics.com/countries/czech-republic

Czech presidential challenger Drahos ahead of incumbent Zeman in poll

January 22, 2018

Reuters

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Independent challenger Jiri Drahos holds a narrow lead over Milos Zeman, the incumbent president of the Czech Republic, before this weekend’s election, but undecided voters could tilt the balance, an opinion poll showed on Monday.

 Image result for Czech presidential candidate Jiri Drahos, photos

Czech presidential candidate Jiri Drahos arrives on a stage to address his supporters during his campaign, ahead of an election run-off, in Prague, Czech Republic January 22, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny

Drahos, a soft-spoken academic, is hoping to unite liberal, pro-western Czech voters alienated by Zeman’s blunt and occasionally vulgar style and preference for Russia and China.

The incumbent’s anti-immigration, anti-elitist message retains strong appeal. His long experience in politics as former leader of the center-left Social Democrats and prime minister in 1998-2002 are also advantages.

A poll of 1,078 people by STEM/MARK for the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes showed 47 percent of voters backed Drahos while 43 percent supported Zeman. The remaining 10 percent of undecided respondents who want to vote will be the decisive force.

A previous poll by Kantar TNS released on Sunday, Zeman edged Drahos by 45.5 to 45 percent, although Drahos had more convinced voters.

The Jan. 26-27 second round echoes the divisions in presidential elections in neighbors Austria and Slovakia, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump’s battle with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the White House in 2016.

Czech President Milos Zeman will face a runoff in two weeks [Reuters]
Czech President Milos Zeman will face a runoff  [Reuters]

The 73-year-old Zeman has courted the far right and the Communist Party in rejecting migrants from Muslim countries while pursuing warmer relations with Russia and China and sniping at the press. He won the first election round with 38.6 percent of the vote.

Drahos, 68, finished second on 26.6 percent with support from liberal voters attracted by his policies favoring European Union integration.

The vote is seen as a referendum on Zeman, who has been in office since 2013. Most candidates who lost in the first round of voting have endorsed Drahos.

Czech presidents have limited executive power, but they do appoint prime ministers and central bankers, represent the country abroad and can have a big influence in public opinion.

This election might also affect the leadership of the next government. Prime Minister Andrej Babis is rushing to form a new cabinet before a new presidential term starts on March 8.

The billionaire businessman Babis, whose ANO party was a runaway winner in a parliamentary election last October, has struggled to get governing partners while he battles police allegations of EU subsidy fraud, which he denies.

Zeman has backed Babis, who in turn has endorsed Zeman in the election. Drahos has advised Babis to step aside to help a new administration form and has said it would be unacceptable to have a prime minister who faces police charges.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka, editing by Larry King

Protests as China’s Xi arrives in Prague

March 28, 2016

AFP

© AFP / by Jan Marchal | A Czech flag hangs next to a Chinese flag splattered with a black substance, in Prague on March 26, 2016

PRAGUE (AFP) – Protests greeted China’s President Xi Jinping as he arrived in Prague on Monday on the first visit by a Chinese head of state to the Czech Republic.

Along the road leading from the airport, dozens of pro-Tibetan demonstrators scuffled with well-wishers who had turned out to welcome the Chinese leader on a visit which has seen Czech President Milos Zeman come under fire for his pro-China policies.

On Monday, demonstrators put up a giant picture of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama with the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, a former dissident and human rights activist, in a park by a road leading from the airport.

And at the weekend, dozens of Chinese flags hung up along the boulevard were defaced.

Although the ruined flags were replaced, dozens of demonstrators on Monday tried to hang Tibetan flags in their place, sparking scuffles with pro-Beijing supporters, the Czech news agency CTK reported.

Police said they had arrested 12 people.

Shouting also erupted in the park as Xi’s supporters covered up the Dalai Lama billboard with giant Chinese flags, sparking a heated argument with the pro-Tibetan demonstrators, the agency said.

After Xi’s arrival on a 48-hour visit focused on business cooperation, the Chinese leader met with Zeman at his official residence just outside Prague where the two leaders also planted a ginkgo biloba tree, holding watering cans adorned with Czech and Chinese flags, CTK said.

In the city centre, another 150 people, mostly Chinese, had gathered outside the Hilton Hotel to welcome the president, waving Chinese flags and banners and banging on drums, the agency added.

Zeman has hailed the visit as a “new start” in Prague’s relations with Beijing, saying China could invest up to 45 billion koruna (1.66 billion euros/$1.86 billion) in the Czech Republic.

“It’s a new start since we used to have terrible relations with China and the previous government gave in to pressure from the United States and the EU,” Zeman told China’s CCTV channel in an interview quoted on Monday by CTK.

“Right now we are once again an independent country and we formulate our foreign policy based on our own interests. We do not meddle in the interests of any other country,” he added.

Chinese group CEFC has recently invested about 20 billion koruna (740 million euros/$828 million) in the country, buying stakes in a charter airline, a brewery, two media groups and a top football team.

– ‘Presidential bootlicking’ –

Zeman, a 71-year-old pro-Russian leftwinger, was the only European head of state to attend a military parade in Beijing last September that commemorated Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II.

But his recent remarks on the visit drew an angry reaction from opposition figures, with former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek, an MP for the rightwing TOP 09 party, denouncing them as “repulsive”.

“His statement basically rejects the long-term foreign and security policy of the Czech Republic,” he said, accusing the president of “bootlicking authoritarian and unfree regimes.”

The Dalai Lama has visited Prague several times to meet Havel. He has been invited to attend an international forum in Prague later this year.

Beijing, which has ruled Tibet since 1951, says it has brought economic development to the Himalayan region and has questioned the sincerity of the Dalai Lama, who fled for India after a failed uprising in 1959.

Beijing accuses the Nobel Peace Prize winner of supporting separatism and violence in the region.

Another rally against Beijing’s policy on Tibet is scheduled for Tuesday outside the Czech presidential seat, the Prague Castle.

After visiting Prague, Xi will travel to the United States to attend a nuclear security summit which begins on March 31.

by Jan Marchal

Czech President says it is ‘impossible’ for Muslims to integrate into modern Europe

January 17, 2016

.

Image may contain: 1 person, suit and eyeglasses

Czech president Milos Zeman

  • Czech president Milos Zeman, 71, is known for anti-immigrant outburst
  • He said integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible’
  • Also blamed Cologne attacks on allowing ‘Muslim culture’ in Europe

The president of the Czech Republic has claimed it is ‘impossible’ for Muslims to integrate into modern Europe.

Speaking on local TV, President Milos Zeman also blamed the New Years Eve sex attacks in Cologne, Germany, on ‘Muslim culture’.

Zeman is known for his fiery anti-migrant comments and has previously accused refugees ‘with iPhones’ of exploiting their children to get asylum in the EU.

Controversial: Czech President Milos Zeman, 71, said the experience of Western Europe is that ‘the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible’

‘The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible,’ Zeman said in a televised interview Sunday.

‘Let them have their culture in their countries and not take it to Europe, otherwise it will end up like Cologne,’ he added, referring to the mass New Year’s Eve assaults on women in Germany and elsewhere.

RELATED ARTICLES

‘Integration is possible with hat are similar, and the similarities may vary,’ pointing out that the Vietnamese and Ukrainian communities had been able to integrate into Czech society.

Zeman, a 71-year-old leftwinger and the first-ever directly elected president of the Czech Republic, has repeatedly spoken out against the surge of migrant and refugee arrivals in Europe.

Harsh words: Zeman, who is known for his anti-Islam rhetoric, also blamed the horrific New Years Eve sex attacks in Cologne on 'Muslim culture'

Harsh words: Zeman, who is known for his anti-Islam rhetoric, also blamed the horrific New Years Eve sex attacks in Cologne on ‘Muslim culture’

Migrants walk through snow storm from the Macedonian border into Serbia, near the village of Miratovac, Serbia, early morning on Sunday

Bracing cold temperatures and snow storms hundreds of migrants continue to arrive daily into Serbia in order to register and continue their journey further north towards Western Europe

Earlier this month, Zeman claimed the influx was masterminded by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood which uses money from several states to finance it in a bid to ‘gradually control Europe’.

It followed controversial statements accusing refugees and migrants of risking their children’s lives crossing the Mediterranean in order to use them to secure a right to remain in the EU.

‘They[children] serve as human shields for guys with iPhones to justify the wave of migrants,’ Zeman said in an interview with a Czech tabloid in November.

‘Those hiding behind the children … in my opinion, do not deserve any compassion. They bring the children over in rubber dingys, knowing they might drown.’

Migrants wait inside a tent to keep warm before departing from the registration camp after crossing from the Macedonian border into Serbia, in Presevo, Serbia

A migrant couple wait to be registered at the registration camp after crossing from the Macedonian border into Serbia, in Presevo

A migrant couple wait to be registered at the registration camp after crossing from the Macedonian border into Serbia, in Presevo

Late last year, Zeman called the surge in refugee numbers ‘an organised invasion,’ urging young men from Iraq and Syria to ‘take up arms’ against the Islamic State (IS) group instead of running away.

More than one million migrants reached Europe in 2015, most of them refugees fleeing war and violence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

But few asylum seekers have chosen to stay in the largely secular Czech Republic, an EU and NATO member of 10.5 million people, with the majority heading to wealthier Germany and other western EU states.

Statistics published in July last year, showed that only 409 people were seeking asylum in the central European nation, with some 3,100 refugees living in the country.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3403603/It-s-impossible-integrate-Muslim-community-Western-Europe-says-president-Czech-Republic.html#ixzz3xWmq9PYR
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Related:

Czech president Zeman says refugee wave is ‘organized invasion’

December 27, 2015

Czech President Milos Zeman has compared the refugees arriving to Europe with the Trojan horse, and called the influx an ‘organized invasion.’ His comments were met with outrage.

In his Christmas message, Czech President Zeman warned against welcoming asylum seekers and described the European culture of hospitality as naïve.

.
“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organized invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” he said in the speech broadcast on Saturday.

.
The 71-year old president also compared the refugees to the Czech nationals who left their country during the Nazi occupation, saying that the Czechs intended to “fight to liberate the country and not to receive social benefits in Great Britain.”

.
“A large majority of the illegal migrants are young men in good health, and single. I wonder why these men are not taking up arms to go fight for the freedom of their countries against the Islamic State,” said Zeman, who was elected head of state in early 2013.

.
The Czech president is known for his anti-immigrant attitude. In November, he attended an anti-Islam rally in Prague along with far-right politicians and a paramilitary unit.

.
Earlier in the year, he warned that the refugees might bring terrorism and infectious diseases to Europe.

.
Majority opposing the influx

.
In his Christmas message, Zeman also invoked a comparison to the Trojan war and the mythical prophetess Cassandra.

“Sometimes I feel like Cassandra, warning the Trojans not to bring the horse into the city,” he said.

.
In response, the country’s prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Zeman’s address was based “on prejudices and his habitual simplification of things.”

.
Only a small number of refugees passing through have chosen to stay in the Czech Republic, with the majority heading to Germany and other, richer EU members. Some activists have accussed the government of purposfully treating the newcomers badly, in order to fright the refugees away.

.
According to a recent survey, almost 70 percent of Czechs oppose the arrival of migrants and refugees in their country.
dj/rg (AFP, dpa)

http://www.dw.com/en/czech-president-zeman-says-refugee-wave-is-organized-invasion/a-18943660

Economic migrants use children as ‘human shields’: Czech leader

October 25, 2015

AFP

In his latest outburst the Czech president has accused wealthy economic migrants of cynically exploiting children to reach the European Union

PRAGUE (AFP) – The Czech president Sunday accused economic migrants of using children as “human shields” in their bid to reach Europe, as the continent grapples with its biggest migration crisis since World War II.President Milos Zeman has made several fiery broadsides against migrants, earning sharp criticism from the UN’s human rights chief, who this week also accused Prague of systematically detaining migrants in degrading conditions to put off others.

In his latest outburst, to the Blesk tabloid, Zeman accused wealthy economic migrants of cynically exploiting children to reach the European Union.

“They serve as human shields for guys with iPhones to justify the wave of migrants,” President Milos Zeman said in a video interview on the website of the Blesk tabloid.

“Those hiding behind the children … in my opinion, do not deserve any compassion,” added the outspoken veteran leftwinger.

“They bring the children over in rubber dingys, knowing they might drown,” said Zeman, in office since 2013 as the Czech Republic’s first-ever directly elected president.

The statements follow his earlier fiery remarks targeting refugees, including “no one invited you here.”

Zeman also recently said migrants would “respect sharia (Islamic law) instead of Czech laws” and that “unfaithful women will be stoned and thieves will have their hands cut off.”

He has lashed out at Islamic women wearing the veil saying “we’ll be deprived of women’s beauty, because they’ll be covered from head to toe.

“This would obviously be an advantage for some women, but they’re few and far between.”

On Thursday, United Nations rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, termed the Czech president’s remarks “Islamophobic”.

Hussein also sharply criticised the Czech Republic, an EU and NATO member, over poor conditions at centres where it locks up refugees, including children, detained on their way to western Europe.

Zeman on Sunday invited Hussein to come to the Czech Republic to inspect conditions at the camps.

More than 600,000 migrants and refugees, mainly fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have braved the dangerous journey to Europe so far this year, according to UN numbers.

China continues Czech buying spree with airline, brewery deals

September 6, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Czech President Milos Zeman in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 4, 2015. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei)

Jason Hovet

* CEFC buys majority stake in Pivovary Lobkowicz Group

* Takes 10 percent in airline company Travel Service

* Has also acquired soccer club, media group stakes

* Czechs seeking closer economic ties with China

(Combines details of airline, brewery, other deals)

PRAGUE, Sept 5 (Reuters) – China’s sixth largest private company CEFC added to a weeklong buying spree in the Czech Republic on Saturday, announcing deals to buy a majority stake in a top brewery group and a share in an airline company in the central European country.

The Czechs have sought more investment ties with the world’s second largest economy. This week President Milos Zeman was the only Western leader to attend a massive military parade to mark the end of World War Two in Beijing.

CEFC, which counts energy and financial services as its core businesses, had already announced a series of deals, including taking a majority in Slavia Prague, one of the oldest Czech soccer clubs.

On Saturday, CEFC China Energy Company said it had acquired a 10 percent stake in Travel Service, operator of airline Smartwings and the second-largest shareholder in Czech Airlines after Korean Air. CEFC said it planned to acquire a further 39.92 stake in Travel Service at a later date.

“An investment into the largest Czech airline operator is a big opportunity for us to develop our business in Europe,” CEFC President Chan Chauto said. “We chose Prague as the headquarters of our European activities and plan to invest in all areas.”

CEFC will also be the lead investor in a 1.9 billion crown ($78.46 million) deal to buy a 79.4 percent stake in brewer Pivovary Lobkowicz Group by taking 70 percent control of the special purposed company buying the share. Czech investment group J&T will hold 20 percent.

Lobkowicz Chief Executive Zdenek Radil, who had agreed to buy the brewery stake in June, will have 10 percent in the new shareholder and an option to buy another 10 percent from CEFC.

Lobkowicz is the fifth largest brewer in the Czech Republic – home of the original Pilsner lager and the world’s highest per-capita annual beer consumption rate. It said CEFC’s involvement will create opportunities in Asian markets.

CEFC had already announced this week it would buy two buildings in Prague’s centre and double its stake in J&T Finance Group to 9.99 percent, aiming to grow that to 30 percent.

It also said on Saturday it would buy minority stakes in communication firm Medea Group and media company Empresa Media, which owns television channel TV Barrandov and publishes weekly magazine Tyden.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

***********************************

BEIJING, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping said Friday that China and the Czech Republic should continue to consolidate the political basis for bilateral relations and boost cooperation in various fields.

Xi made the remarks during a meeting with Czech President Milos Zeman, who attended commemorations in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.

He said Zeman’s attendance at the commemorations showed the spirit of respecting historical facts, adding that China, as the main Eastern theater of the war, made tremendous contributions to the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.

The president also praised the Czech people’s unyielding heroism on European battlegrounds during the war.

China-Czech relations have maintained rapid development and the two should strengthen high-level exchanges and dialogue at different levels, he said.

He called on the two countries to consolidate the economic basis for their cooperation, combine development strategies, and conduct cooperation in such areas as manufacturing, nuclear power and infrastructure.

China and the Czech Republic should also inject more vitality into their people-to-people and cultural exchanges, Xi said.

Zeman said his country attaches importance to its relations with China and is willing to keep boosting exchanges and cooperation in finance, aviation, investment and other fields.

The Czech Republic will also actively take part in cooperation projects within the framework of the China-proposed “Belt and Road” initiative, he said.