Petr Dubinsky

Jakub Kulhanek Named New Foreign Minister

President Miloš Zeman will appoint Social Democrat candidate Jakub Kulhánek (CSSD) as Foreign Minister on Wednesday afternoon at Prague Castle. After today’s meeting between Zeman and Kulhánek, the spokesman of the Castle, Jiří Ovčáček, posted on Twitter. After Monday’s dismissal of Tomáš Petříček (CSSD), diplomacy is temporarily led by the chairman of the CSSD and the Minister of the Interior, Jan Hamáček. In a statement, Kulhánek said that he did not want to change anything in the long-term direction of foreign policy. According to him, he must speak with one voice.

“The President of the Republic Miloš Zeman will appoint Jakub Kulhánek as Minister of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, April 21 at 2:00 pm at Prague Castle,” said Ovčáček. Today, the current Deputy Minister of the Interior, Kulhánek, attended a meeting with Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO). Babiš then told Blesk that he was a good candidate.

Kulhánek said that he was discussing foreign policy with Zeman. “I told the president that I do not intend to change anything in its long-term direction and that I will promote the Czech national interests,” he said. He also emphasized that he would strive for foreign policy to speak with one voice and maintain its value orientation.
He also briefed Zeman on his priorities. “In the first place is the covid-related plan, especially the rules for Czech citizens’ travel and government support in vaccination diplomacy. Or support for Czech exports, which will be very important for the recovery of the Czech economy,” he said.

Before the meeting with Babiš, Kulhánek told reporters that he wanted to communicate his priorities in the office first to the Prime Minister and the President. After discussions with Babiš and Zeman, he avoided journalists. The deputy is Hamáček’s second choice as foreign minister; on Tuesday, Lubomír Zaorálek (ČSSD) refused to return to the head of an office.

Hamáček proposed Petříček’s dismissal after he won the election of the party chairman last week. He justified this by saying that the CSSD must act in unison. Kulhánek is one of the long-term collaborators of the leaders of the Social Democracy. He advised former Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotek and is now one of Hamáček’s closest collaborators.

Since mid-July 2018, he has been working as Hamáček’s deputy at the Ministry of the Interior, having previously been his parliamentary adviser when Hamáček chaired the Chamber of Deputies. He also worked as a deputy at the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs. He also worked for the Chinese company CEFC Europe. Because of this and due to inexperience, his nomination is criticized by the opposition.