Czech officials ‘get nervous’ over prolonged absence of US ambassador

“Unfortunately, this is a standard situation, because about half of the American ambassadors to embassies and various institutions are political appointees.

“That means they all have to go once a president from the other party is elected.

“The Czech Republic is one of the countries that have elected politicians.

“The last career diplomat here was Adrian Basora, who was appointed in 1992, and since him all the others have been political appointments.

“So we are not the only country where you do not yet have ambassadors.

“Unfortunately, what is a little strange at the moment is that we don’t even know the name of a candidate.

Jennifer Bachus |  Photo: United States Embassy in Prague

“It creates the idea that they don’t care that much in Washington, in the White House, that they don’t have an ambassador in Prague.”

Currently, the Embassy in Prague is headed by a Chargé d’Affaires. Concretely, how much of a disadvantage is it that there is no ambassador in place?

“On a practical level, on a work level, it doesn’t make that much of a difference.

“Because I’m sure the charge d’affaires, who is now Jennifer Bachus, is very experienced and can manage the agenda.

“But then you have the symbolic level, the fact that in the difficult negotiations that are currently taking place around the crisis with Russia and Ukraine, you would need an ambassador, like an umbrella, like a leader and a representative who can deal with our foreigners. minister and possibly our president, if he wants to meet the US ambassador.

“So on some level talking about practical negotiations as if the American company Westinghouse will participate in the tender for Dukovany [nuclear power station unit]the charge d’affaires and the political and diplomatic staff of the embassy are more than enough.

“But at the level of representation and for summit meetings, an ambassador should be here.

“And I know the Czech Foreign Ministry is getting a little nervous about what’s going on.”

This week, Czech Defense Minister Jana Černochová told Seznam Zprávy that the absence of a US ambassador for so long could be a “signal”. If she is right, what is this a signal of?

Daniel Anýž |  Photo: Jana Přinosilová, Czech Radio

“I’m afraid this is a signal that the White House is busy with a lot of other things, with a lot of crises, mostly inside the United States.

“Unfortunately, with the polarization of domestic politics in the United States, it’s become quite… I wouldn’t say it’s isolationist, but they don’t have enough time to worry about allies.

“It is a clear fact. The signal is, We have to take care of our politics – you are a reliable ally, but at the same time not so important that we have to send you an ambassador.

” But we are not the only ones. In Germany, they have already appointed the ambassador but she has not yet arrived.

“So you have Germany, with this crisis with Russia, without an ambassador.

“You also have Ukraine without an ambassador. Finland. Romania.

“So it’s not just us. And the general signal, not only to the Czech Republic, is: wait a minute, we have other things to do. »

Berta D. Wells