Usually, movements between the salary categories of ambassadors are not found among the latest headlines and are not of international interest. This time, however, President Miloš Zeman apologized to Viktor Orbán for the Foreign Ministry’s intention to exclude the Hungarian embassy from its list of priorities.
The president’s opinion will probably win. The government will discuss the change today and, according to Lidové noviny, ANO ministers will refuse the proposal by their show of votes.
The term embassies of “top political importance” date back to 2005 as part of an internal designation at the Foreign Ministry. The direct consequence of staying in a country in this category is a higher salary. Although it is an administrative change that does not mean a shift in the priorities of the Czech Republic. The diplomatic community is extremely sensitive to any status damage, and the problem lies in a symbolic diplomatic signal.
“Minister Petříček promised me on Monday that it is an internal list that does not have any strategic impact and that he will cancel it,” said Babiš. The canceling refers to the name of the list, which is said to cause unnecessary emotions. The Prime Minister has made it clear that if the question of finance is concerned, the embassies´ arrangement should not change.
The foreign minister Tomáš Petříček has decided to remove four countries from the list: Turkey, Hungary, Italy, and Ukraine. The Ministry says that saving is the main reason for the reduction. Thus the salary of eight people – ambassadors and their deputies – should be reduced. It is impossible to find out exactly what the saved amount would be, but it is probably only thousands of Czech crowns.