Saturday, 19 August 2017

Právo: Zeman shows dual approach to forms of authoritarianism

ČTK |
28 July 2017

Prague, July 27 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman shows a dual approach to various forms of authoritarian regimes and some may even suspect him of preferring authoritarianism to democracy, Jiri Pehe writes in daily Pravo today, reacting to the opinions Zeman voiced in a recent radio interview.

Zeman said authoritarian regimes offer objectively better conditions for long-term business projects than parliamentary democracies. In democracies, politicians hesitate on whether to support long-term projects exceeding their election term, since the projects' success might come too late for them and benefit their successors, Zeman said, cited by Pehe.

Zeman also said he maintains good relations with authoritarian regimes' politicians for the sake of Czech economy, which is certainly a cogent argument, Pehe writes.

Nevertheless, Zeman's way of supporting selected Czech business companies in this connection and the criteria he applies are disputable, Pehe continues.

In the interview with Czech Radio, Zeman said he simply backs the companies recommended to him by the Industry and Trade Ministry, without the Presidential Office checking them.

This is really a strange practice by Zeman, since at home he is fiercely opposed to being a president who merely adds his signatures to decisions, including those which the constitution binds him simply to sign, Pehe writes.

Without checking the proposal, Zeman also recommended Liglass Trading CZ, an unknown Czech company, to the Kyrgyz president for building hydroelectric plants in his country, a step that caused uproar in the past days, Pehe writes.

Zeman said he knew nothing of Liglass and has only acted at the ministry's recommendation. Presidential Office director Vratislav Mynar seems to have acted in the same way when he added his signature to Zeman's under the letter of recommendation to Bishkek, Pehe writes.

Furthermore, Zeman applies dual criteria on various kinds of authoritarianism, he continues.

In relation to authoritarian regimes, Zeman evidently does not take regard of any "value ladder" except for possible economic profit. He even mocks human rights defenders, Pehe writes.

At home, however, Zeman initiatively "screens" candidates for the title of professor, though their nomination was approved by universities and it is not up to the president to check it. As a reason for his previous refusal to sign some candidates' nomination, he mentioned their alleged collaboration with the authoritarian [pre-1989 communist] regime, Pehe writes.

The same Zeman, who showed concern about Czech professors' former collaboration with communists, eventually asserted on Chinese television that he came to Bejing to learn from communist China how to stabilise society, Pehe writes.

The dual criteria Zeman applies to various forms of authoritarianism is confusing for the public, he writes.

Zeman mostly acts in a way putting economic profit above any other values. This may make Czech people believe that an authoritarian regime, for example the style of running a state like a business, may be better for the Czech Republic's stability and welfare than democracy, in which politicians are slaves of the election cycle, Pehe writes in an ironical hint at Andrej Babis, a business magnate close to Zeman and leader of the ANO movement which is a hot favourite in the Czech forthcoming general election.

rtj/t/kva

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