Monday, 23 October 2017

Czech government rejects Zeman's pro-Russian statements

ČTK |
12 October 2017

Prague, Oct 11 (CTK) - The whole Czech government coalition rejected Zeman's pro-Russian stances presented in his speech in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday as they are at variance with the cabinet's policy Culture Minister Daniel Herman tweeted on Wednesday.

The government of the Social Democrats (CSSD), ANO and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) debated Zeman's speech at its regular session on Wednesday.

Zeman called the Russian annexation of Crimea a "fait accompli" in his speech in the EC. He recommended that Russia and Ukraine agree on compensation, for instance in the form of money or oil or gas.

Zeman also pointed out that the anti-Russian sanctions were not effective.

"We debated Zeman's speech and his stances, which are at variance with the government policy, at the cabinet meeting and rejected them within the whole coalition," Herman (KDU-CSL) said.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) said similar words should not be heard from a country that experienced the Czechoslovak events of 1939 and 1968, which was the Nazi and the Soviet-led occupation of the country, respectively.

He said military force has been imposed on Crimea, which is not strong enough to face it.

Zaoralek said he does not believe it is necessary for him to explain the whole affair to Ukrainian diplomats.

"Our position has been clearly heard from me and from the prime minister. The Ukrainian side understands the situation," Zaoralek said.

He said he and Ukrainian representatives know each other well and the Ukrainians feel no doubts about his and Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka's opinions.

Sobotka (CSSD) tweeted on Tuesday that Zeman had no mandate from the cabinet for his speech in the CE and his words were at variance with Czech foreign policy.

At a press conference following the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Herman said it is not the president but the government who is responsible for Prague's foreign policy.

The cabinet stated that the occupation of Crimea is a similar event trampling on international law like, for example, the Munich Agreement from 1938, by which France, Britain, Italy and Hitler's Germany forced Czechoslovakia to cede its border regions with prevailing German population to the Third Reich.

Later on Wednesday, Deputy PM and KDU-CSL leader Pavel Belobradek said Zeman has failed in promoting Czech national interests.

"It is in the Czech Republic's national interest not to tolerate the annexation of Crimea, because we must not admit a precedent that would enable a bigger country to use military force to annex a smaller country's territory," Belobradek said in a press release.

Zeman's proposal for tackling the Crimea problem stirred up Kiev's sharp reaction. Ukrainian diplomacy called it absolutely unacceptable in its official statement.

On the contrary, Russian politicians assessed it as an actual recognition of the Crimean annexation.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) said on Tuesday that Zeman's words were not in harmony with the position Prague was promoting on international forums.

Other representatives of the government and opposition parties criticised Zeman's speech as well.

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