Zeman’s past year full of controversies

President Milos Zeman
President Milos Zeman

Prague – Czech President Milos Zeman’s past year was full of controversies as he had to face a great deal of criticism over his attitude to the Ukrainian-Russian crisis and public vulgar statements.

He made a number of trips inside and outside the country where he supported the exports of Czech companies.

Besides, he clashed with the government over the latest version of the civil service law.

After Russia annexed Ukrainian Crimea, Zeman criticised Russia and spoke in favour of NATO’s strong reaction.

However, later his position started to turn in favour of Russia. This came to a head with his criticism of the anti-Russian sanctions, rejection of Ukraine’s NATO bid and offer of its Finlandisation.

This was followed by Ukraine summoning the Czech ambassador to Kiev who was to explain Zeman’s attitude.

Human rights groups and the right-wing opposition have also criticised Zeman for what they called friendly relations with authoritarian regimes.

This year, he has visited Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and China. In the latter country, he said he had come there to stabilise society.

The West started to watch the Czech foreign policy with the fear that it was leaving its usual stress on human rights.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) improved this image during his November visit to the USA where he repeatedly stressed that his government still claimed the heritage of dissident and first Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Speaking of Russian political prisoners and the Pussy Riot in an interview with Czech Radio on November 2, Zeman used the rudest translation of the word “pussy” and he said the band’s texts were very vulgar, using very explicit language here again, and, adding in a sarcastic manner, that he was not going to defend such rather deviant ladies or “whores.”

In addition, Zeman said the government had “fucked up” the civil service law and that his presidential rival Karel Schwarzenberg also used dirty language, such as “shit,” while being popular among students and intellectuals.

People from Zeman’s environment defend Zeman, arguing that his statements were often taken out of context and deformed.

Zeman also dismissed the notion that the brutal suppression of the student demonstration on November 17, 1989, that triggered the fall of the Communist regime, by the Communist police should be called a massacre.

During the celebration of November 17, thousands of people protested against Zeman.

At an official rally commemorating the event in the Albertov university campus, Zeman was whistled off and pelted with eggs during his speech he was delivering in the presence of the presidents of Germany, Poland and Slovakia.

The trust in Zeman fell to the record low of 34 percent in late December down from about 50 percent in February.

Zeman also has many advocates. A number of businesspeople have praised him for his support for economic diplomacy that opens the door for them in the countries Zeman has visited.

Zeman was also in France, Romania and Slovenia.

He has toured seven Czech regions and regularly met other top elected officers.

Unlike his predecessor Vaclav Klaus, Zeman has managed to maintain the Constitutional Court (US) in its full composition.

Zeman had a number of clashes with the new government of Sobotka whom he only named 83 days after the elections.

Zeman vetoed the civil service bill drafted by the government and later challenged it at the US.

He continued with his criticism of Islam and support for Israel.

Zeman said Islamic State posed the biggest threat to the current world.

Contrary to the military command’s opinion, he has repeatedly supported the deployment of Czech troops in the Golan Heights.

Written by: ČTK

Source: Czech News

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Foreign Policy News is a self-financed initiative providing a venue and forum for political analysts and experts to disseminate analysis of major political and business-related events in the world, shed light on particulars of U.S. foreign policy from the perspective of foreign media and present alternative overview on current events affecting the international relations.

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