Czech president, US envoy in rare public spat over Ukraine

22:43 6 Aprel 2015
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[ 06 April 2015 23:35 ]

Baku-APA. Czech President Milos Zeman and the U.S. ambassador to Prague are in a rare public dispute over Zeman's decision to attend a Russian military parade, and the country's prime minister together with Czech lawmakers are siding with the American, APA reports quoting Associated Press.



In an interview with online publication Parlamentni Listy on Sunday, Zeman bristled at the envoy's implied criticism of his decision to attend Moscow's traditional May 9 military parade despite the crisis in Ukraine. Zeman said U.S. Ambassador Andrew Shapiro is no longer welcome in the Prague Castle, the seat of presidency.

"I think that the reaction of President Zeman was not adequate," Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said. "I would naturally welcome it if the attitude of Mr. President to foreign policy in general was a bit more professional," Sobotka told the Czech public television on Monday.


"We should be able to communicate with our friends and allies," Sobotka added.

Parliament's lower house speaker, Jan Hamacek, said he thought Zeman was overreacting; the deputy speaker of Parliament's upper house, Premysl Sobotka, said Zeman demonstrated a lack of "diplomatic thinking."

Jan Mlejnek, an analyst, said Zeman's rhetoric was unfortunate and will harm Czech-U.S. relations.



In an emailed statement from the U.S. embassy, Shapiro said "it would be unfortunate for President Zeman to be there as perhaps? the only EU head of state."

Zeman, whose is critical of European Union sanctions against Russia, said he wanted to honor Soviet soldiers who sacrificed their lives to liberate his country in World War II.

The Czech presidency is a largely ceremonial post and the government is in charge of foreign policy. Sobotka said he accepted Zeman's explanation for the trip.

Shapiro said he regretted that Zeman felt offended.



"I value a good working relationship with everyone, and I want him to know that my door will be open to him,"? Shapiro said. "I also want the Czech people to know that the United States government, and the people of America, value our relationship as partners and allies more than ever."

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