Monday, 21 April 2014

Schwarzenberg not to quit as foreign minister

ČTK |
14 January 2013

Prague, Jan 13 (CTK) - Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09), one of the two candidates advancing in the Czech presidential race, will not resign as foreign minister and deputy PM before the second round of the polls, he said yesterday, adding that he wants to discuss his next steps with PM Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) next week.

The other advancing presidential candidate, former Social Democrat (CSSD) prime minister Milos Zeman (Citizens' Rights Party, SPOZ), appreciated the support the senior opposition CSSD voiced for him ahead of the second round of the two-round direct election due on January 25-26.

He said in a television discussion the CSSD's support has easied the tension that had afflicted relations between him and the CSSD, a party he chaired in the past but fell out with it in the mid-2000s.

"I hold in esteem the CSSD's approach by which, I think, the CSSD proved that it is really a left-wing party," said Zeman, who presents himself as a left-leaning candidate.

After the CSSD's candidate, senator Jiri Dienstbier, ended fourth of the nine candidates and failed to advance from the first round on Saturday, the CSSD leadership recommended that its voters consider supporting Zeman in the second round.

"I believe that this resolution of the CSSD leadership headed by [Bohuslav] Sobotka will ease mutual tensions persisting on both sides," Zeman said.

During the campaign ahead of the first election round, Dienstbier did not spare Zeman a number of critical lash-outs.

Zeman, who still has many supporters in the CSSD, yesterday said he would not influence the choice of the new CSSD leadership by the party's congress in March.

Schwarzenberg, Zeman's partner in the debate on Czech Television, said he would leave neither his posts in the cabinet nor the helm of the conservative junior ruling TOP 09.

"I'll not offer any resignation at all for the moment, but I have to consult him [Necas] on my steps in the next ten days, this is by all means necessary," Schwarzenberg said.

He said he need not reduce his work as foreign minister because election "campaigns are usually not conducted in mornings when everyone is at work."

Both he and Zeman said they would not launch a negative campaign against each other.

Zeman indicated that he wants to spend another million crowns on campaigning. Schwarzenberg said he would spend some five million.

($=19.280 crowns)

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