Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sobotka to talk with Zeman about correct relations with ČSSD

ČTK |
4 February 2013

Prague, Feb 3 (CTK) - Czech senior opposition chairman Bohuslav Sobotka Sunday said he will meet President-Elect Milos Zeman next week and wants to tell him that the CSSD, the strongest party in parliament, wishes correct and matter-of-fact relations with the new president.

Zeman is the first president to emerge from a direct election. He will be sworn-in on March 8, one day after outgoing President Vaclav Klaus's mandate expires.

On Tuesday, Zeman will have separate meetings with Klaus and Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS), prime minister of the right-wing coalition cabinet.

"I don't know how much time the president-elect will devote to me, but there is a number of topics we [the CSSD] would like to discuss," Sobotka said in a televised debate.

He admitted that his relation to Zeman is complex, as is the CSSD's relation to Zeman.

Zeman is a former CSSD chairman and prime minister, who fell out with the party after some CSSD deputies did not support him and thwarted his election as president by parliament in 2003. He later established the Citizens' Rights Party (SPOZ) of which he is the honorary chairman.

Observers and commentators say Sobotka is among the CSSD leaders in Zeman's "list of traitors," to whom Zeman may want to "retaliate" now, backed by his numerous fans in the CSSD.

Sobotka recalled that the CSSD supported Zeman ahead of the presidential election's run-off vote against the rival candidate, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09).

"I think this should help our relations be correct and matter-of-fact," Sobotka added.

He said the CSSD respects the strong mandate Zeman has gained as a president elected directly by people.

Sobotka also said he expects Zeman to outline his vision of the future.

"I've registered a number of statements the president has made. He has claimed his adherence to left-wing values and also said he would like the arrival of a government different [from the present one]," Sobotka said.

If the government were to be replaced in 2014 in accordance with Zeman's wish, it can hardly happen without the CSSD beating the ruling ODS and TOP 09 in the mid-2014 elections, Sobotka said.

Sobotka's partner in the televised debate, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09), said he is not scheduled to meet Zeman for now but he would come if Zeman invited him to come.

Kalousek said he expects Zeman to meet Schwarzenberg as the junior ruling TOP 09 chairman and also foreign minister.

Schwarzenberg told CTK that no date of his meeting with Zeman has been set yet.

Vojtech Filip, chairman of the junior opposition Communists (KSCM), will have a meeting with Zeman on Thursday, according to CTK's information.

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