Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Outgoing, future presidents insist they are sharp opponents

6 February 2013

Prague, Feb 5 (CTK) - Outgoing Czech President Vaclav Klaus Tuesday said he remains a sharp ideological opponent of Milos Zeman, the president-elect whose candidacy he backed in the recent polls and whom he met Tuesday, while Zeman praised Klaus as a distinguished personality capable of backing an opponent.

"Milos Zeman definitely knows that though I supported him in the [direct presidential] election, I will still remain his old and eternal enemy who disagrees with almost every statement he has ever made," Klaus told journalists when receiving Zeman at the Prague Castle.

"Real distinguished personalities are capable of backing even someone who is their ideological opponent, while undistinguished personalities support only someone with whose opinions they totally and fully agree," said Zeman.

Earlier on Tuesday, Czech umbrella CMKOS union leader Jaroslav Zavadil visited Zeman in his office near the Prague Castle to congratulate him on his election victory.

Zeman, who presented himself in the election campaign as a leftist candidate running for the small Citizens' Rights Party (SPOZ), will be sworn-in as president on March 8, one day after Klaus's second and last possible presidential mandate expires.

As a former social democrat prime minister, Zeman is an old political opponent of Klaus, who was prime minister for the right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) in 1992-1997.

Zeman's CSSD minority cabinet was kept afloat in 1998-2002 by Klaus's arch-rival ODS in exchange for a portion of power. This arrangement was criticised as a "betrayal" of voters by the two parties and an inappropriate division of powers between them.

Klaus and Zeman have always showed respect for each other.

On arrival in the Prague Castle Tuesday, Zeman said he wants to thank Klaus for the support he and his family provided for him at the close of the election campaign when his rival in the run-off vote was Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09).

Klaus said he does not expect anything to prevent Zeman from settling down at the Prague Castle immediately after his swear-in ceremony.

The CMKOS union supported Zeman before his run-off duel with Schwarzenberg, leader of the conservative junior ruling TOP 09, who as a candidate was unacceptable for the unions.

Zeman and the unions share a sharply critical view of the present right-wing cabinet of Petr Necas (ODS).

Zeman is scheduled to meet Necas tonight and he has a few important meetings later this week.

According to available information, Zeman will work in his Prague office till Friday when he is leaving for his country house in south Moravia. He is to spend the whole next week there.

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