Friday, 25 April 2014

HN: Remek may defend Russian interests as Czech ambassador

21 March 2013

Prague, March 20 (CTK) - Vladimir Remek, 64, the first Czech astronaut and current MEP for the Communists (KSCM), might defend Russian rather than Czech interests if he became a new ambassador to Moscow, Jindrich Sidlo writes in daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) Wednesday.

He recalls that Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) confirmed, though embarrassedly, in Respekt weekly out on Monday that Remek would really head the Czech embassy in Moscow.

However, Sidlo writes, Schwarzenberg may have meant it as a preventive warning showing the Communists' prize for their possible future support to a Social Democrat (CSSD) minority government under the aegis of President Milos Zeman.

Remek's life and work really provoke the question of whether he has not long been an ambassador of the country (Russia) he is heading for, Sidlo says.

Remek, who wa the first and only citizen of the communist Czechoslovakia in space, can still evoke nostalgic feelings in some people who remember the TV shots in which he and his Soviet colleague Alexei Gubarev were sending greetings from aboard the Soyuz 28 spacecraft in 1978.

Though it is naturally an act of heroism to fly to space, one should not forget the political and ideological aspects of Remek's mission, Sidlo indicates.

Remek was thoroughly selected and vetted to take part in the flight during the toughest Cold War era. Besides, he was sent to space in the year when his fellow countrymen commemorated the tragic tenth anniversary of the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops, Sidlo notes.

In other words, the man "who was willing to play a humiliating role of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's puppet" that was to bring joy and pride to the occupied Czechoslovakia watched by tens of thousands of Soviet troops, is to become the ambassador of the democratic Czech Republic to Moscow, Sidlo points out.

In view of this, all people who had to leave diplomacy after the collapse of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1989 over their past almost deserve pity. If Remek were appointed ambassador, it would be fair to invite them back to the diplomatic service, too, Sidlo writes.

On the other hand, Remek has already worked at the Czech embassy in Moscow.

He occupied the post of commercial counsellor in 2002-2004 and then Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) highly appreciated his work. If need be, Remek decorated his jacket with all Soviet orders and medals he received, including the highest order of the Hero of the Soviet Union, and he went to negotiate business on behalf of his new democratic homeland, Sidlo writes.

Consequently everything should be all right. The Czech Republic wants and needs to have good business relations with Russia that will not be disturbed by the symptoms of "pussyriotism" as Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas warned last autumn, Sidlo writes.

Necas then said support to the Russian activists from the Pussy Riot band, who were sent to prison, can threaten Czech exports to Russia.

In this respect, Remek seems to be an ideal candidate for a new ambassador to Moscow, Sidlo says.

"However, there is a difference between a certain level of pragmatism and surrender. The Czech Republic still has completely different interests than Russia, or it has been so in the past 23 years at least," Sidlo points out.

"The world has reportedly changed. But Vladimir Remek is the embodiment of such a twist that we might have hardly believed a couple of years ago," Sidlo writes in conclusion.

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