Saturday, 21 October 2017

Zeman in press: PM's stance on migration threatens Czech security

ČTK |
27 November 2015

Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) - Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka's stance on the migrant crisis threatens the security of the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman told yesterday's issue of daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), calling the current migrant wave an organised invasion.
Zeman also reacted to Sobotka's criticism of his speech during the celebrations in Prague-Albertov on November 17, a national holiday marking the student demonstrations against the Nazi occupation in 1939 and against the Communist regime in 1989, when he appeared side by side with the Bloc against Islam chairman Martin Konvicka on the stage.
The organisers of the event decided who would stand next to the president on the stage, Zeman argued, adding that he is "no censor."
Zeman said at the Czech military command's meeting on Tuesday a danger had approached the Czech border. It is naive to believe that there is no link between the current migrant wave and terrorism, he added.
In reaction to it, Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said the danger was posed by terrorists, not refugees who must be helped.
Such a stance is dangerous for the Czech Republic "by its hesitation, indecisiveness and a number of other conciliatory and seemingly humanitarian gestures, which in my opinion underestimate the real danger because I unlike him [Sobotka] consider the migrant crisis an invasion," Zeman told MfD.
Islamist State is undoubtedly sending jihadists to the migrants' flow, which the recent terrorist attacks in Paris have confirmed, Zeman said.
Sobotka told Radio Impuls that he and the whole coalition government were dealing with the migrant crisis and the security situation in the Czech Republic very intensively.
"The government has had the situation in control all the time during the migrant wave. The prime minister and the interior minister along with the BIS counter-intelligence service's chief are assessing current information every day," Sobotka said.
He has convoked a special government meeting for Saturday to discuss the security situation in the Czech Republic.
"Zeman did not criticise the government security measures at the recent meeting of the National Security Council that he attended," Sobotka added.
Last week, Sobotka said Zeman had joined populists who sponged on the fear of Islamic State and the migrant crisis when he had made a speech standing at the side of the extremist Bloc against Islam's representatives on November 17.
"I am an old man who with a smile ignores the boyish pranks like this. Nevertheless, I would like the prime minister to understand that I, on the contrary, called for tolerance, dialogue and respect for different opinions at Albertov," Zeman told MfD.
Sobotka insists on his view that the president should not appear on one stage with extremists and xenophobes.
"Even a directly elected politician should not only passively accept the prevailing moods in society, but he should actively defend the truth as well as moral and humanistic principles regardless of whether it is popular or not at the moment," Sobotka told CTK.
"I will have patience with the president as I have had it in the past two years. Though we have different views of some issues, I will not argue with him via the media," he added.
Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) criticised Zeman's attacks on Sobotka in the media. "President Milos Zeman is inciting citizens to stand up against Sobotka and the government at the time that we must, on the contrary, unite and not seek pretexts for attacks and personal insults," Stech said yesterday in reaction to Zeman's interview with MfD.
Stech also questioned Zeman saying he did not know Konvicka and his racist statements before, and he called it expedient.
Zeman said he had not studied the Bloc against Islam thoroughly and that he had learnt only recently about Konvicka's statements on "mincing Muslims into meat and bone meal" and detaining them in concentration camps.
Zeman called such statements "undoubtedly extreme and unacceptable." However, if it is not put in such extreme terms, everybody has the right to criticise any religion, he added.
Deputy PM, Finance Minister and ANO chairman Andrej Babis also criticised Zeman's statements about Sobotka since "this is polarising society" as well his connection with Konvicka on November 17. He said Zeman does not need Konvicka to increase his popularity.
"I think that he [Zeman] has been used or abused by these mini-parties that are attempting to stir up hateful moods," Babis said.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) reiterated on Twitter that "it is not fortunate if the head of state and representatives of fascistoid vociferators are standing on one stage." The government has coped with the migrant crisis well and the prime minister has been managing the matter actively since the beginning, he added.
On November 18, Konvicka was accused on inciting hatred of Muslims over his statements on Facebook, which the police qualified as a crime since he used a publicly accessible web network. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in prison.
Zeman said, however, the current disputes should not influence his relations with Sobotka.
"Politicians should get along well no matter what they think of one another as in both cases they were elected legitimately and democratically in free and secret ballot," Zeman pointed out.
Sobotka said previously he would not like to interrupt communication with the Presidential Office due to his disputes with Zeman.
"We have set with the president regular, very intensive communication and the communication will continue irrespective of whether we fully agree or disagree on all issues," Sobotka said.

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