Monday, 20 November 2017

HN: Kmoníček as new Czech ambassador to USA is defeat of ČSSD

ČTK |
26 September 2016

Prague, Sept 23 (CTK) - The nomination of Hynek Kmonicek, a man of President Milos Zeman, as Czech ambassador to the USA is a defeat of PM Bohuslav Sobotka's Social Democrats (CSSD), who have preferred peace in the party to the public interest of the Czech Republic, Petr Fischer writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) Friday.
Zeman has an unbelievable tendency to say inappropriate things in inappropriate moments. Usually this seems to be deliberate strategy of provocation on his part. Now and then, however, his misplaced utterances, which border on boasting, backfire on him and can no longer be called strategy but rather imprudence or diplomatic silliness, Fischer writes.
This is also the case of Zeman's recent statement that Kmonicek, his foreign political adviser, will be the new Czech ambassador to the USA. A reasonable politician would never dare announce a candidate's name before the host country grants agrement to them. Zeman does not have Washington's agrement for Kmonicek for the time being, Fischer writes.
Moreover, it is known that Zeman has been ostracising the U.S. ambassador to Prague, Andrew Schapiro, for many months now because Schapiro dared to criticise his visit to Moscow where other statespersons refused to go due to the Russian annexation of Crimea, Fischer writes.
It is naive to believe that the USA will "give [its agrement for] Kmonicek to Zeman for free, since in diplomacy, too, the practice of debt repaying prevails, Fischer writes.
The U.S. administration does not consider Zeman its good friend, though Zeman might have had the opposite impression during his photo session with the Obama couple this week (but once again, no one invited him to the White House), Fischer continues.
The opposite is true. Zeman's xenophobic statements on migration and his anti-EU drive go counter to the ideas promoted by Barack Obama. That is why the USA does not have the slightest reason to hurry with approving Kmonicek's installation and it can still make it difficult for Czech diplomacy in this respect. After all, the U.S. presidential election has drawn nearer, a new administration will be formed, there will be no time..., Fischer writes.
Czech diplomacy, headed by Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD), is to blame for the problem. No one has opposed Zeman's choice of the new ambassador, though it was evident that a nominee chosen by the cabinet would have won Washington's support more easily and that Kmonicek takes his job at the Czech Presidential Office as a means to reach the post in the USA and a revenge for being previously sent as ambassador to the too remote Australia, Fischer writes.
Zaoralek and Sobotka gave in to Zeman because they did not want to clash with him before the October regional and Senate elections and did not want him to split the CSSD once again and harm it in voters' eyes, Fischer writes.
Really, Zeman, in his capacity as president since early 2013, has lashed out at the CSSD only minimally, being almost loyal to it, compared with his previous approach. As a result, the CSSD rewarded him by nodding to Kmonicek's ambassadorial nomination. Nevertheless, Kmonicek's "arriving" in the USA may take a rather long time, Fischer writes.
This alone is a problem that Zaoralek and Sobotka should have prevented. Above all, however, they should not have given up their claim on filling the Washington post so smoothly in a situation where the government and the president's political stances on important issues differ (except for their shared trend to push the reality of the migrant crisis beyond the Czech borders), Fischer writes.
By no means should Zaoralek and Sobotka have exchanged the claim for the CSSD's internal peace, he says.
The interests of the Czech Republic are far broader than those of Zaoralek, Sobotka and the CSSD. The striking of a political deal that gives the ambassadorial post to an unrespected and unpopular man of Zeman is not a crime but a political gamble that puts the Czech Republic at risk, Fischer writes.
Politics is a game of interests in which personal and party motivations and the service to the public are inter-twinned and must be kept balanced. In the case of Kmonicek's nomination, public service was thrown aside. This is a failure of the whole executive power, not only the president, Fischer writes.
It is another piece of evidence proving that no "Czech foreign policy" exists. If it existed, it could never be so easily steamrolled by the vain Zeman and his men on the one hand, and the overcautious quitters from the CSSD on the other, Fischer concludes.

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