Sunday, 17 December 2017

Czech leaders standing by their statement on China

ČTK |
2 November 2016

Prague, Nov 1 (CTK) - Czech top leaders agreed on Tuesday that their procedure in making a statement on relations with China, fiercely attacked as servile by the opposition, was correct, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) has said.

The statement was issued last Tuesday after Culture Minister Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL) and KDU-CSL chairman and other politicians met the Tibetan Dalai Lama.

It was signed by President Milos Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the heads of the two houses of parliament, Milan Stech (Senate) and Jan Hamacek (Chamber of Deputies), all three from the CSSD.

The four politicians discussed foreign policy at Prague Castle on Tuesday. Also present was Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky and Zaoralek who said relations with China were only taken up marginally.

The statement speaks about respect for "the territorial integrity of the People' s Republic of China of which Tibet is a part."

The political leaders stated it would be unfortunate if the meeting of several politicians with the Dalai Lama were comprehended as a change in the Czech official one-China policy.

Zaoralek said he would want the minutes from the government meeting held two years ago at which its members had agreed not to meet the Dalai Lama to be published at the next government meeting on Wednesday.

Zaoralek said in the past days Herman had violated the promise.

Herman has denied promising anything of this sort. He said he had welcomed Zaoralek's demand that the minutes be presented.

Zaoralek told journalists he had announced to Sobotka that he would want the government to return to the government meeting held two years ago, at which the relations with China were discussed.

"I have asked Sobotka to bring to the light the minutes from what happened at that time so that we could see it with our own eyes, if this exists," Zaoralek said.

Herman has denied the existence of such a deal.

Earlier on Tuesday, he twitted that he welcomed Zaoralek's effort to present the minutes from the government meeting.

"The truth will at least surface," Herman said.

"We confirmed [on Tuesday] that our policy was right and we cannot see any problem in it," Zaoralek said.

Zaoralek told journalists he respected a country resenting someone meeting an official representative of a former government-in-exile.

"This is as if someone were meeting Konrad Henlein from the Sudetenland in interwar Czechoslovakia when there was the official government," Zaoralek said.

Henlein headed the irredentist Sudeten German Party (SDP).

"We, Czechs, would have probably resented it, too. We know pretty well that the 14th Dalai Lama is a very respectable personality who has 100 times proclaimed that he has no political ambitions and that he is a mere monk," Zaoralek said.

"Nevertheless, the Chinese side sees it differently," he added.

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