Friday, 18 August 2017

HN: Chinese protocol may rule at Czech Presidential Office

ČTK |
12 December 2016

Prague, Dec 9 (CTK) - The Chinese protocol might rule at the Czech Presidential Office after its protocol department head Jindrich Forejt is replaced with Miroslav Sklenar who comes from a Chinese firm, Petr Honzejk writes in daily Hospodarke noviny (HN) Friday.
On Tuesday, a video compromising Forejt appeared and he resigned immediately afterward for "personal and health reasons." Several hours later, Sklenar, who headed the protocol department under president Vaclav Havel (1989-2003), returned there from the post of the foreign affairs and protocol section director of the China Energy Company Limited (CEFC) branch, Honzejk says.
He points out that the CEFT has long stood close to the Presidential Office and its board chairman Ye Jianmin has been President Milos Zeman's adviser for two and a half years.
Sklenar wants to "stabilise" the Prague Castle's protocol. "One need not be paranoid, to be on alert," Honzejk says.
Speculations emerged, saying Forejt was a security risk. Drug consumption is undoubtedly a risk (if the white powder he is sniffing in a print screen from the compromising video is really a drug), Honzejk writes.
Forejt could be a target of blackmailing and it is rightful to ask why the counter-intelligence service (BIS) and the National Security Office (NBU) did not warn of this risk, he adds.
Nevertheless, Forejt is gone and Sklenar comes to his post from the Chinese CEFC, Honzejk says, asking whether Sklenar can also pose a security risk.
The 2015 annual BIS report points to the Chinese diplomatic, intelligence and economic entities intensively trying to expand their influence in Czech politics and economy.
Without indicating a possible connection between the CEFC and the Chinese secret service, the Chinese influence is nicely expanding in 2016, too, as the CEFC board chairman is Zeman's adviser and a man coming from this firm will decide whom he will let meet the president, Honzejk adds.
On Wednesday only, Presidential Office head Vratislav Mynar claimed that Sklenar would not become a new protocol head, while, on Thursday, Sklenar received the post. People in the intelligence services, where a certain paranoia level belongs to their professional preconditions, have now issues to ponder upon, for instance, why someone cared so much for Forejt's removal, Honzejk writes.
"This whole story has an ironic covert sense. Former BIS chief Jiri Lang, under whose leadership this secret service warned of the influence of Chinese structures in the Czech Republic, became a new NBU head on Thursday. Now, he will be in charge of security vetting of the new Presidential Office's protocol head, who comes from the CEFC. We are tensely awaiting its result," Honzejk concludes in HN.

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