Monday, 23 October 2017

President Zeman not to apologise for words about Crimea

ČTK |
13 October 2017

Prague, Oct 12 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman will not apologise for his statements about the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula because he only expressed his opinion and he never apologises for his opinions, he said in his regular Thursday night interview programme on Barrandov TV channel.

In his speech in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday, Zeman called the Russian annexation of Crimea irreversible - a "fait accompli." He recommended that Russia and Ukraine agree on compensation and said the anti-Russian sanctions are not working.

Ukrainian diplomacy said Zeman's proposals were absolutely unacceptable. The Czech government and Senate strongly criticised him for these statements. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Zeman had no mandate to make such an official speech in the PACE.

Zeman told Barrandov TV that Ukraine cannot demand an official apology since he clearly said this was his personal opinion. He said Ukraine might of course demand that he apologise, which he would reject as he always did in such cases.

Zeman has been known for his sharp words and support for Moscow and Beijing.

Zeman said in the TV interview that he repeatedly called Crimea's annexation unlawful in the past.

"But what is the crucial thing? Crimea is in Russian possession and I cannot imagine any Russian government that would give up Crimea," Zeman said.

He repeatedly argued that at attempt to return Crimea to Ukraine might lead to a big war, against which former German president Joachim Gauck warned.

But the website of Czech daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote that Gauck's office said that Gauck had not said anything like this.

Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek claimed that Gauck warned against a European war due to the return of Crimea to Ukraine in a discussion during his visit in Prague in 2014, the server writes.

Gauck's office head Johannes Sturm said Gauck did not make any such statement during the discussion, Lidovky.cz writes.

In the past, Zeman used quotes that proved to be wrong but he refused to admit it. He for example claimed that Czech democratic journalist Ferdinand Peroutka who is a concentration camp survivor showed admiration for Adolf Hitler, which all Czech experts dismissed. Zeman refused to apologise or admit his mistake and Peroutka's heir sued him.

In his TV interview, Zeman said the threat that U.S. President Donald Trump makes to North Korea over its nuclear tests may seem ridiculous rather than efficient.

Zeman said a commando that would kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un could solve the situation. He said North Korea is an atrocious regime that cannot be suppressed by force.

In an United Nations address, Trump threaten to destroy North Korea unless it stops provoking with nuclear and missile tests.

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