Thursday, 22 March 2018

HN: Deplorable speech shows Zeman's persisting vengefulness

12 March 2018

Prague, March 9 (CTK) - Milos Zeman did not manage to suppress his nature of a revengeful boor even during his ceremonial inauguration for the second term as Czech president on Thursday, Jan Stetka writes in Hospodarske noviny (HN) on Friday, branding Zeman's speech at the event "boring, haughty and embarrassing."

If Zeman had exceptionally decided not to impress the audience by speaking offhand, if he had written his speech beforehand, he might have recognised in time how deplorable it was, Stetka writes.

At the beginning of his speech, Zeman endlessly spoke on how he fulfilled his promises in his first term of office. However, he did not utter a single word on the majority of the promises he made after his first election in 2013 and which he never fulfilled, Stetka writes.

What about Zeman's previous vow that he would "calm down and stabilise the political scene"? He did not mention it in his Thursday speech, otherwise he would have had to admit that the Czech Republic, short of a standard government and with non-system and extremist parties in power, is more politically unstable than five years ago, Stetka writes.

The instability is higher now even though Zeman visited the leader of China to learn a stabilisation lesson from him, Stetka writes, alluding to Zeman's trip from 2014, when he said he had come to China to learn how to stabilise society.

Zeman's another previous vow, that he would turn the presidential office into a neutral soil for a dialogue of all parliamentary parties, has not been fulfilled either, Stetka continues, referring to Zeman's open display of resentment and intolerance towards then Social Democrat (CSSD) leader Bohuslav Sobotka at their press conference at Prague Castle last year.

Zeman devoted as many as ten minutes of his solemn speech to analysing the ultra-right Workers' Party of Social Justice, before banally concluding that the party is not represented in parliament and that "he who supports neo-Nazis is a neo-Nazi himself," Stetka writes.

If this conclusion were made by Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the much-respected first Czechoslovak president to whose legacy Zeman claims to adhere, he would surely arrive at a further conclusion, which is that the president should not attend a congress of a party whose leader downplays the suffering of the Roma in a wartime concentration camp, Stetka writes, alluding to Zeman's visit to a recent national congress of the far-right xenophobic Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) of Tomio Okamura.

Some time ago, Zeman entrusted the government-forming talks to Andrej Babis, a prosecuted billionaire founder of a media empire whom he labelled untrustworthy in the past, Stetka continues.

When returning home from his Chinese trip in 2014, Zeman used a plane of Petr Kellner, the richest Czech whom he labelled a fraudster in the past, Stetka writes.

Despite all this and despite the presumption of innocence principle, which he repeatedly worshiped on many previous occasions, Zeman preferred attacking businessman and the Economia publisher owner Zdenek Bakala in his inauguration speech on Thursday. Furthermore, he named some media he considers untrustworthy in his live-broadcast speech, Stetka writes.

In doing so, Zeman applied the same method which the Communist regime used to announce who was newly banned and should no longer be spoken about, Stetka says.

In reaction to Zeman's aggressive lash-out, some guests, mostly lawmakers, walked out of the inauguration room in a gesture of responsibility and common sense. Zeman had turned the historical Vladislav Hall, one of the country's most sacred premises, into a propaganda centre. The only appropriate reaction to his rudeness was to leave the room, Stetka writes.

Only after impertinently settling his accounts with real and potential opponents, Zeman finally focused on what presidents are expected to speak about at inaugurations. However, he did not come up with any surprising ambitious foreign or domestic political goal of his, Stetka writes.

The plans he supported included the introduction of a general referendum and the direct election of mayors and regional governors. If he pushes this through, Czechia might sink to the level of the countries with home guards and with omnipotent "gubernators" of the Russian type, Stetka writes.

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