Prague, Nov 19 (CTK) – EU diplomacy head Federica Mogherini has not paid her originally planned visit to Prague yesterday also because some Czech politicians automatically link Islam and refugees with terrorism without distinguishing between the migrants, Czech Radio (CRo) said yesterday, citing a high EU source.
Diplomatic sources told CRo that Mogherini’s visit was planned until its cancellation on Wednesday evening.
The official reason for the postponement of her trip is a leg injury of Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD), which has been known for more days now, however, CRo said.
According to CRo’s source, the atmosphere in the Czech Republic is “not favourable for conducting a debate on foreign policy.”
This atmosphere played a role in Mogherini’s decision to cancel her visit, apart from Zaoralek’s indisposition, mainly in a situation where Mogherini was to meet President Milos Zeman, the source said.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the visit had only been postponed.
Czech politicians’ attitude to the migration crisis was no reason to cancel the visit, he added.
“I have not seen any reservations about the Czech Republic’s government to this effect,” Sobotka told journalists.
“According to my information, the trip was not cancelled. It was postponed on the basis of a request by Zaoralek who is now ill,” he added.
He said he fully understood the cancellation of Zaoralek’s programme because he was having serious health problems and he should recover.
The Czech diplomacy will look for a new date for the visit, Sobotka said.
On November 17, which is the Czech national holiday marking the anniversary of a Nazi crackdown on universities in 1939 and the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Zeman addressed a public meeting of the Bloc Against Islam, an extra-parliamentary group that is hostile to refugees and their acceptance, and that calls for all Muslims to be expelled from the country.
Zeman said those whose views on the migration crisis differ [from the pro-refugee ones] should not be labelled as Islamophobists, racists or fascists.
In reaction to Zeman, Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (CSSD) said Zeman, with his speech, supported hateful groups and helped create conditions for the rise of fascism in the Czech society.
The Foreign Ministry told CTK yesterday that Zaoralek asked for the cancellation of Mogherini’s visit over his temporary health indisposition. He suffered a leg injury at the weekend.
Irena Valentova, from the ministry’s press department, said the schedule of the visit was cancelled gradually, a part of it on Wednesday morning already.
A new date of the visit will be sought now, Valentova said.
She said Zaoralek has also cancelled his schedule by the end of the week. On Friday, he will not attend the cabinet meeting, nor will he meet his Tunisian counterpart, Taieb Baccouche.
Zeman recently spoke about the threatening introduction of the Islamic sharia law in the Czech Republic and said most refugees do not deserve compassion.
In October, his statements were labelled xenophobic by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Foreign Ministry officially announced the cancellation of Mogherini’s visit on Wednesday evening only.
According to CTK’s information, such approach is unusual, also because Mohgerini was also to meet other politicians than Zaoralek in Prague.
Some diplomats say her trip might have been cancelled for more reasons, including the consequences of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.
Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told CTK that he would not react to anonymous sources.
He said Zeman clearly defends the interests and safety of Czech citizens.
“People’s safety has been endangered by those who promote unlimited acceptance of migrants,” Ovcacek added.
Mogherini, who is EC vice-president and the EU’s high representative for foreign and security policy, was also to meet other Czech leaders in Prague, including Sobotka and Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO).
They were to discuss terrorism, migration and other issues.
In the afternoon, Mogherini was to discuss the planned European security strategy at a public meeting co-organised by Charles University.