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Zeman to pay his last foreign visit in office to Slovakia

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Prague, Nov 30 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman will leave for Slovakia on December 12 to pay his last foreign visit in office and he will meet his Slovak counterpart Andrej Kiska, Presidential Office foreign section head Rudolf Jindrak told CTK on Thursday.

This will be a polite visit at the end of this election term, he added.

Zeman is not likely to meet Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-Social Democracy, Smer-SD) since he would not be in Slovakia during Zeman’s visit.

Besides, Zeman will meet his Hungarian counterpart Janos Ader at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, on December 5.

“The main sense of the visit [to Slovakia] is symbolic, to follow the tradition,” Jindrak said.

Zeman’s predecessors in the post, presidents Vaclav Havel (1989-2003) and Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013), also paid their last foreign visits in office to the neighbouring Slovakia. It formed a joint state with the Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993.

Zeman will stay in Slovakia for one day only due to the post-election situation in the Czech Republic. Next day, on December 13, he is to appoint a new minority government of Andrej Babis, chairman of the election-winning ANO movement.

This is also why no ministers will be in Zeman’s delegation in Bratislava.

Zeman’s office originally planned a meeting with Fico as well. However, Fico, along with outgoing Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD). will leave for Paris to attend a climate summit convoked by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Zeman will be welcomed with traditional honours in Bratislava.

At his following meeting with Kiska, both statements might talks about the joint history of Czechs and Slovaks in one state and the upcoming 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s birth.

Both presidents are also expected to debate the future of the European Union, the Visegrad Four (V4) Group, comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, and economic cooperation. They may touch upon the establishment of the Czech House in Bratislava as well.

Next Tuesday, Zeman will meet Ager during his state visit to the Czech Republic.

Zeman is thereby to complete his meetings with the neighbouring countries’ heads. He will not have bilateral talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda, but they met at the V4 summit in Hungary in October.

Ader, accompanied by his wife in Prague, will have a tete-a-tete meeting with Zeman, followed by an official luncheon with dozens do guests and he will also visit parliament.

Sobotka is to receive Ader, while Babis will be invited to the state luncheon with him.

Zeman and Ader are likely to discuss energy industry, bilateral and regional issues, economic cooperation and the EU’s future.

Ader will visit St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle to look at the Sword of Saint Stephen from the 10th century, according to historians, which is one of the most valuable items of the cathedral’s treasure.

On Wednesday, Ader will leave for Karlovy Vary, a spa town in west Bohemia, to meet local self-rule representatives and look round the town. He will also lay flowers at the monument to Hungarian poet Janos Arany (1817-1882).

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