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Foreign minister apologises for likening Dalai Lama to Henlein

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Prague, Nov 1 (CTK) – Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) apologised for having compared a meeting with the Tibetan Dalai Lama with the reception of interwar irredentist Sudeten German leader Konrad Henlein earlier on Tuesday, Zaoralek has twitted.

Zaoralek said he wanted to show how China saw the official meetings with the Dalai Lama.

Zaoralek told journalists he respected a country resenting someone meeting an official representative of a former government-in-exile.

“This is as if someone were meeting Konrad Henlein from the Sudetenland in interwar Czechoslovakia when there was the official government,” Zaoralek said.

Henlein headed the irredentist Sudeten German Party (SDP) and committed a suicide after the war.

“I used an unsuitable comparison. I realise that it crossed the bounds,” Zaoralek said.

“Using the extreme example, I wanted to explain how China can see the official reception of the Dalai Lama,” he added.

In October, Culture Minister Daniel Herman (KDU-CSL) and other politicians met the Dalai Lama. This caused a rift in the government because most of the cabinet, including Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD), distanced themselves from the meeting, arguing that it might worsen Czech-Chinese relations.

President Milos Zeman, Sobotka and the heads of the two houses of parliament, Milan Stech (Senate) and Jan Hamacek (Chamber of Deputies), then wrote an official statement declaring that the Czech Republic still insisted on its one-China policy.

China calls the Dalai Lama, 81, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, a separatist who wants Tibet to cede from China.

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