Prague, Jan 9 (CTK) – The Czechoslovak non-communist ministers who submitted their resignation in 1948 were stupid and reform Communist leader Alexander Dubcek chickened out of horror in 1968 after the Soviet invasion, Czech President Milos Zeman said in his speech at a ceremony at Prague Castle on Tuesday.
It was the then Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev who enabled the existence of the free Czechoslovakia after 1989 (collapse of the communist regime), Zeman said at a meeting opening the celebrations of the 100-year anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s birth and 25 years of the establishment of the Czech Republic.
New Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico (Smer-Social Democracy) attended the event.
In his speech, Zeman commented on the significant milestones of the Czechoslovak and Czech history in the 20th century.
“Had it not been for several stupid ministers who tendered their resignation, then (Communist PM and later president) Klement Gottwald could not have argued with a constitutional character of this communist coup,” Zeman said, commenting on the events in February 1948 when the Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia.
Zeman also touched upon the situation after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed the Prague Spring communist-led reform movement.
One should think hard about why there was only one courageous man, Frantisek Kriegel, among the then political elites after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops in 1968 and “why all the others chickened out of horror,” Zeman said.
Kriegel (1908-1979), member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia’s presidium, was the sole of the top representatives deported to Moscow after the invasion who refused to sign the Moscow Protocol dictate in the Kremlin.
Zeman said their consent to the occupation had not helped the representatives.
“First, these idols were given the post of the Federal Assembly (Communist parliament) chairman, then they only went down to the post of ambassador to Turkey and then not even that,” Zeman said hinting at Dubcek.
Dubcek (1921-1992), one of the main representatives of the reform stream within then Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC) in 1968, resigned as the KSC first secretary after the revival process was suppressed and later was expelled from the party. He returned to political life after the 1989 Velvet Revolution and became the speaker of Czechoslovak parliament. He succumbed to the injuries he suffered in a road accident in 1992.
Zeman also said it was not the Charter 77 dissident movement, but the Soviet leader Gorbachev who had caused the collapse of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. “I think we should express our respect for him,” he said.
The independent Czech Republic has lasted longer than the interwar Czechoslovakia, Zeman pointed out.
“Like Slovakia, we can rejoice at being a safe and prosperous country… There is almost nothing threatening us if our own stupidity did not allow us to place people in our territory who do no belong there,” he said.
Fico in his speech appreciated the success of both countries and their excellent relations.
He said he respected Zeman for “saying what he wants.” “You have a president who exactly knows that the world has four cardinal points,” Fico said.
He also said he was Zeman’s debtor and wished him that “all his personal ambitions were fulfilled to the full extent.”
Zeman is defending his post in the direct presidential election the first round of which is held on Friday and Saturday.