Prague, May 9 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman on Wednesday gave a speech in Russian at the celebration of Victory Day at the embassy of Russia in which he compared racial hatred, which motivated World War Two, to religious hatred one has to combat at present.
Zeman appreciated Czech-Russian relations, which also had some negative chapters.
He mentioned the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet troops in 1968 and called it a crime.
“World War Two was a war of racial hatred. Fascist Germany wanted to annihilate first all Jews, second all Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Serbs and so on,” Zeman said.
“At present, we are encountering a different kind of fight. This is religious hatred, which is old and tries to eliminate all infidels,” he added.
“This hatred must link us in the fight against Islamic fundamentalists and terrorism,” Zeman said.
He went on to speak about Czechoslovakia’s occupation in 1968.
“Naturally, these were bad events. There was the Cold War. There was the year 1968 and it was, of course, a big, tremendous mistake,” Zeman said.
“One has to admit the mistake or crime because if we admit it, we will also eliminate it,” he added.
Zeman said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed on starting the first session of the Czech-Russian discussion forum in early June.
“I firmly hope that within the forum, the archives relating to 1968 will be opened.”
The event was also attended by other Czech politicians, such as Zeman’s predecessor Vaclav Klaus, Communist (KSCM) chairman Vojtech Filip and former deputy head Josef Skala, anti-EU far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura and former Social Democrat industry and trade minister Jan Mladek. A number of diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Stephen King, along with war veterans also participated in the event.
In his address, Zeman talked about his well-known aversion to the anti-Russian economic sanctions and about bilateral relations.
“Sanctions do not help anything, only hampering economic exchange. I would like to turn this public appearance into an initiative of the Czech Republic within the EU,” he added.
Russian Ambassador to Prague Alexander Zmeyevsky said the joint victory over Nazism would always connect the Russian and Czech nations. He also thanked those who looked after the landmarks of the Red Army soldiers who died in the fights during the liberation of Czechoslovakia.
Zmeyevsky also talked about the current relations between the Czech Republic and Russia, based on pragmatism and respect. Despite the still valid anti-Russian sanctions, the economic relations were revived, he added.
On May 8 when the WWII’s end was celebrated in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in the world, Zeman attended a commemorative meeting at the Vitkov National Memorial in Prague. He appointed six new generals. Last year, Zeman took part neither in the ceremony at Vitkov nor in the banquet at the Russian embassy.
In the previous years, Zeman often appeared in the Victory celebrations at the Russian embassy. Five years ago, he attended it for the first time in his capacity as president.
Zeman skipped the Russian celebrations in the following two years and he accepted the invitation again two years ago. In his address in Russian, he called for joining forces against terrorism then.
Victory Day is celebrated in Russia on May 9, a day later than in the West. The Soviet (Red) Army liberated most of the territory of the former Czechoslovakia where some 140,000 Soviet soldiers fell.