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Most rectors to boycott October 28 national holiday

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Prague, Oct 20 (CTK) – Most Czech university rectors will not attend the state holiday ceremony on October 28 at which state decorations will be awarded by President Milos Zeman, they have told CTK.

Some have excused themselves as they have other duties, others mind Zeman not having invited all of them.

Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said Zeman was considering not inviting the rebellious rectors next year.

Like in the past two years, Zeman did not invite Masaryk University rector Mikulas Bek, with whom he had disputes in the past.

This week, Bek organised the raising of Tibetan flags at university buildings in protest against a statement by Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and the heads of the two houses of parliament which speaks about respect for “the territorial integrity of the People’ s Republic of China of which Tibet is a part.”

The statement reacted to Tibetan Dalai Lama’ having met Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) which caused China’s protest.

Along with rectors, MEP Jiri Pospisil (TOP 09) excused himself from the ceremony due to his disagreement with Zeman’s foreign policy.

He said Zeman was pushing the Czech Republic eastwards.

“I am also afraid that I could witness the decoration of some controversial persons such as former Communist minister Miroslav Toman,” Pospisil added.

Toman was agriculture minister in the Communist government in the 1980s. Zeman bestowed the Medal of Merit on him a year ago.

Charles University rector Tomas Zima was invited, but he will be absent from the ceremony as he is abroad until October 30.

Most of the other university rectors will not be at the ceremony, either. Some of them say that they disagree with Zeman not having invited some of their colleagues.

Last year, Zeman did not invite Bek and rector of South Bohemia University Libor Grubhoffer whose term expired earlier this year.

Grubhoffer’s successor Tomas Machula has excused himself from the ceremony, university spokeswoman Dagmar Dvorakova said.

Last year, too, most rectors refused to come to the award-giving ceremony in protest against Zeman not having invited the two rectors.

“Due to the apparent disrespect for the national holiday, Zeman is considering not inviting the rectors who will not attend the celebration of October 28, 1918, next year,” Ovcacek said.

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