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Respekt: Minister gives free hand to some Czech ambassadors

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Prague, Aug 22 (CTK) – Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek shows little interest in some regions of the world and he gives a free hand to these Czech ambassadors, which is hardly an advantage for the Czech Republic, with the most striking example being Syria, weekly Respekt has written in its latest issue.

Czech policy towards Syria is absolutely in the hands of the ambassador in Damascus, Eva Filipi. When commenting on the Syrian crisis, Zaoralek uses the arguments of his subordinate Filipi who takes an accommodating stance on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who has been accused of war crimes, Respekt writes.

When the office of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka asked the Foreign Ministry to prepare the official Czech position towards Syria before Sobotka’s talks with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson last year, Filipi worked out the report and Zaoralek had no ambition to revise it in any way, Respekt says.

It writes that the combination of a weak foreign minister and a strong president, Milos Zeman, led to the situation in which some diplomats perform their posts merely formally, for example Vladimir Remek in Moscow.

Remek was not present to the meeting Vladimir Putin had with his counterpart Zeman in Russia, in which Zeman’s aide Martin Nejedly, a man with an obscure business history, took part instead, Respekt writes.

It was Nejedly who marginalised Remek’s position and replaced him, negotiating about major issues related to the Czech foreign policy in Russia, the magazine writes.

Remek decided to leave his diplomatic post at the end of the year at his own request, Respekt writes.

According to Respekt’s information, Nejedly met one of key foreign policy aides to Putin in Moscow and had talks with representatives of the Rosatom nuclear state-run corporation earlier this year.

Since the Czech ambassador or his deputy was absent from Nejedly’s meetings, there is no written record of some of the talks led by Nejedly, which is a situation the foreign minister should not have tolerated. But Zaoralek always prefers his party, the Social Democrats (CSSD), to foreign policy, Respekt writes.

Not paying enough attention to diplomacy, Zaoralek allowed the formation of parallel structures, which perform foreign policy outside the control of the Foreign Ministry, the government and parliament, Respekt writes.

Unlike previous foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Zaoralek has never had such a sharp conflict with Zeman that would block the appointment of new ambassadors, Respekt writes.

Like under the previous governments, several ambassadors were nominated politically, but none of the cases were scandalous, the weekly writes.

Tomas Podivinsky, who was a member of Zeman’s caretaker cabinet, became ambassador in Berlin, but he worked in diplomacy even before.

Interior Ministry senior official Tomas Haisman, in charge of immigration affairs, is to be ambassador in Kosovo and Petr Kynstetr, the long-term head of the Chamber of Deputies office, will head the diplomatic mission in Ireland. However, both of them have a civil service career.

Respekt says the only case that threatened to turn into an international scandal did not result in an appointment: Zeman wanted Antonin Murgas, who was closely connected with the pre-Maidan pro-Russian Ukraine, to be ambassador in Kiev, but it turned out that Murgas probably would not be granted a security clearance.

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