Prague, Nov 23 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman has changed, he has lost scruples and acts without all restraint due to a long-term use of addictive substances, TOP 09 honorary chairman Karel Schwarzenberg, who turns 80 in December, has said in an interview with CTK.
Schwarzenberg criticised Zeman for his statements during his ongoing visit to Russia.
He also rejected Zeman’s assurance that he is not leading any campaign for his re-election as head of state, pointing to his tours of the regions.
Schwarzenberg, former foreign minister, senator and TOP 09 leader in 2009-2015 who was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the October general election, said he considered former ambassador Pavel Fischer a suitable presidential candidate.
In reaction to the speculations that emerged about Zeman’s poor health of late, Schwarzenberg said he hoped this would influence voters’ decision-making in the January presidential election.
“I have known him (Zeman) for 20 years and he has changed a lot. Every physician would confirm that a long term use of addictive substances removes restraint,” Schwarzenberg said, adding that he considers this a major problem.
Schwarzenberg, who was running against Zeman in the presidential run-off vote in 2013, criticised the president’s behaviour during his visit to Russia.
“To refuse interpreting with a remark that Czech journalists should learn Russia is like to return to the normalisation era (restoration of hard-core communist rule after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion),” Schwarzenberg said, commenting on Zeman’s behaviour during a press conference in Russia.
Schwarzenberg called Zeman’s comparison of the economic importance of Russia and France for Czech exporters ridiculous. Zeman mentioned this in connection with the size of the business delegation accompanying him in Russia. He said while 14 Czech businesspeople had accompanied him to France, the delegation to Russia was ten times bigger.
“Our export to France is much higher than to the Russian Federation. The statement that Russia is more important to us is ridiculous,” Schwarzenberg said.
France is the fourth most important export market for the Czech Republic in terms of volume, while Russia is the 13th, according to the data from the Foreign Ministry.
Zeman’s statements in Russia might help him in his effort to be re-elected head of state, Schwarzenberg said.
“Both old adherents of Russia in the Communist Party (KSCM) and Moscow’s new friends from the Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) and admirers of (Vladimir) Putin’s regime will vote for him. The numerous Russian ‘trolls’ working in the Czech Republic will def help him, too,” Schwarzenberg told CTK.