Prague, May 11 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman left Prague earlier this evening for a six-day visit to China where he is to meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, address a conference on the Silk Road project and have talks with Chinese bodies and business representatives.
Zeman’s return from China is scheduled for the night to Thursday, May 18.
Only then he wants to solve the tense situation on the domestic political scene that escalated in recent days over his reluctance to dismiss Finance Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) at the request PM Bohuslav Sobotka’s (Social Democrats, CSSD) addressed to him last Friday.
Originally, the political delegation accompanying Zeman was to include six ministers but Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec and Health Minister Miloslav Ludvik (all CSSD) have cancelled their participation, citing the domestic political turbulences.
In the Zeman-led delegation flying to China, the three ministers have been replaced by their respective deputies.
The delegation has also been joined by Industry and Trade Minister Jiri Havlicek (CSSD), Transport Minister Dan Tok and Regional Development Minister Karla Slechtova (both ANO).
Zeman will also be accompanied by several dozens of businesspeople, with former prime minister Petr Necas and the richest Czech, entrepreneur Petr Kellner being among them.
Apart from Beijing, Zeman will visit Nanjing and Shanghai.
The Czech delegation will be flown to China by two government planes. The other one, with businesspeople and journalists aboard, will take off from the Prague-Kbely military airport at 20:00.
The costs of Zeman’s visit are estimated at 5.6 million crowns, not including the transport and the protection of the constitutional officials.
Czech Football Association (FACR) head Miroslav Pelta was also to go to China with Zeman in order to have talks with representatives of Chinese football. However, Pelta faces fraud accusations and was taken into custody last week.
Zeman visited China twice already in his capacity as president, in 2014 and 2015. He also met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Prague last spring.