Prague, July 13 (CTK) – Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) does not promote any active foreign policy and the main ability of his seven deputies is that they have no opinion about any foreign affair, Ondrej Kundra writes in weekly Respekt yesterday.
Zaoralek was afraid to present too strong pro-Western views that are rather unpopular among the CSSD before the Social Democrat election congress held in March 2015, at which he was defending the post of one of the party’s deputy heads. He did not turn any braver after he defended the post, however, Kundra writes.
Moreover, he is surrounded by timid diplomats and a bland group of his party colleagues, Kundra says.
When the charismatic and eloquent Zaoralek took up the post of foreign minister in early 2014, his performance was a pleasant surprise, Kundra writes.
Faced with the aggressive politics of Russia, Zaoralek clearly sided with the West, he was active and issued clear statements. He started working on several good foreign policy concepts, such as the security strategy, Kundra writes.
When still in opposition, the left-wing Zaoralek had several revolutionary ideas, but as minister he calmed down: he has not changed the traditional Czech support for Israel as markedly as it was expected and he has not caused any conflicts with the trans-Atlantic allies, whom he sharply criticised from the opposition benches before 2014, Kundra writes.
But Zaoralek had given up effort at promoting an active foreign policy. He has been unable to find good candidates to head the strategic embassies in Kiev and Beijing. In this field, he has been overshadowed by President Milos Zeman who has been pushing problematic figures to the posts in Ukraine and China, Kundra writes.
He says though Zaoralek presents himself as a politician supporting Ukraine, he failed to prevent the blocking of the EU-Ukraine association agreement in Czech parliament.
Zaoralek has not been dealing with other problems either, such as the large number of staff of the Russian Embassy in Prague, including spies working against Czech interests. He could have negotiated about the lowering of the number of the embassy staff, which the Brussels command of NATO has recently done, but he did not even try to do so, Kundra writes.
When Zaoralek became minister, he made political scientist Radek Drulak his first deputy. Drulak immediately started putting his theoretical propositions in practice. First of all, he announced a diversion from the late Vaclav Havel’s traditional policy of human rights defence, within which the Czech Republic showed solidarity with people imprisoned and persecuted by various authoritarian regimes, Kundra writes.
He says Drulak promoted the idea that authoritarian regimes like China should be neither provoked nor criticised in order to decrease the future risk of global conflicts.
But Drulak was so radical that he became a burden for Zaoralek who moved him from the post of first deputy foreign minister to the post of the head of his office, Kundra writes.
However, the main reason why Drulak had to leave were the interests of the CSSD rather than those of the Czech Republic. Prime Minister and Social Democratic leader Bohuslav Sobotka demanded that Drulak leave because Drulak’s controversial views might scare off the more liberal centrist voters from the CSSD, Kundra writes.
There is no need to regret Drulak’s departure because he made the Czech Republic non-transparent for its allies and he broke the moral compass of the country, Kundra adds.
Zaoralek replaced Drulak with Lukas Kaucky, a Social Democrat politician unknown to the public whom the CSSD leadership pushed through to the post. However, it was no change for better because Kaucky personifies the main problem of the current Czech foreign policy: dulness, Kundra points out.
Kaucky has never been interested in diplomacy, he has had no contacts in it and he has never made any significant statement on any major foreign affair, such as the Russian war against Ukraine, the refugees or the Greek debt crisis, Kundra writes.
Zaoralek got rid of several good, experienced diplomats, such as Rudolf Jindrak who had been ambassador to Germany for a number of years and who had good relations with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Kundra says.
The Foreign Ministry now has seven deputy ministers, which is the highest number it has ever had, yet none of them is a personality with strong, interesting views, Kundra writes.