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Respekt: ForMin promises to again speak in clear voice

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Prague, Jan 4 (CTK) – Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) has long kept silent, but now, he promises to again speak in a clear voice, Ondrej Kundra writes in weekly Respekt out yesterday.
He writes that Zaoralek, 59, explained his recent silence by a leg injury he suffered while moving furniture, but the truth is that he is invisible even when he is in a good physical condition.
As it is, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (CSSD) speaks more about the current hot issue, migration, than Zaoralek, which makes him the major creator of Czech foreign policy next to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD).
In a way, this is logical because the security aspects of the migrant crisis fall within his jurisdiction and that is why Chovanec regularly goes to Brussels to take part in debates on the issue and informs the government of them, Kundra writes.
He writes that Chovanec totally uses the space he has. His sharp “no” to migration promotes his popularity, which is 12 percent higher than Zaoralek´s, and he is speculated about as a possible future prime minister.
Czech policy has long been split on migration. Chovanec is opposed by the justice and human rights ministers, Robert Pelikan (ANO) and Jiri Dienstbier (CSSD), respectively, Kundra writes.
He writes that Zaoralek, for his part, does not join any disputes over what position the government should take.
Zaoralek does not formulate his opinions in any other way either. In interviews with newspapers he uses general phrases and when he invites journalists to talks on foreign policy, he usually performs empty monologues, Kundra writes.
However, before he became foreign minister in January 2014, he was definitely not a dull politician. After many years spent in opposition, where he focused on foreign policy, he started resolutely in the ministerial post, Kundra writes.
He writes that Zaoralek sharply denounced “the Russian war against Ukraine” and he visited Ukraine six times in 2014, while he was there only once last year.
The more he could be heard, the bigger was the criticism by his party colleagues and President Milos Zeman. They said he takes excessively pro-Western stands and he withdrew from the limelight, Kundra writes.
He writes that in parliament, Zaoralek was long incapable of pushing through an association agreement with Ukraine, Czech aid to Kiev shrunk to the level of the eight times smaller Estonia according to a report by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
It seems as if Zaoralek mediated the stands of others and that he attempts to show a more refined face of the Czech Republic on the European scene, Kundra writes.
He writes that Zaoralek paints the Czech government´s policy as not aimed at breaking up the EU and as focused on offering help to the migrants.
According to Brussels diplomats, Zaoralek, who has a good knowledge of languages, smoothes out Chovanec´s sharper statements. “I care about the image of our country that is a reliable partner,” Kundra quotes Zaoralek as saying.
“I am not interested in setting myself apart from my colleagues. When I was an opposition politician, I was attacking many. Now, I am in a position where I am interested in consensus, both within the Czech Republic and inside Europe,” Zaoralek said.
His collaborators say he finds it difficult to cope with the pressure that a part of the Czech public puts on him. He is surprised at how many hate letters he gets in connection with his accommodating stance on Ukraine and the migrants, Kundra writes.
He writes that Zaoralek allegedly fears his position would be weakened if he defended unpopular opinions and that is why he has preferred to remain in the background.

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