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Gov’t unopposed to Zeman’s trip to China

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Prague, Aug 4 (CTK) – The Czech government does not question President Milos Zeman’s trip to China to celebrate the anniversary of Victory, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists yesterday.
The trip has not provoked any major discrepancy within the EU either, Zaoralek said.
He dismissed the information from the press yesterday that due to Zeman’s plan, the Czech diplomacy had vetoed the proposal that European leaders should avoid the Chinese celebrations of the anniversary of the WWII end.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) also approves of the journey.
The daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) quoted Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michaela Lagronova as saying that it had known about Zeman’s trip and had to reject a “coordinated position” on the participation of EU leaders in the celebrations.
Zaoralek said there had only been a working level discussion where Czech delegates told the rest about Zeman’s going to the celebrations.
He said he had not noticed anyone criticising the Czech Republic over its steps.
Zaoralek dismissed the notion that the Czech Republic had vetoed any proposal.
“I do not think there was any dramatic problem or discussion. I think this is artificial,” Zaoralek said.
“It is right to honour the victims of the war,” he added.
Sobotka, too, does not question Zeman’s journey.
He said within a commemorative act, Zeman would honour the victims of World War Two.
“I do not see anything bad in this. Comparing the trip with his recent visit to Moscow is nonsense as the EU is not applying any sanctions against China,” Sobotka told CTK.
The Czech right-wing opposition politicians are critical about Zeman’s planned trip to China.
TOP 09 deputy chairman Marek Zenisek said the problem is that Zeman puts the economic interests above the observance of human rights.
“Is [his] participation in the celebration of a regime that is known for its human rights violations, really necessary? Either the economic interests prevail over [genuine] values again, or the president is becoming less and less competent,” Zenisek told CTK.
Civic Democrat (ODS) deputy head Martin Kupka said other European countries, too, maintain economic relations with China, but their leaders will not go to attend the celebrations in Beijing.
“Europe wanted not to attend the celebrations, for well-known reasons. The Czech Republic has interfered in this [intention] due to the [Czech] president’s inclination, which, I do not consider good,” Kupka told CTK.
HN writes that the EU wants to avoid the celebrations over the tension between China and Japan, among others.
A military parade to present new arms will be part of the Chinese celebrations.
Russia has already confirmed its participation in the parade. Exactly the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian military is one of the reasons why Western governments will be reluctant to send their representatives to Beijing, HN writes, referring to diplomats.
It is not sure yet whether Zeman will avoid the military parade in Beijing like he did in Moscow in May when attending the celebrations of the Victory there, HN says.

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