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President Zeman says culture minister should leave government

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Prague, Nov 6 (CTK) – Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) should leave the Czech government for harming the state interests, President Milos Zeman said in an interview with Parlamentni listy yesterday, hinting at Herman’s meeting with the Tibetan Dalai Lama.
Zeman did not rule out that he would propose it at his meeting with PM Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) on Tuesday. They will meet to deal with the planned changes in the team of the CSSD ministers, announced by Sobotka.
“I respect the president’s right to express his opinion and I thank him for it. By his statements and stances, he only confirmed the truthfulness of my words,” Herman told CTK.
Zeman said Herman “harmed the interests of his country and acted at variance with the government resolution since his desire to remain culture minister would be stronger than anything else.”
In the interview, Zeman accused Herman of lies in connection with the dispute about awarding Holocaust survivor of Czech origin Jiri Brady.
Zeman said it was not true that he had told Herman at the Slovak embassy that he would not award his relative Brady with the Order of T.G. Masaryk on the national holiday on October 28 if Herman met the Dalai Lama.
Harman accused Zeman od saying so. After he met the Dalai Lama, Brady’s name was deleted from the list of the personalities to be awarded by Zeman, Herman said.
Zeman was to warn Herman at the Slovak embassy on September 8 with the transport and industry ministers, Dan Tok (ANO) and Jan Mladek (CSSD), and Slovak Ambassador Peter Weiss present. However, they did not confirm it, saying they either did not pay attention to the debate or nothing like that was said.
Zeman also said the Presidential Office had a letter from June 29, in which Herman asked the president to award Brady, without mentioning he was his relative.
Herman said the family relation played no role in the case and that he had only joined the initiative in support of awarding Brady of his native town of Nove Mesto na Morave, south Moravia, and the Chamber of Deputies.
“The letter that I added to the proposal was initiated by Presidential Office protocol section head Jindrich Forejt who said it would be suitable if I (individually) promoted the nomination,” Herman said.
Brady, 88, who survived the Terezin (Theresienstadt) internment camp for Jews, north Bohemia, and the Auschwitz Nazi extermination camp, left for Canada in 1949. He has written and lectured on the Holocaust and helped immigrants.
Political, social and cultural personalities as well as broad public criticised the fact that Brady had not received a state order from the president.
Some politicians did not attend the October 29 award-giving ceremony hosted by Zeman at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, over it. Chamber of Deputies deputy head Petr Gazdik (STAN) organised an alternative celebration at old Town Square on October 28.
Zeman also questioned the information that at his initiative, Forejt had called Herman, asking him about his meeting with the Chinese ambassador.
“I do not know at all that Herman met the Chinese ambassador and if he did, it is his full right. I cannot see any reason why I would ask about the content of this conversation,” Zeman told Parlamentni listy.
“I can confirm that Forejt called me from New York on September 21. Among other things, he told me that the president asked how my meeting with the Chinese ambassador had gone off. I do not know whether he did so out of his own will, while the president knew nothing about it,” Herman said.

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