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PM considers Zeman’s speech combative, right wing condemns it

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Prague, March 8 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) expected the inauguration speech that President Milos Zeman made on Thursday to be less confrontational, the Czech right-wing opposition condemned it, and parliament deputy head Vojtech Filip (Communists, KSCM) considered the speech too personal.

Parliament deputy head Tomio Okamura (Freedom and Direct Democracy, SPD) said Zeman was absolutely right in all that he said.

In his inauguration address, Zeman devoted a lot of space to sharp criticism of billionaire Zdenek Bakala and the media he owned, which have often been critical of Zeman. He also repeatedly claimed that the public Czech Television (CT) was biased. Zeman’s second term of office, which started on Thursday, will last five years.

“We need society to get united. I expected a different speech. I expected him not to be confrontational,” Babis told CT.

Babis said Zeman’s statements were unfortunate but he did not consider them an attack on the freedom of speech, unlike the right-wing politicians, some of whom left the room during Zeman’s address.

Civic Democrat (right-wing ODS) leader Petr Fiala said he was disappointed at Zeman not being able to refrain from attacking his opponents, media and the freedom of speech. He said Zeman brought unrest to society and justified the Communist era.

Pirates leader Ivan Bartos said nobody expected Zeman to make a conciliatory speech. “I feel sorry that the room excitedly applauded the speech. I did not clap my hands,” he said.

Bartos said he hoped politics would continue to be created in parliament rather than the Presidential Office.

The right-wing populist leader Okamura told CTK that Zeman’s speech was absolutely correct. “He spoke of media manipulation, of bad journalist work when they really manipulate public opinion and lie, he spoke of the promotion of direct democracy,” said Okamura who also repeatedly criticised CT and challenged the idea of public media.

Okamura said it is a question whether the given issues should be part of an inauguration address, however.

Communist leader Filip said Zeman’s attack on the right-wing TOP 09 was logical because this party had sharply attacked Zeman in the past.

Social Democrat (CSSD) chairman Jan Hamacek said on Twitter it was an honour to attend Zeman’s inauguration.

CSSD senator Jiri Dienstbier tweeted the speech was bad and contained lots of dirt and hatred.

TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil said it was sad Zeman attacked institutions related to the democratic state. However, he told CT that one cannot expect the ageing Zeman to change.

“Let’s be happy that it had not been still worse,” Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) leader Pavel Belobradek said.

He said Zeman should not have attacked journalists shortly after a murder of an investigative reporter in the neighbouring Slovakia.

KDU-CSL deputy chairman Marian Jurecka said he hoped the speech would be uniting and connecting people, which it was not.

Jan Farsky (Mayors and Independents, STAN) told CT that Zeman’s speech was motivated by hatred and revenge. He said Zeman had promised to be uniting society five years ago but society has never been as divided as now.

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