Czech future foreign minister to invite Klitschko - press


23.01.2014 09:43

Prague - Czech future foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) wants to invite Ukrainian opposition leader Wladimir Klitschko or a different Ukrainian opposition leader to Prague upon taking up office, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes today.


Vůdce ukrajinské opoziční strany UDAR Vitalij Kličko. ČTK/AP Sergei Chuzavkov

On the other hand, Zaoralek does not consider it a mistake that President Milos Zeman invited his Ukrainian opposite number Viktor Yanukovych to Prague during his visit to Ukraine last October.

"We have to speak with both sides," Zaoralek told LN.

The conflict between the government and opposition came to a head after the Ukrainian government did not sign an association agreement with the EU last November.

Mass demonstrations have been held in Kiev to protest against the decision since then.

On Wednesday, the clashes of radical protesters with the riot police in Kiev caused a bloodshed and claimed lives.

"It should be our interest to prevent a civil war in Ukraine as much as possible. For this, we need both communication channels," Zaoralek said.

Zaoralek's relations with Zeman have been tense since the time Zeman headed the Social Democrats whom he later left in anger.

Zaoralek said he still believed their steps in the sphere of foreign policy would be harmonised.

"The president is a part of the executive power and we will have the only chance if we manage to coordinate our steps and statements," Zaoralek said.

"I will keep telling him that making one policy is a question of elementary sound judgement of this country and its representatives. Both of us should not have a different one," Zaoralek said.

Asked whether he or the prime minister's secretary for the EU will manage the European policy, Zaoralek said in the past the European policy had been headed by the foreign and finance ministries, the Government Office and the CNB central bank.

"This will be changed. The role of the CNB in particular must be different than the role of another political player. However, the triumvirate of the foreign and finance ministries and the Government Office will stay," Zaoralek said.

Zaoralek said after taking up office, he would make "fundamental changes," including a personnel reshuffle, at the Foreign Ministry.

LN writes that in the past years Zaoralek made his mark as a critic of Czech military missions and Czech diplomacy's positive approach to Israel.

"I have the feeling that my arguments are still valid. The increase in the Czech military presence in Afghanistan was a blunder as the mission did not have a clear aim," Zaoralek said.

"It does not mean that I will command a flight from the country. I have already told U.S. representatives that we will coordinate the pullout," Zaoralek said.

Asked whether with hindsight he regretted his trip to Syria in 2008 to which he and former CSSD leader Jiri Paroubek set out "to establish contacts with comrades" from President Bashar Assad's Baath Party, Zaoralek replied at that time he could not have an idea of what would happen.

"Assad behaved like a civilised ophthalmologist, not as a dictator," Zaoralek said.

"No one would have betted that such a violence would be triggered three years later. Our trip was closely coordinated with our Foreign Ministry and we advocated the EU political line there," Zaoralek said.

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