Prague - The Czech People in Need organisation has called on President Milos Zeman to abolish the invitation extended to Uzbek President Islam Karimov to visit Prague, saying he represents a repressive regime that does not hesitate to abuse its citizens for slave labour.
Zeman reacted in an open letter today saying Karimov was invited by his predecessor, Vaclav Klaus, and he wished the humanitarian organisation "more information and less hypocrisy."
"We urgently ask you to consider the possibility of abolishing this invitation. But if you do decide to go ahead with the meeting, we would like to call on you to ask President Karimov to provide an explanation of the above mentioned serious violation of human rights," People in Need writes in an open letter that it handed to the Presidential Office on Monday.
Zeman replied saying "first, you are mistaken right in the first sentence of your open letter. Uzbek President Islam Karimov was invited by my predecessor and it is a matter of diplomatic politeness that the new president takes over the commitments of his predecessor. I did not notice that you would have protested against Vaclav Klaus´s visit to Uzbekistan," Zeman wrote.
CTK received the letter from Zeman´s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek.
Zeman wrote that Karimov recently met leading politicians of the European Union and that the United States counts him among partners in the struggle against international terrorism.
"I have not noticed that you would have protested against this U.S. stand," Zeman wrote.
People in Need says, however, Karimov only visited Brussels twice in the past five years.
"In 2011 many high-placed EU representatives refused to meet him. They included European Council President Herman Van Rompuy or Catherine Ashton, high representative of the Union for foreign affairs and security policy," the organisation wrote.
Zeman´s choice of partners for political discussion has of late been criticised by humanitarian organisations. They have appealed on him not to receive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Prague, for instance.
Zeman recently received Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan at Prague Castle. Sargsyan defended his mandate last year with almost 59 percent of the vote.
Foreign observers praised progress in the election compared with the previous one in 2008, but they were critical of a lack of political competition during the election campaign.