Czech President Zeman is against Russian intervention in Ukraine


01.03.2014 19:16

Prague - Czech President Milos Zeman disagrees with a Russian military intervention in Ukraine that may create a deep ditch that cannot be filled, presidential spokesman Jiri Ovcacek said today.


Prezident Miloš Zeman poskytl 27. února na Pražském hradě rozhovor ČTK. ČTK Vondrouš Roman

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) called a possible Russia's military action unsubstantiated and unacceptable.

"Although I fully understand the interests of the majority Russian-speaking population in the Crimea that was incorporated into Ukraine by an absurd decision made by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, we have our experiences with the 1968 military intervention," Zeman said.

"I believe that any military intervention creates a deep ditch that cannot be filled during a generation," he added.

Khrushchev donated the Crimea to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954, on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of Ukraine's joining Russia.

Tension is growing in the Crimea. Its Russian-speaking population wants to secede from Ukraine and to have the peninsula incorporated into Russia.

Ethnic Russians account for about 58 percent of Crimea's population.

Russia is moving military units to its leased military base in Sevastopol and Kiev has put its armed forces on alert.

The Czech Foreign Ministry voiced concern over the situation today.

It stressed the necessity to maintain Ukraine's territorial integrity and respect for its sovereignty and borders.

The ministry also voiced support to the new Ukrainian government in its effort to calm down and stabilise the situation in the country.

Sobotka said he rejected any military interference by Russia.

"Disagreements cannot be resolved by force," Sobotka said.

"All of us must respect international obligations," he added.

Ukraine is a sovereign state on whose future Ukrainian citizens should decide in democratic elections, Sobotka said.

He stressed that in 1994 Russia internationally pledged to respect Ukraine's borders.

"I believe that the Russian government will still respect its obligations and take the necessary steps to calm down the situation," Sobotka said.

Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies foreign affairs committee Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) said on Facebook that "there was a clear effort at widening the power of Russia, at occupying and de facto incorporating the Crimea along with the vital naval base in Sevastopol into Russia."

Russian President Vladimir Putin's argument that the troops might be used in Ukraine in order to protect local Russian citizens were the same as those used by Adolf Hitler when occupying a foreign country, Schwarzenberg said.

"Hitler always declared that he had to protect local Germans. It is quite clear that not the protection of Russian citizens is sought. No one attacks them and they are in absolutely security," Schwarzenberg said.

Jan Zahradil, the first deputy chairman of the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said Russia's steps were unacceptable.

He, too, pointed to the similar experience with "fraternal help" in August 1968.

Sobotka said on Monday he wanted to discuss the situation with Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek who visited Ukraine this week.

U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Moscow against a military intervention in Ukraine.

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