published: 16.01.2013, 17:16 | updated: 16.01.2013 17:42:36
Prague - Czech presidential candidates Milos Zeman (Party of Citizens' Rights, SPOZ) and Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) are for a close cooperation with the government if elected, they said in their public debate on Czech Radio (CRo) public broadcaster today.
Zeman and Schwarzenberg gained 24.2 and 23.4 percent of the vote, respectively, in the first round of the direct presidential election on January 11-12.
They will contest the run-off on January 25-26.
Zeman, a former prime minister, said if vital legislation were debated, he would often attend the government meetings, would not keep silent on it and would try to convince the government.
Schwarzenberg, current foreign minister, said he was ready for regular meetings with the prime minister at Prague Castle (the presidential seat) and for the coordination of the head of state and the government in foreign policy.
Both candidates agree with the EU banking union.
Schwarzenberg said the EU was heading for a federation, Zeman said he was for a joint foreign and defence policy.
Zeman said he would attend the government meetings more often if the government debated vital legislation. He said he would not take any revenge if the government's view differed.
Zeman said he had not done so even in the past when he was outvoted by the ministers.
He said he would try to convince the government and possibly also parliament.
Schwarzenberg said the coordination of the attitudes of the president and the government "especially in foreign policy" was very important.
"The impression is stupid if we contradict one another abroad," he added.
He said if he were the president, he would consult the government on various issues beforehand, while the consultations should be more frequent.
"This does not mean that the president must attend the government meetings every week," Schwarzenberg said.
"The other day, it was a good habit that the prime minister appeared at Prague Castle once a week in order to discuss vital political themes with the president," Schwarzenberg said.
He said he would try to act in harmony with the government, but he would not keep silent if he felt that the Czech Republic were threatened.
This might happen if the country acted against its allied obligations, Schwarzenberg said.
Turning to the EU, Schwarzenberg said he was for a federation.
He said he agreed with the banking union, but first the Czech Republic had to accept the euro.
Zeman said it would only make sense to speak about the banking union after the Czech Republic were in the euro zone, which would take at least five more years.
Zeman said Europe should have united foreign or security policies.
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