published: 21.01.2013, 19:06 | updated: 21.01.2013 19:09:31
Prague - Former Czech PM Jan Fischer, one of the unsuccessful candidates in the ongoing Czech presidential polls, today indirectly backed candidate Milos Zeman, former socialist PM, ahead of the run-off vote by naming several reasons why he cannot support his rival, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
In a statement sent to CTK, Fischer, head of the interim cabinet of unaffiliated experts in 2009-2010, said he minds Schwarzenberg (conservative TOP 09) having compared former Czechoslovak president Edvard Benes (1935-48) with war criminals.
In doing so, minister Schwarzenberg is undermining the international position and harms the name of the Czech Republic, Fischer said.
Moreover, Zeman´s opinions are clear and well-known for long, he continued, adding that he will cast his ballot in the second round.
In reaction to Fischer, Schwarzenberg told Impuls Radio that he is not surprised by Fischer´s statement.
He said Fischer had called for a change to politics within his presidential campaign, but now he has supported just the opposite.
"Jan Fischer has supported the system´s maintenance instead of a change," Schwarzenberg said.
Fischer, who was widely considered a favourite, emerged third from the January 11-12 first round of the direct presidential election and failed to advance to the second round.
He was defeated not only by former socialist PM Zeman (Citizens´ Rights Party, SPOZ), who was the other favourite, but surprisingly also by Schwarzenberg. The two will clash in the January 25-26 run-off.
Political analysts and commentators have emphasised that the way Fischer´s supporters will decide in the second round may be decisive for the election outcome. Commentators previously said they expected Fischer´s supporters to split but said a larger part of them are likely to cast their votes for Schwarzenberg.
Fischer today said supporters of both Zeman and Schwarzenberg had asked him for support. He has met with both successful rivals.
He criticised the election campaign´s rudeness in the past week and said he is afraid that this may make the Czechs even more divided than now.
Fischer, former long-standing Czech Statistical Office (CSU) head, said he has known Zeman for more than 30 years and disagrees with him on many points. Nevertheless, he appreciates Zeman for gathering a high number of people´s signatures in support of his candidacy.
Schwarzenberg did not gather any signatures as he was nominated for president by legislators from his TOP 09.
In addition, Zeman is a candidate whose views are clear, well-known for long, and who does not fear to face responsibility for the performance of his former Social Democrat (CSSD) cabinet [in power in 1998-2002]," Fischer said.
Before the first round of the polls, when Fischer and Zeman were viewed as favourites, Fischer made it clear that Schwarzenberg was closer to him.
"I did so in a certain situation, when I could expect to need his supporters´ votes in the second round. The situation has changed, however. I must really think it over," Fischer told daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) a few days ago, when asked whom he would support in the run-off vote.
In his statement for CTK today, Fischer criticised Schwarzenberg and his allies.
"I cannot support the foreign minister who in fact compared President Benes to war criminals tried by the international tribunal in The Hague," he said.
Schwarzenberg said in a TV discussion on Thursday that the post-war transfer of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia would now be assessed as a violation of human rights for which the then Czechoslovak government, including President Benes, would face the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Schwarzenberg later said his statements were manipulated and torn out of the context with the aim to foment fear of a non-existing danger.
Fischer also said he does not like it that the allies of TOP 09 chairman Schwarzenberg present themselves as followers of the late former president Vaclav Havel´s legacy. Havel would never agree with the gross pressure Schwarzenberg´s camp made on independent candidates before the first round, urging them to withdraw their candidacy in favour of Schwarzenberg.
Schwarzenberg led Havel´s Presidential Office in the early 1990s, they were friends.
Fischer also said he minds Schwarzenberg´s "schizophrenia," or his remaining in the government and simultaneously dissociating himself from the government´s crucial steps.
Schwarzenberg, as first deputy PM and foreign minister, has refused to bear responsibility for the controversial amnesty that President Vaclav Klaus declared on New Year and that Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democrats, ODS) counter-signed without the cabinet´s knowledge, Fischer said in his statement today.
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