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March 8, 2018 8:54 pm | FILED UNDER: politics

President Zeman Attacks Businessman Zdenek Bakala In Inauguration Speech

By ČTK Czech President Milos Zeman

Prague, March 8 (CTK) – These are the main ideas of President Milos Zeman’s speech he delivered at his inauguration for another five-year term today:

 

– In the first part, Zeman largely spoke about the past five years in office. He mentioned the naming of constitutional judges, members of the CNB central bank board and other senior officials. He also stressed his regular meeting the public. He said he was glad to talk to ordinary people and personalities in all parts of the country. In all, he had 4,000 meetings in the past five years. Zeman said he was about to continue with the meetings to be a full-fledged president, not just an ornament on a state building.

 

– The post of president should serve for the meetings, the head of state should not be hidden “behind the walls of the Prague Castle or the Lany manor.” The meetings include consultations of government members. Zeman said he had “correct or friendly relations” with most of them. Zeman went on to speak about state decorations. Out of the tens of people whom he decorated, he mentioned former EU enlargement commissioner Gunter Verheugen “because the man is largely credited with helping the Czech Republic enter the EU.”

 

– He said economic diplomacy was a vital part of the post because especially in the countries with the presidential system, “a president understands best a president.” He said over the past five years, he had organised 18 business missions with the participation of over 700 businesspeople.

 

– Zeman recalled his inauguration speech five years ago, in which he spoke about the danger of neo-Nazi militias. He said it was a good thing that the Workers’ Party of Social Justice (DSSS) was a marginal party without any representatives in the parliament or regional assemblies.

 

– Zeman devoted a large part of his speech to the criticism of businessman Zdenek Bakala and his role in the mining company OKD. He accused him of large-scale economic crime, arguing that 100 billion crowns had been embezzled from the company. Since the case has not yet been solved, one cannot say that economic crime is a matter of the past in the Czech Republic, Zeman said. He sharply criticised the media owned by Bakala and the public broadcaster Czech Television.

 

– Zeman said he would continue with what he was doing in the past and what he considered useful. He said there was a new topic of civic activity. He said in his second term he wanted to support active involvement in public affairs, which has three, economic, social and political, dimensions.

 

– Zeman spoke about the need of a Czech version of the Peace Corps, created by volunteers who should help in the regions that needed it.

 

– At the close of his speech, Zeman spoke in favour of elements of direct democracy, including the referendum. “If people are sufficiently competent to decide on who should win the election, why should they not be enough competent to decide on other questions, too?” Zeman asked. Zeman also said he was for compulsory participation in elections.

 

– Zeman said he was for direct elections of mayors and regional governors.

 

At the very end of his speech, Zeman, 73, said he was about to live until 90 years and to take part at least three times in the inauguration of his successors.

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