Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (CSSD) learned of his dismissal from the government Sunday night in a meeting with the party’s chairman and deputy prime minister, Jan Hamáček. Petříček told CTK without further comment. Hamáček did not respond to questions. According to media speculation and unofficial information, Petříček is to be replaced by the current Minister of Culture, Lubomír Zaorálek (CSSD) and will be replaced by CSSD deputy Jan Birke.
“I can confirm that I learned of my dismissal at a meeting with Jan Hamáček,” Petříček wrote in a text message. President Miloš Zeman said today in an interview for Blesk.cz that he would not delay Petříček’s dismissal if it were proposed by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO). According to information from the Czech News Agency, Hamáček intends to announce it at a press conference on Monday;
Zeman has been working for a change in the head of the diplomacy for a long time. Petříček thinks that the president is annoyed by drawing attention to the tender’s safety risks for the construction of a unit at the Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant or the refusal to be vaccinated with uncertified Russian or Chinese vaccines.
According to today’s Zeman statement, MP Birke is much more experienced than the mayor of Nové Město na Moravě Michal Šmarda (ČSSD), whom Zeman refused to appoint as Minister of Culture in 2019. Šmarda eventually gave up the nomination, and Zaorálek became the new head of the department. He previously also ran the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On Friday, Petříček lost the election for chairman of the CSSD, in which he ran against Hamáček. Hamáček then stated that he did not give a “blank check” to any minister until the parliamentary elections. Petříček then told reporters that he did not talk to Deputy Prime Minister Hamáček about speculation about his end in the office. He met Hamáček only today.