President Zeman Begins 2nd Term With Slew Of Attacks, Amid ProtestsČTK
Prague, March 8 (CTK) – Milos Zeman has been sworn in for his second and final term as Czech president at a joint meeting of the two houses of parliament in which also cabinet ministers and a part of regional governors participated at Prague Castle today.
Zeman, 73, defended his post in the direct election held in January. He defeated academic Jiri Drahos in the runoff election. His second term of office will last until 2023.
Zeman arrived at Prague Castle, the presidential seat, together with his wife Ivana, daughter Katerina, the head of his office, Vratislav Mynar.
In his inauguration speech, he assessed his work in the presidential post in the last five years.
A part of right-wing politicians left the room during the speech after Zeman sharply criticised entrepreneur Zdenek Bakala, accused him of extensive economic crime related to the OKD coal mining firm and denounced the media owned by Bakala that are critical of him, naming the weekly Respekt, the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) and the Aktualne.cz news server.
Zeman also said the public Czech Television (CT) was biased and under the influence of the right-wing opposition TOP 09 party. He also criticised some nongovernmental organisations.
Among those who left the room were former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek (both TOP 09), TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil, former parliament chairwoman Miroslava Nemcova (Civic Democrats, ODS) Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) deputy head Marian Jurecka and senator Vaclav Chaloupek (Mayors and Independents, STAN).
After the general election held last autumn, the four centrist and right-wing parties occupy only one fourth of the seats in the lower house of parliament.
“It is sad that Zeman cannot refrain from attack on those who have different opinions even during a ceremonial state event. I would expect a speech of a statesman, not attacks against journalists and media,” Pospisil tweeted.
Observers criticise Zeman for dividing society and some expect him to become even more radical in this during his final term.
In his speech today, Zeman called for direct elections of mayors and regional governors, and an active participation of citizens in public affairs.