Prague, (CTK) – Czech presidential candidates sharply criticise President Milos Zeman’s Tuesday speech at a ceremony launching the celebrations of the 100-year anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s birth for his vulgar expressions as well as the way of interpreting history, they told CTK today.
Zeman, who seeks re-election, said in his official address that the Czechoslovak non-communist ministers who submitted their resignation in 1948 “were stupid” and reform Communist leader Alexander Dubcek “chickened out of horror” in 1968 after the Soviet invasion. He also said it was not the Charter 77 dissident movement, but the Soviet leader Gorbachev, who had caused the collapse of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
Presidential candidate Jiri Drahos, former Science Academy chairman, said Zeman’s speech was “a performance of a self-centered amateur historian” who was insulting the dead.
“I would have expected more from the president of the republic on this occasion,” Drahos said.
He added that the assessed events in 1948 and 1968 had claimed hundreds of lives, while thousands of people had been persecuted then.
Former ambassador to France Pavel Fischer called Zeman’s address scandalous and he said he felt ashamed for him.
“This is an absolutely unprecedented performance of a head of state… The president who is throwing mud at the breakthrough moments in the history of our country has nothing to do at Prague Castle,” Fischer said.
Skoda Auto former board chairman Vladimir Kulhanek said the head of state should not have used such vulgar expressions.
“I do not want the Czech president to speak like that and to use words that a statesman should not have in his vocabulary at all,” Kulhanek said.
He added that the 100-year anniversary of the state establishment should not be part of any campaign.
Another candidate, musician and producer Petr Hannig noted ironically that Zeman’s speech was another piece of evidence to prove he was not leading an election campaign, similar to his billboards flooding the whole country.
Hannig hinted at Zeman’s promise that he would not lead a campaign for his re-election. His aides and supporters paid for his billboards, posters and other advertisements.
Former Civic Democrat (ODS) chairman and ex-PM Mirek Topolanek also challenged Zeman’s speech, saying it made no good impression if the president opened the official celebrations with a speech full of rude words.
Moreover, Zeman’s words about Dubcek whom Slovaks consider one of their greatest statesmen may be considered an insult to the neighbours, he said.
Topolanek also said the speech was unnecessarily negativistic. “He depicted us as fools and cowards. I absolutely disagree with such assessment,” Topolanek told CTK.
Defence and Security Industry Association President Jiri Hynek told CTK that he would never use such vocabulary and comparisons as Zeman did. Similar comments on history might be interesting in a debate, but they have nothing to do in the president’s address, he added.