Zeman: U.S. ambassador has closed the door

Czech president says ambassador was wrong to criticize Moscow trip

Prague, April 5 (CTK) — U.S. ambassador Andrew Schapiro has the closed door to the Prague Castle, the seat of Czech heads of state, President Miloš Zeman told the server Parlamentní listy today.

Schapiro criticized him over his planned trip to Russia to celebrate Victory in Moscow in May.

“I cannot image a Czech ambassador in Washington giving advice to the U.S. president on where he should travel,” Zeman said.

“I will not let any ambassador speak into my plans of foreign trips,” Zeman said.

“I am afraid that after the statement, Schapiro’s door to the Prague Castle is closed,” he added.

“Well, Mr Ambassador will be awfully sorry,” former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, chairman of the Chamber of Deputies foreign committee and leader of the opposition TOP 09, said with irony.

Jaroslav Faltýnek, chairman of the deputy group of ANO, a member of the coalition government, said Zeman had “overreacted.”

He said on the other hand he agreed that it was not suitable for an ambassador to criticize a head of state.

“I presume that the whole affair will be explained rationally,” Faltýnek said.

“I do not think Zeman’s decision to discontinue communication with the U.S. ambassador is adequate to the given situation,” the Chamber of Deputies chairman Jan Hamáček (Social Democrats, ČSSD) said.

At the end of March, Schapiro told the public broadcaster Czech Television (ČT) that while in Moscow, Zeman could be the only leading representative of an EU country, which might be somewhat precarious.

He also said it was not his task to tell the Czech president what to do or not to do.

Out of the EU countries, only the top representatives of Cyprus and Greece will go to Moscow.

Zeman’s trip has come under the criticism by the right-wing opposition.

However, the government is likely to agree with the trip, daily Právo wrote on Saturday.

A number of Western politicians have decided to boycott the Moscow celebrations due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will only fly to Moscow on May 10, one day after the main celebrations.

Zeman said previously his trip to Russia would be a “sign of gratitude for not having to speak German in this country.”

He said he was going to Russia to express his respect to the 150,000 soldiers who died when liberating Czechoslovakia.

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