Signature of Canadian ambassador has made others reluctant to add their names
Update (Dec. 16): Danish Ambassador to Prague Christian Hoppe dismissed the information that he refused to sign the anti-corruption statement because one of the signatories was Canadian Ambassador Otto Jelinek. Hoppe said he had not been asked to sign the statement.But he added he would not have signed the statement anyway because he does not consider it such declarations productive.
Prague, Dec 14 (ČTK) — Some foreign ambassadors in Prague refused to sign a statement calling on Czech politicians to curb corruption because Canada´s Ambassador Otto Jelinek, a lobbyist linked to suspected bribing within a planned purchase of Gripen fighters, was among the signatories, daily Právo writes today.
On Dec. 9, which is the international anti-corruption day, the embassies of Britain, Canada, Finland, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the USA issued a statement saying they are looking forward to see further steps leading to higher responsibility in the sphere of public procurement, more effective and more independent state attorneys and more transparent financing of political parties in the Czech Republic next year, the paper writes.
A diplomatic source told Právo that Danish Ambassador Christian Hoppe originally wanted to sign the statement, but he did not add his signature because of Jelinek.
“He (Hoppe) said he cannot sign a statement together with a person whose name was publicly connected with alleged corruption around the Czech purchase of Gripens,” the source said.
Japanese Ambassador Tetsuo Yamakawa and some other diplomats had reservations, too, the source added.
Some ambassadors criticized Norwegian Ambassador Siri Ellen Sletner for signing the statement, especially when she had said a year ago that she would not sign the statement again due to Jelinek, the source told Právo.
Prague-born Jelinek, a former figure skater, was named ambassador to the Czech Republic in 2013.
According to Právo, Czech President Miloš Zeman had serious reservations about Jelinek’s appointment. Czech diplomacy finally approved Jeline’s appointment on condition that Canada lifts visas for Czechs, which were reintroduced in 2009. Three months after Jelinek handed his credentials to Zeman, the visas were lifted, the paper writes.
Canadian media wrote about Jelinek´s suspected involvement in the planned controversial purchase of the supersonic fighter planes before his appointment as well, Právo writes.
The Czech military was negotiating about the purchase of Gripens made by the British-Swedish consortium BAE-Systems. The alleged corruption was investigated by the police in Britain, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
The Czech police launched the investigation into the Gripen case in 2002. In 2007, the case was reopened after new information appeared. The police suspected the key person for the bribing in the Czech Gripen campaign to be Steve Mead. Otto Jelinek, who worked for BAE-Systems in Prague, was to be one of three mediators. Jelinek pleaded innocent. Last year, the police shelved the case.
The latest anti-corruption statement by the seven embassies seated in Prague welcomed that Czech parliament recently passed a bill declaring that all state contracts must be available online to take effect, the paper writes.
The foreign ambassadors noted that their governments pledged to fight corruption both home and abroad.
Last year, the anti-corruption statement was signed by the ambassadors from Britain, Canada, Norway, South Korea and the USA. The ambassadors then pointed out that the Czech Republic was among the worst European countries in terms of corruption perception according to the Transparency International report and they called on the Czech government to meet its anti-corruption promises.