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    'A Bull in China Shop': Merkel's Visit to Prague Could Infuriate Ordinary Czechs

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    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's upcoming visit to the Czech Republic can be seen as nothing but a provocation, Petr Hajek, chief editor of the website Protiproud, told Sputnik.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Petr Hajek, chief editor of the website Protiproud, described German Chancellor Angela Merkel's forthcoming visit to the Czech Republic as little more than a provocation.

    Hajek served as press secretary to former Czech President Vaclav Klaus while he was in office between 2003 and 2008.

    His interview came after media reports said that Merkel is due to pay a brief visit to the Czech capital Prague on August 25 to officially declare her support for Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka ahead of the regional and parliamentary elections.

    Right-wing protestors demonstrate against refugees, Islam and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, May 7, 2016. The sign reads: Volksschaedling (Enemy of the People)
    © REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke
    Right-wing protestors demonstrate against refugees, Islam and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany, May 7, 2016. The sign reads: "Volksschaedling" (Enemy of the People)

    According to Hajek, "we will see an attempt to test the immunity of Czech society toward the crazy twists of Merkel's policy, which have led to a real chaos in Europe."

    "But Merkel will be in the Czech Republic like a 'bull in a china shop', because her migration policy-related ally Sobotka's stance is out of sync with the sentiments of the absolute majority of Czechs," he said.

    He added that Merkel will become a guest of honor in the country "only for those who want to see thousands of Islamists being settled in the Czech Republic, something that is already the case with Germany."

    "However, for the 90 percent of the Czech population who strongly oppose 'the open doors' policy on migrants, Merkel's visit to Prague will be nothing but a provocation," Hajek said.

    Merkel is facing a tough battle in regional elections in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony and Berlin in September, in the run-up to next year's federal election in which she has been threatened with a challenge from within her own CDU/CSU coalition.

    In the latest poll, commissioned for media outlets Ostsee-Zeitung, Nordkurier, Schweriner Volkszeitung and NDR, almost one in four respondents said that they will vote for either the right-wing populist AfD party or the far-right ultranationalist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).

    Merkel has drawn strong criticism for her "open doors" policy towards refugees. In the summer of 2015, she made it clear that Syrian refugees would be welcome in Germany, precipitating a huge influx of migrants from war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq as well as relatively peaceful albeit poverty-stricken countries such as Eritrea.

    Strangely enough, this welcome was not extended to Ukrainians, as theirs was considered a "safe country of origin." According to the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, a positive decision on asylum was made with respect to only 5.3 percent of Ukrainian requests, with every refusal accompanied by a requirement to leave the country.

    The argument was that certain parts of Ukraine are unaffected by war, although the same can be said of Syria; over six million Syrians remain internally displaced.

    The sheer volume of mostly-Muslim migrants arriving in Germany has caused major strains in many German states, with asylum-seekers creating a burden on local authorities. More than 1.1 million entered Germany in 2015 alone.

    Merkel's popularity suffered in the wake of last month's deadly terrorist attacks in Germany and 52 percent of Germans think her migrant policy is bad, according to a poll published by broadcaster ZDF last week. With just over a year before a federal election, the poll gave Merkel an approval rating of 1.0, down from 1.4 in July on a scale of 5.0 to —5.0.


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