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    Czech journalist, writer and former presidential advisor Petr Hajek told Sputnik on Monday that the president's decision to kick US Ambassador out of the presidential castle was a matter of defending the country's independence.

    Czech President's Snub of US Ambassador Shows He Won't Bow to Pressure

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    Czech journalist, writer and former presidential advisor Petr Hajek told Sputnik on Monday that the president's decision to kick US Ambassador out of the presidential castle was a matter of defending the country's independence.

    Over the weekend, a diplomatic scuffle broke out between Czech President Milos Zeman and US Ambassador Andrew Schapiro, after the latter advised the president to cancel his plans to visit Moscow for May's Victory Day celebrations. The affair ultimately resulted in the president's refusal to allow the US ambassador in the presidential castle. Commenting on the affair, Czech journalist and writer Petr Hajek told Sputnik that the president's decision was a matter of defending national sovereignty.

    "This is not a 'diplomatic shootout'; it's a major problem," Hajek stated. "The current US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Mr. Schapiro, like his predecessor, behaves himself as if he were on conquered territory. The US Embassy in Prague serves not as a representative body, but rather as a center sending out negative signals against certain Czech politicians."

    In Hajek's view, the US ambassador "is behaving here like the head of a protectorate, considering it acceptable to give instructions to the president –about whether he can go to Moscow or not…This is completely inappropriate behavior for a diplomat."

    In the journalist's view, "President Zeman's position, rejecting the advice of the US ambassador, and of that of any country for that matter…is the only possible adequate response. Our country's leader has carried himself as the President of the Czech Republic, and not as the head of a protectorate of the United States."

    With Czech-US relations already strained at the diplomatic level, Hajek noted that the US's recent military exercises, driving a military convoy across Eastern and Central Europe have made the US tone toward Czech leaders "even more audacious." The journalist believes that this latest diplomatic conflict will only result in "more pressure by forces on our political scene seeking to reduce the Czech Republic's sovereignty in favor of the EU and the US. But these costs, in my view, are easier to bear than the alternative, which is that the leader of a state behaves like a satellite of another country, as some sort of appendage to foreign interests."

    Hajek, who served as a former spokesman for the country's previous president, Vaclav Klaus, noted that the recent scuffle wasn't the first time a Czech president closed his doors to the US ambassador. The journalist told Sputnik that Klaus had had a conflictual relationship with the US over the 2003 invasion of Iraq, telling the US ambassador in a private conversation at that time that Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of chemical and biological weapons served only "as a pretext for invasion. The journalist noted that "after this conversation, Klaus stopped receiving invitations for meetings with President Bush."

    Hajek believes that the Czech president's trip is "an event of utmost significance, serving as recognition by the Czech Republic that the USSR (and Russia, as its successor) served as the main force in liberating Czechoslovakia from the Nazis. It demonstrates our gratitude to the 150,000 Soviet soldiers who died on our land. The least that can be done on behalf of the Czech people to make such a demonstration is to bow in honor of those killed in fighting for our freedom in their [the Russians'] homeland."

    Topic:
    The 2015 Victory Day Celebrations in Moscow (90)

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    Tags:
    political conflict, scuffle, conflict, diplomacy, Petr Hajek, Andrew Schapiro, Vaclav Klaus, Milos Zeman, Czech Republic, Russia, Prague, United States
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