‘Silliness’: Czech president berates Russia for classifying his nation as hostile

Czech President Milos Zeman gestures in Vienna, Austria, April 3, 2019. REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger

Russia’s decision to put the Czech Republic on a list of “hostile” states is ludicrous, Czech President Milos Zeman said on Sunday, following a cooling of relations between the two countries following a dispute over information.

Relations deteriorated sharply last month after the Czech government accused Russian military intelligence services of causing an explosion in 2014 at an ammunition depot that killed two people and expelled dozens of Russian diplomats from Prague.

Russia has denied the allegations and retaliated by expelling Czech diplomats and placing the country on the “hostile” list on Friday alongside the United States, limiting the number of officials these governments can employ in Moscow. Read more

“It’s always wrong to be an enemy,” Zeman said in a live interview with Frekvence 1 radio.

“This is foolishness on the Russian side, because making enemies of old friends is a mistake. If there can be no friendship, then at least there should be correct relationships.”

Zeman has for years fostered friendly relations with Russia, supported Russia’s participation in the construction of a new nuclear power plant in his country, and also urged Czech authorities to purchase Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.

He also deviated from the official government line by saying there was another possible version of what caused the ammunition explosion, a view he reiterated on Sunday.

But the president, who has no executive powers to direct government policy, has also supported the government’s expulsions of Russian diplomats.

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