Saturday, May 24, 2008

Czech President: "How Ashamed I Am Of Czech Kosovo Recognition"

24 May 2008 | 16:04 | Source: Beta

PRAGUE --
Czech President Vaclav Klaus described his meeting with Serbia's Ambassador Vladimir Vereš in an article published by a Prague newspaper today.

Klaus received Vereš Friday ahead of his return to Belgrade, after the Czech government decided to recognize the Kosovo Albanian's unilateral declaration of independence earlier this week.

"I was very upset by the words of Ambassador Vereš, who said that Serbs did not take personally Kosovo recognitions by countries such as Finland, Holland or Germany, but that the Czech government's move hurt them," Klaus wrote in an article for Mlada Fronta Dnes daily, which he entitled, "How ashamed I was".

The Czech president reminded that he personally cannot be at peace with the recognition, and that for this reason he decided to receive Vereš, which the diplomats describe as a highly unusual move, according to the state protocol.

"I thought that this accelerated invitation to the Serb ambassador ahead of his unwanted departure will give at least a small signal to our people and people in Serbia that nothing changes in the relationship Czechs have with Serbs," Klaus wrote.

He added that Vereš reminded him of several key moments in the common history of the two nations.

One is the fact that the first Czechoslovakian president, Tomaš Garrigue Masaryk, could only travel in Europe during the First World War because Serbia issued him with a passport, and that the German Gestapo persecuted Masaryk's followers in occupied Yugoslavia during the Second World War.

"The ambassador's father studied in Prague after the war, to be sent home by our authorities after 1948, because he would not renounce Tito in favor of Stalin," Klaus continued.

He reminded the readers of the Czech Republic's most influential newspaper that as the Warsaw Pact troops entered Czechoslovakia in 1968, Yugoslavia was the only country to declare its own mobilization.

Meanwhile, the Czech foreign minister expressed regret over the Serbian ambassador's departure, but added his government had no choice but to recognize the secession.

"I respect the president's opinion. I, too, am sorry that the Serbian ambassador is leaving, but our government could make no other decision but to recognize Kosovo," Karel Schwarzenger told Mlada Fronta Dnes.

Prime Minister Miroslav Topolanek said he hoped "Serbia's move would not disturb the relations between the two countries". He was referring to the recall of the ambassador, something done with previous recognitions as well.

Topolanek said via his spokeswoman that the Czech Republic "continues to support Serbia's integration into EU structures".

The Czech government's decision to recognize the unilateral independence, which Serbia rejects as illegal, has caused a storm in the local political scene, which continues unabated for the third day.

The decision will have to be justified in parliament at the start of June, but the jurisdiction to make the recognition remains with the cabinet.

The leader of the Czech communists, Vojteh Filip, said last night that his party will propose a law that will in the future make the parliament the institution with this jurisdiction.

"Legally, the Czech decision to recognize Kosovo will be finalized once the presidents appoints the Czech ambassador to Priština. We have asked Vaclav Klaus to block the appointment of Janjina Hžebičkova," Filip explained.

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