Czech president brands EU ‘cowards’ over stance on Trump’s Jerusalem move
“The European Union, cowards, are doing all they can so a pro-Palestinian terrorist movement can have supremacy over a pro-Israeli movement,” Zeman said on Saturday, as cited by local media. He was speaking at the conference of the Movement of Freedom and Democracy (SPD), a eurosceptic and anti-immigration party.
The eurosceptic Zeman is the only world leader so far, apart from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to have officially welcomed Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On Thursday Zeman said he is “truly happy” with Trump’s declaration, saying that the Czech Republic may also follow the lead of US in that matter.
Zeman, who has repeatedly voiced his pro-Israel stance, recalled that back in 2013 he said he “would appreciate the transfer of the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem, and had it happened, we would have been the first to do so.”
“Now we may sooner or later follow the US. In any case, it is still better than nothing,” the Czech president said.
Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem triggered a backlash from the European Union. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the US announcement on Jerusalem “has a very worrying potential impact.”“The EU has a clear and united position. We believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two states,” she added.
The reaction of other European leaders to Trump’s declaration was negative as well, with France and Germany pointing out that it disregarded all international agreements. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed regret at Trump’s “unilateral” decision, underlining that France “does not approve” of it.
Angela Merkel’s spokesman said the German Chancellor “doesn’t support” the US decision and believes that “the status of Jerusalem needs to be negotiated” as part of talks on a two-state solution. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned the new US stance would provoke a “new escalation in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow is “seriously concerned” over Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The new US position on Jerusalem may further complicate Palestinian-Israeli relations and the situation in the whole region, the ministry added.
Muslim nations were more emotional about Jerusalem issue, with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas saying that Jerusalem remains the “eternal capital” of Palestine. Massive protests were held across the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
Zeman, an established anti-immigration advocate, has repeatedly hit the headlines with his controversial statements, stirring up both the political world and social media. He once said the integration of the Muslim community into Europe is “practically impossible”, slamming EU migrant policies. On another occasion he suggested Greece could pay off its international debt by hosting deportation centers for asylum seekers.
The president of the Czech Republic is sometimes compared to his counterparts in Hungary or Austria and regarded as a mere figurehead, however his office in fact wields considerable authority in political affairs.