Tue, Apr 07, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Prague Castle barred to US ambassador: report

Reuters, PRAGUE

Czech President Milos Zeman has reportedly “closed the door” of Prague Castle to US Ambassador to the Czech Republic Andrew Schapiro following comments perceived as critical of Zeman’s decision to attend a World War II commemoration in Moscow, according to local media reports on Sunday.

EU leaders are boycotting the ceremony set for next month over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict, but Zeman — who has frequently departed from the EU line — has said he would attend.

“I cannot imagine [that] the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president [on] where to travel,” Czech news portal Parlamentni Listy quoted Zeman as saying. “I will not let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels.”

“Ambassador Schapiro has the door to the castle closed,” Zeman reportedly added.

A Czech presidential spokesman told local media outlets that Schapiro could still attend social events at Prague Castle, the official residence of the Czech president.

Schapiro reportedly told Czech television last month that it would be “awkward” if Zeman were to attend the ceremony as the only statesman from an EU nation.

Zeman, a former Czech prime minister, has frequently departed from the common EU line on Ukraine and criticized sanctions against Moscow. The Czech government, which is responsible for foreign policy, however, maintains the EU line.

The Czech presidency is largely a ceremonial role, but Zeman is outspoken on his views on both domestic and foreign policy.

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