Czech President leaves office

Milos Zeman steps down as President of the Czech Republic. On March 8, his second five-year mandate as head of state expires, and the next day, on Thursday, the inauguration ceremony of his successor, retired Army General Petr Pavel, will take place in Prague Castle.

Many Czech political scientists and media are critical of Zeman’s decade of presidency, especially his foreign policy. Previously, he advocated the development of relations between the Czech Republic and Russia, primarily in the economic field, but after February 24, 2022, he radically revised his approach. He has also been criticized for his “pro-Chinese stance”. Czech Radio in this regard recalled that he promised to attract 230 billion crowns (about € 10.2 billion) into the national economy as investments from China, but in practice the investments were insignificant.

In his last interview as president, aired Sunday on CNN’s Prima NEWS, Zeman defended his stance on developing the Czech Republic’s economic relations with China. The expansion of cooperation, according to him, is in the interests of the republic. This is evidenced by the fact that China is its second foreign trade partner after Germany. According to Zeman, the intensification of trade and economic cooperation with China is hindered by the contacts of Czech politicians with Taiwan, which Beijing perceives as a provocation.

On Tuesday, 78-year-old Zeman moved from the Lana Palace, the head of state’s official country residence in the eponymous town near Prague, to his own villa built nearby. A car with a driver and security are assigned to him for life. His monthly income will amount to 123 thousand kroons (about € 5.2 thousand), including pension and funds allocated by the state for the maintenance of an assistant assistant. He, as informed by the politician, will be his wife Ivan Zemanova.

In an interview with CNN Prima NEWS, Zeman complained that he could not imagine how he would exist with his family in retirement after the vacation of the presidency, only whose salary, without monthly allocated funds for entertainment expenses, is more than 340 thousand crowns (about € 14 thousand).

“Well, we (current income) will have to survive,” – he said.

Zeman became the first president of the Czech Republic to be elected in direct and general elections. Prior to this, the head of state was elected at a joint meeting of both chambers of the parliament of the republic. According to the media, his successor in Prague Castle, Petr Pavel, collected a significantly larger number of votes in the presidential elections held in January this year (more than 3.3 million voted for Pavel out of about 8.25 million registered voters) than Zeman received in the elections in 2013 and 2018. The country’s constitution allows only two presidential mandates, which ruled out another re-election of Zeman.

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