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Czech president objects to incoming FM, citing ‘distant attitude’ toward Israel

Milos Zeman also cites Pirate Party nominee’s stance toward Visegrad group and ‘only’ having a bachelor’s degree

Czech President Milos Zeman addresses the media during a joint press conference after meeting at the Hofburg palace in Vienna with his Austrian counterpart, on June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner, File)
Czech President Milos Zeman addresses the media during a joint press conference after meeting at the Hofburg palace in Vienna with his Austrian counterpart, on June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Lisa Leutner, File)

PRAGUE — Czech President Milos Zeman on Friday objected to the incoming government’s nominee for foreign minister, calling into question the timetable for the new cabinet to take office.

Zeman said in a statement that he did not want Jan Lipavsky, a nominee from the Pirate Party, part of the newly formed coalition, to take the post.

Zeman cited among his objections the fact that the 36-year-old “only” had a bachelor’s degree with a low mark for his final thesis.

He said Lipavsky also had a “distant attitude” toward relations with the Visegrad regional group of countries and with Israel.

Lipavsky has in the past spoken out against Russia and China, while Zeman is a major supporter of both.

“The Czech constitution does not oblige the president of the republic to accept every candidate that is submitted to him,” Zeman said.

Center-right leader Petr Fiala, designated as next prime minister, said the Constitutional Court should rule on “the issue of competences regarding the appointment of ministers.”

An appeal to the court could take months.

Fiala, who is due to meet with Zeman on Monday, has previously said he would like the new government to be in place by mid-December.

The Czech Republic is currently struggling with one of the world’s highest COVID-19 infection rates.

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