President Zeman Refuses To Appoint Hladik as Environment Minister, Citing Reservations

Hladik’s office was searched in the process of a corruption investigation in Brno in October. Photo credit:

Prague, Jan 5 (CTK) – Czech President Milos Zeman told Petr Hladik (KDU-CSL) that he had reservations about his nomination for environment minister and was not ready to appoint him for now, Hladik told journalists yesterday after meeting Zeman at Prague Castle.

He said he had been under the impression that he had clarified all reservations raised by Zeman during the conversation.

Hladik said he would convey Zeman’s position to KDU-CSL chairman Marian Jurecka, who is temporarily in charge of the Environment Ministry until a new minister is appointed, and to the KDU-CSL leadership. Jurecka will then discuss the situation with PM Petr Fiala (ODS), Hladik said.

Journalists were not allowed to ask him questions.

Writing on Twitter later yesterday, Jurecka, who is also a deputy PM, said he could not see any fundamental reason why Zeman had refused to appoint Hladik as minister, adding that he is competent, has done nothing unlawful, and has faced neither accusations nor prosecution.

After meeting Zeman, Hladik said they “had quite a long debate about the management of the Environment Ministry. The debate was quite comprehensive, deep and concrete,” he said.

“At the close of the debate, the president told me that he had reservations about my nomination and will not appoint me environment minister for the time being. I think that I clarified the reservations he raised, but the president insists on his position for the moment,” Hladik said.

The naming of a new environment minister was complicated by the revelation of a case of suspicious allocation of municipal flats in Brno. During the investigation, the police raided several premises in the autumn, including Hladik’s office at the Brno Town Hall, where he was a deputy mayor until recently. Nevertheless, the police have not made any accusations against Hladik, who has repeatedly asserted since then that he cooperated with the police.

PM Fiala proposed Hladik’s appointment as minister to Zeman in late December. At the time, he told CTK that he had waited for some time until the situation became clear. “According to available information, Petr Hladik has not been accused of anything nor does he face prosecution. That is why I have complied with the KDU-CSL’s nomination and proposed to the president to appoint Petr Hladik environment minister,” Fiala said last week.

Fiala has taken note of Zeman’s decision today and will discuss the situation with Jurecka, government spokesman Vaclav Smolka told CTK.

They will have time alloted for the discussion during their Thursday trip to the Vatican to attend the funeral of former Pope Benedict XVI.

The leaders of the junior government Mayors and Independents (STAN) and TOP 09, Vit Rakusan and Marketa Pekarova Adamova, have told CTK that they have taken note of Zeman’s position.

“This is not an easy situation for the government. I believe that the KDU-CSL will come up with a solution soon,” said Rakusan, a deputy PM and interior minister.

“I expect the KDU-CSL to solve the situation,” said Pekarova Adamova, chair of the Chamber of Deputies.

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