President Zeman Maintains Opposition To Appointment of Hladik As Environment Minister

Zeman said he did not consider his refusal to appoint Hladik anti-constitutional. Credit: 

Prague, Jan 8 (CTK) – President Milos Zeman told Prime Minister Petr Fiala about his negative stance towards Petr Hladik’s nomination for environment minister at their New Year lunch on Monday, he said on a programme on the Frekvence 1 radio station released online this morning, adding that he will not change his mind and does not believe he is violating the constitution.

Frekvence 1 will broadcast the Presidential Press club programme at 6pm this evening.

Zeman said he had four objections to Hladik (KDU-CSL), though KDU-CSL chairman and Deputy PM Marian Jurecka discussed only one of them during his Wednesday visit to Prague Castle.

Alongside the continuing corruption investigation into the murky allocation of municipal flats in Brno, in which Hladik was also questioned, Zeman expressed concern over Hladik’s insufficient expertise in the environmental sphere and the fact that he published an advert in the party paper seeking a deputy minister and other aides for his future team at the Environment Ministry.

Zeman also said he did not consider his refusal to appoint Hladik anti-constitutional, as the government coalition has claimed. The Czech Constitution only says the prime minister proposes a minister, which means that the president can either accept or reject such a proposal, Zeman argued.

“The constitution clearly says that the prime minister proposes a minister. The word proposal has an absolutely clear meaning in Czech. It is something you can either accept or reject,” Zeman said.

The respective article of the constitution says the president appoints the prime minister, and at the PM’s suggestion, the president appoints other cabinet ministers and entrusts them with heading the ministries or other offices.

Zeman told the radio interview that he had already discussed his position with Fiala (ODS) and would not revise it.

The Christian Democrats decided on Friday to uphold the nomination, and that Hladik would temporarily become a deputy environment minister. The party expects the end of Zeman’s mandate in March to solve the matter.

“It is up to the future president how they decide on this,” Zeman said.

The president also said he considered it loyal to inform the PM beforehand about his stance, so as not to surprise each other.

Zeman said that Hladik had failed to convince the president over his reservations. “Out of the four reservations, he refuted only one, the least significant one,” Zeman added.

He said it was a concern that the police would keep investigating the case that has halted the process of Hladik’s nomination for months. In such circumstances, he would consider the appointment “ill-considered,” said Zeman.

The president said it was not appropriate in his opinion that Hladik had advertised posts at the ministry in the party paper before his appointment. He considers Hladik’s response, that acting minister Jurecka had asked him to do so, as insufficient.

The last reservation is that Hladik does not have sufficient expertise and has not published articles in professional journals.

Zeman added that he viewed the case of the privatisation of municipal flats in Brno as serious, impacting several parties, including KDU-CSL.

In 2021 when Fiala’s government of ODS, KDU-CSL and TOP 09 and the Pirates/Mayors and Independents (PirSTAN) alliance was formed, Zeman refused to appoint Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) as foreign minister, criticising his credentials and his relations with Israel and the Visegrad Four Group, and recommending that Lipavsky give up the nomination. Fiala said then he would not change nominations for members of the government and Zeman eventually agreed to appoint Lipavsky.

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