President scrambles to save face
Both the Castle and the Sobotka government have argued that the precise programme of events on the president’s schedule – including attendance, or not, at the parade – is not yet known. It all sounds a bit like: “Why unfasten your belt when the ford is
still over the hill?” Naturally, it is entirely possible that Zeman really will not be saluting Russian troops from a Kremlin podium. Even so, the president has already done major harm to the interests of the Czech Republic.
Ovčáček emphasised that decisions made by Zeman were not affected by any criticism directed at the Castle over the Moscow trip. Members of both the coalition and opposition have expressed their disagreement with Zeman attending the planned military parade. The president agreed on a bilateral meeting with Robert Fico during a telephone conversation, according to Ovčáček.
However, the Office of the Slovak Government has declined to confirm the meeting. According to news site Pravda.sk, Fico has said: “I have said it repeatedly, and will say it again that I will seek to find the most appropriate means to honour the victims of WWII, and how to mark the end of this conflict. With regards to 9 May, my plans will be revealed publicly in good time, available to all interested parties, including the media.” Meanwhile, Slovak President Andrej Kiska has previously stated he will not be travelling to Moscow.