Czech president 'bans US ambassador from Prague Castle' over Russia visit
President Milos Zeman has “closed the door” of Prague Castle to the US ambassador following comments perceived as critical of his decision to attend a second world war commemoration in Moscow, according to local media reports on Sunday.
European Union leaders are boycotting the ceremony in May over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict but Zeman – who has frequently departed from the EU line – has said he will attend.
“I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel,”
Zeman told news portal Parlamentni Listy. “I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels.“
“Ambassador [Andrew] Schapiro has the door to the castle closed.“
A presidential spokesman told local media Schapiro could still attend social events at the official residence of the Czech president.
Schapiro told Czech television earlier this week it would be “awkward” should Zeman attend the ceremony as the only statesmen from an EU country.
Zeman, a former prime minister, has criticised sanctions against Moscow. The Czech government, which is responsible for foreign policy, has held the EU line.
The Czech presidency is largely a ceremonial role but Zeman – the first president to be directly elected, taking office in 2013 - is outspoken on his views on both domestic and foreign policy.
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