Zeman called his relationship with Putin a mistake. “Only a non-judgmental person would make such a tragic mistake as the attack on Ukraine. Of course it hurt Ukraine, but what people don’t realize is that this attack also hurt Russia in a huge way,” he said.
He did not want to comment on the successes of his political career, and he was equally reticent in his assessment of his successor. “As I said before, I can’t speak well of Petr Pavl and I don’t want to speak badly,” Zeman repeated. He refused to evaluate Pavlov’s actions at the Castle, but commented on the awarding of state honors, which took place at the Prague Castle last week.
“I was a little sorry that the tradition was broken, according to which those who were honored last year are guests in the Vladislav Hall,” said Zeman. According to him, the president can honor whomever he wants. “If it’s good or bad, let others judge that,” he added.
He mainly accused the current government of amateurism. “I don’t like that the Minister of Agriculture is a theologian, the Minister of Education is a musicologist, the Minister of Industry is a banker and the Minister of Finance has no economic education,” he said.
He also mentioned the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jan Lipavský, whom he criticized in the past for having only completed a bachelor’s degree. “I don’t like it, but I’m not angry about it and I accept it with a smile,” added Zeman.
The government spends unnecessarily, says Zeman
Zeman also criticized the government’s consolidation package. “Practically the entire public is affected by inflation or high prices. This is primarily caused by a significant deficit of the state budget,” he said.
“As the government spends, sometimes unnecessarily, the deficit grows. I proposed two measures to reduce or even stop this deficit,” said Zeman. “However, if the government follows the principle that we should buy super modern fighter jets, then the deficit will probably not decrease too much, and thus inflation will not decrease too much either. As a result, the standard of living will unfortunately decrease,” he added.
Zeman proposed, for example, the repeal of the law that repealed the super gross wage. According to him, this would save around 120 billion crowns. According to him, tax exemptions should also be abolished, which would save another 80 billion. “Since the structural deficit of the state budget is 200 billion crowns, these two measures would prevent inflation instead of the consolidation package, which increases taxes and lowers living standards,” explained Zeman.
According to Zeman, the opposition should have submitted one comprehensive amendment to the consolidation package, instead of several individual ones. “The opposition should be vigorous, but it should also be active. He should criticize, but he should have a positive alternative,” he added.
The Israeli secret service has failed, he believes
According to Zeman, there is a great risk that pro-Israel enthusiasm will decline in society and latent anti-Semitism will take over. According to him, it stems from envy of the Jews.
He agrees with the position of the Czech Republic on the conflict. “I agree with Petr Fiala. I am definitely not in agreement with Mr. Lipavský,” said Zeman. “I find his views today somewhat hypocritical. But one should forgive, and so I forgive,” he added.
But according to Zeman, the Israeli secret service failed. “I was embarrassed and thought, damn, this is like the CIA warning that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and they weren’t there. Such a secret service quirk should not happen,” he said. According to him, the secret services are to blame for the deaths of Israelis. “Being unprepared is a gross political mistake,” he added.
According to him, he has no fears about a bigger conflict, but he does have expectations. “I said that the first to engage would be Iran. It is a theocratic regime and Masaryk was profoundly right when he said that it is necessary to fight against theocracy. But then it was a tea against the Iranian theocracy,” he said.
According to Zeman, international organizations are also failing. “I fully understand Mrs. Černochová. Withdrawing from the UN would be an even bigger gesture to those pushing these resolutions,” he commented, noting that gestures play an important role in politics.
“Shedding crocodile tears over civilian casualties would only be justified if we wanted to destroy Hamas with minimal collateral damage, and that is not happening. When António Guterrés says to negotiate with Hamas, it is the same as if someone at the end of World War II said to negotiate with Heinrich Himmler,” added Zeman.