Interview

Zeman: Czechs are a bit hypocritical

In an exclusive interview with Blesk, President Miloš Zeman commented on the upcoming EP elections and praised the Czech government’s plans to introduce a 7 percent digital tax.

An interview with President Zeman, broadcasted on the Blesk internet television channel, has attracted considerable media attention. The President commented on the upcoming European Parliamentary elections and the Czech attitude to the EU.

President Zeman also praised the Czech Republic’s planned digital tax and reviewed his last visit to China, where he was accompanied by Czech hockey legend Jaromír Jágr.

Czech confidence in the European Union is declining. According to a survey by Phoenix Research for Blesk, only 45 percent of respondents are satisfied with the EU membership. Czechs blame Brussels for its weak ability to deal with urgent issues, such as the refugee crisis as well as the “penetration” of the EU into everyday life. On the other hand, however, not even one-fifth of Czech voters cast their votes during the elections five years ago.

Zeman partly attributes the Czechs' attitude to the elections to Czech skepticism and perceives the EU membership positively, especially given the net profit of 750 billion CZK in 15 years. The low interest in elections, however, the President perceives negatively. He recalls that in 1989 Czechs called for free elections. "Now we have them, and there is as many as 80 percents of voters not going to the Senate elections, much like the European elections. So we are a bit hypocritical. I personally will go to the European elections,” Zeman said.

Former President Václav Klaus compared EU membership to buying a Titanic ticket. In response to this statement, Zeman states that we have the rudder of this Titanic in our hands. On the other hand, the President is worried about a possible "crash" that could be caused by a growing European bureaucracy with literally thousands of its orders, regulations, and directives.

Regarding domestic politics, Zeman commented on the intention that the Czech government recently came up with, planning to impose a 7 percent digital tax on internet giants such as Google and Facebook. Zeman appreciated this move, saying that a 7 percent tax is a good path to take, and he reminded that Austria, thanks to a similar tax, collected approximately 5 billion CZK, which the President considers an interesting amount.

Zeman also returned to his recent visit to China, where he was accompanied by Czech hockey legend Jaromír Jágr. In 2010, Jágr received the Medal of Merit of the 2nd Grade from the then President Václav Klaus. The editor of Blesk asked Zeman whether it is was time to give the hockey player higher state honors, and President Zeman said: “Thank you for the tip”. Thus, according to the media, he indirectly confirmed that Jaromír Jágr will receive honors this year. If so, Jágr would be decorated along with war veteran Emil Boček. Zeman had previously told the media that he has already informed Boček that he is to receive the highest state honor this year.  

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