Czech president announces retreat from politics

At what was reported to be his last conference, Czech president Miloš Zeman told the media he wants to 'enjoy life again after a slight health trouble.' Staff

Written by Staff Published on 19.10.2022 11:17:00 (updated on 19.10.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

After three decades in politics, Miloš Zeman will retire from politics once he leaves Prague Castle at the end of his presidential mandate, ČTK reports. His retirement plans are to read books, watch history programs, and spend time in nature, the Czech president said during a visit to the Ústecký region.

"I am 78 years old, it seems to me that there are more beautiful things than politics, and books are one of them," he said, adding that he is happy to be "enjoying life again after a slight health trouble."

Zeman has been suffering from neuropathy in his feet as a result of diabetes and has been using a wheelchair when making official appearances. In October 2021, he was hospitalized in intensive care for an undisclosed illness. 

Zeman (left) during the meeting in Děčín. Photo via his official Facebook page.
Zeman (left) during the meeting in Děčín. Photo via his official Facebook page.

The trip to the Ústecký region included meetings with regional representatives in Ústí nad Labem, and in nearby Děčín, and lunch with the mayors of the municipalities of České Švýcarsko and with representatives of the rescue teams who fought a devastating forest fire in the region last summer, Aktuálně.cz reports.

Zeman's mandate expires in March 2023. Speaking about the presidential elections that will determine his successor, the Czech leader criticized the current system allowing candidates to be nominated by at least 20 lower house deputies or at least ten senators.

"I would cancel it. This is of one the failures of my political career that I failed to push this through," Zeman said. If some candidates are unable to win at least 50,000 signatures, that shows they don't have trust of even such as small part of the eight million voters in the country, he added.

During his time in office, Zeman became known for his pro-Russia and pro-China stance. Earlier this year, he said that in some areas China “has already overtaken the United States and has become a major technological superpower.”

However, as Euronews notes, Zeman changed his stance towards Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine this February.

Among other statements, he described Russian President Putin as a “madman,” adding “lunatics need to be isolated, and we must protect against them not only by words but by concrete measures.”

He also said that he felt “co-responsibility” for previously misreading of Putin’s intentions.

Still, some doubt that his remorse is genuine and not part of an attempt to sanitize his political legacy, says Sean Hanley, an associate professor in Central and Eastern European politics at University College London. Zeman “wishes to draw a veil over his pro-Russian policies with a sharp and, as far as it goes, credible mea culpa,” Hanley told Euronews.

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