Friday, 18 January 2019

Drahoš against, Zeman for referendum in presidential debate

26 January 2018

Prague, Jan 25 (CTK) - Decisions on basic affairs in referendums are dangerous, presidential candidate academic Jiri Drahos said in the presidential debate on Czech Television on Thursday, citing Brexit, while President Milos Zeman said this had offended Britons and that he was for the plebiscite.

Drahos also promised that if he were elected, the head of the Presidential Office would have to get the top security clearance.

The question was prompted by the debate over whether Vratislav Mynar, now head of Zeman's Presidential Office, should be fired because he did not have it.

Some time ago, Zeman promised to sack Mynar in such a case. However, Mynar has appealed against the decision of the National Security Office which did not grant the clearance to him.

Zeman said he expected the court decision to come within months.

Drahos stressed that the Czech Republic was not Switzerland with its long-time tradition.

He said he did not know who of the citizens were able to assess whether the departure from the EU was right or wrong, mentioning the example of Britain.

"I think this is an offence of Britons. They made a free decision and it should be respected," Zeman said.

They also discussed Drahos's suspicion that Russian secret services are trying to influence the election in the Czech Republic.

"I stand by what I said," Drahos said, adding that his team had an analysis of hateful e-mail made. It is evident that they come from pro-Russian servers, he added.

"We are considering filing an action," he added.

Zeman said according to his information a lawsuit was being prepared over the suspicion of scare-mongering.

Zeman admitted that he had made a mistake when speaking vulgarly in public.

Drahos, a former head of the Czech Academy of Science, denied the doubts about his political experience.

"I am no political newcomer," Drahos said.

He said no university existed for the post of prime minister and he wished he did not have the political experience of his rival.

In his final message to voters, Zeman asked them to come to the polling stations because those who will not do so may sway the result.

Drahos said in his own message that he was the candidate looking into the future. Zeman has nothing to choose to the nation, he added.

The debate was watched by the record 2.6 million viewers in the 10.5 million Czech Republic.

The first duel on the commercial television station Prima was watched by 2.2 million people on Tuesday.

In the first presidential election, between Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg, the final debate was seen by roughly one million fewer people five years ago.

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