Sunday, April 25, 2021

Czech President Slams Moscow-Prague Embassy Row As Mutual Cannibalism - UrduPoint

Czech President Slams Moscow-Prague Embassy Row As Mutual Cannibalism

Czech President Milos Zeman on Sunday described the tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats by Prague and Moscow as "mutual cannibalism," stressing that a balanced bilateral partnership required the presence of a variety of diplomatic personnel.

On April 17, Prague declared 18 Russian diplomats personae non gratae over espionage allegations, to which Moscow retaliated by expelling 20 Czech diplomats. This launched a succession of further expulsions.

"I think that the mutual cannibalism of our embassies has reached a certain level and ended. Although some naive and even foolish [Czech] politicians suggested that the Russian embassy be left with only the ambassador and their driver. I consider these statements extreme. I understand that the Russian diplomatic mission will be significantly reduced. To cooperate on equals, we need economic, cultural and other experts [in our embassies]," Zeman told Czech broadcaster CNN Prima news.

The president said he was personally hurt by Moscow expelling 20 Czech diplomats.

"Those 20 people, expelled by the Russian side, did Russia no harm, so there was no reason for their expulsion. This is exactly what I call 'cannibalization of embassies,' which can result in that only the ambassador and their driver remain there really. I was hurt by this reaction from the Russian side," Zeman said.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis explained the initial expulsion of 18 Russian diplomats by their alleged links to the 2014 explosion of a Vrbetice ammunition depot.

By May 31, Moscow personnel in Prague is expected to shrink to 35 diplomats and 46 administrative and technical staff, while the Czech embassy in Russia will likely lose 16 diplomats, 4 administrative and technical workers and 91 local Russian employees, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

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