Czech leader backs Trump, calls EU states 'cowards'

PRAGUE • Czech President Milos Zeman on Saturday accused European Union states of being "cowards" in their response to his US counterpart Donald Trump recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"The European Union, cowards, are doing all they can so a pro-Palestinian terrorist movement can have supremacy over a pro-Israeli movement," said Mr Zeman, presenting himself as a defender of Israel.

The 73-year-old leader, who is targeting a second term from next month and had said on Friday he was happy with Mr Trump's move, was speaking on Saturday at a congress of the far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy party, which opposes immigration and the EU.

Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday. The move angered Palestinian leaders, but Israel hailed it as historic.

Mr Zeman said he had spoken in favour of Prague moving the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on a visit four years ago - a proposal that met with a reserved political response in his homeland.

Following Mr Trump's announcement, the Czech Foreign Ministry said it saw Jerusalem as the future capital both of Israel and a future Palestinian state, and Prague could consider moving its embassy only after consulting regional partners.

The EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini warned on Thursday that Mr Trump's move had a "very worrying potential impact" and could take the region "backwards to even darker times than the ones we're already living in".

Ms Mogherini said "the aspirations of both parties must be fulfilled and a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Czech leader backs Trump, calls EU states 'cowards''. Print Edition | Subscribe