Czech President Milos Zeman re-election means that official Prague has chosen to take a course towards economic development with Russia, RISS expert Oksana Petrovskaya considers.
“Let us recall a representative business delegation accompanying the Czech President during his visit to Russia in November 2017. The Czechs, unlike the Poles, are the pragmatists and understand that anti-Russian sanctions are not useful for economic development. This is the main motivating point for Prague’s position in relation to Russia,” the expert said.
According to her, the Russian-Czech relations will develop in those directions where it is possible. During Zeman's visit was signed a lot of business contracts. The Czech Republic is not only a major market for Russian goods, but also a consumer of Russian gas.
“We should take into consideration that the strengthened position of several EU member states considering lifting anti-Russian sanctions will not influence on the general Brussels’ trend of sanctions pressure on Moscow,” the expert said. O.Petrovskaya is not sure that Zeman will officially raise this issue at EU level in the near future. A number of countries, particularly Hungary and Bulgaria, want to lift the sanctions, but it is obvious that any country officially expressing its position on this subject will be looking like a “black sheep” in the background of the EU common position.
In expert’s position, the trend of sanctions pressure, of course, will be slightly weakened given the positions of a number of EU countries that are not full members of the European Union and seek access to the Russian market. Therefore, the development of economic ties with Moscow is largely motivated by the interest of these countries.
Zeman’s victory strengthens the position of the entire Visegrad group (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary). The exception is the position of Slovakia, which is a little bit isolated, as Bratislava doesn’t want to quarrel with Brussels. It should be noted that the current Polish opposition supported Jiri Dragos during the elections, but the ruling circles wanted Zeman to come to power. “The main thing for the official Warsaw is that together with Zeman it will be easy to push the right solutions at EU level,” RISS expert said.