Czech President Miloš Zeman declared on Wednesday (9 November) he was “very happy” with Donald Trump’s election victory, saying the Republican cut through political correctness and addressed key issues like migration.
Zeman, who does not steer day-to-day policies, had already endorsed Trump in September, before his election.
“I would like to cordially congratulate Donald Trump. I had, as one of few European politicians, declared public support for this candidate… because I agree with his opinions on migration as well as the fight against Islamic terrorism,” Zeman told reporters in a rare press briefing at the Prague Castle.
Zeman’s reaction chimed with Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán but contrasted with shock in many European capitals.
Unlike the current Czech centre-left administration, Zeman shares Trump’s warm relations toward Russian leader Vladimir Putin and opposition to liberal and academic elites.
Zeman has said that Ukraine cannot recover Crimea, which was annexed by Russia, and opposed EU sanctions against Russia. He was the only Western leader to attend the May 2015 celebrations in Moscow to mark the end of World War Two.
The Czech president also made headlines when he chose to attend a rally against refugees and Islam in Prague in 2015, on the anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution, which peacefully toppled Communism in then Czechoslovakia.
Following criticism from Washington, Zeman banned the US ambassador from visiting his office.
But now apparently this page is turned.
“I appreciate Donald Trump’s public demeanour, he speaks clearly, sometimes roughly, but understandably, and avoids what is sometimes called political correctness,” Zeman said.
He said the election showed American voters’ resistance to manipulation by the media, another frequent target of both Trump and Zeman.
The Czech president said he had sent congratulations to Trump and invited him to visit the Czech Republic, the birthplace of Trump’s ex-wife Ivana.
Earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Trump had won on “aggressive populism” but added he believed the United States would remain a reliable partner and ally.