Czech president criticizes EU for "lack of strong leaders" and "double standard" on Crimea

Czech President Miloš Zeman has criticized the European Union, saying it lacked strong leaders and that it used a double-standard when it came to Crimea. He made the statement in an interview with the Russian news agency TASS - days before he is to begin an official visit to Russia with a major Czech business delegation.

During the visit, Mr Zeman will meet with President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and also former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

In the interview, President Zeman compared Crimea to Kosovo, whose autonomy, he said, was guaranteed by the United Nations. Crimea's referendum on independence is not internationally recognized and move is seen as an illegal annexation for which Russia still suffers sanctions. Mr Zeman told TASS he was the only European politician who spoke about the issue in such a manner; the president has opposed the sanctions in the past, maintaining they did not work and should be lifted.

Author: Jan Velinger