Zeman under fire after Arafat "Hitler" comparison in Israeli paper
Prime Minister Milos Zeman is not a man to mince his words - his reputation for showering opponents with vitriolic abuse goes unchallenged in Czech politics. Until now he has reserved that abuse for critics at home and in neighbouring countries such as Austria, but on Monday - during an official visit to Israel - he waded into the Middle East conflict with a vengeance, with an Israeli newspaper claiming he had drawn parallels between the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Adolf Hitler. Rob Cameron has more.
His comments have drawn an angry reaction from the Palestinians, and have been described by the European Union's Council of Ministers as "unacceptable." But Mr Zeman himself says he was misquoted, telling Czech Radio he did not say "of course" but "I don't want to name names."
The explanation has done little to satisfy Mr Zeman's critics, who say the comments are the latest in a recent flurry of highly undiplomatic outbursts that are harming the Czech Republic's interests abroad. Jan Urban is a commentator for Radio Free Europe.
"Mr Zeman is going out of his way to present the Czech Republic as the most irresponsible and least trustworthy candidate country for European Union entry. Never in the history of Czechoslovakia since 1918 and the Czech Republic since 1993 have we had anybody saying such stupid and irresponsible things as he's been saying in the last two months. I just think that he really should close his mouth and disappear from politics."