Milos Zeman is the current (third) President of the Czech Republic, a NATO member nation. Formerly, he served as the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (1998 – 2002), Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies (1996 – 1998) and Leader of the Social Democratic Party (1993 – 2001).
Early Life and Education
Milos Zeman was born on 28 September 1944 in Kolin. As his parents got divorced within the next two years, Zeman was fully raised by his mother. Under a teacher mother, Zeman started schooling at an early age. Then, he went to the University of Economics for an undergraduate degree. He graduated in 1969.
Already 72 years old now, Milos Zeman is married two times in his lifetime. The first marriage was with Blanka Zemanova in 1971, and the couple had a child, David, and parted their ways in 1978. After going out for a while with assistant Ivana Bednarcikova, Zeman married her in 1993. They have a daughter named Katerina.
Reportedly, Zeman’s wife Zemanova tries to avoid any media attention. In addition, Zeman likes to drink.
While in third year at the University of Economics, Zeman joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Two years later, he was ousted because of varying political ideologies. He remained an independent until 1990, when he joined Civic Forum. The following year, he moved to the Civic Movement Party for a year. In 1992, Zeman joined the Social Democratic Party and stayed attached to it until 2009. Since 2009, he is affiliated to the Party of Civic Rights.
Between 1989 and 2013, Milos Zeman served the country by leading several governmental positions. Starting on 28 February 1993, Zeman succeeded Jiri Horak as Leader of the Social Democratic Party. Three years later, he was appointed to the post of Speaker of the Chamber of the Deputies as a successor of Vaclav Havel. He held the post until 17 July 1998. Soon after leaving the office of Speaker, Zeman became the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and assumed the office on 22 July 1998. He led the country as Prime Minister for a full four-year term. A year before leaving the office of PM, Zeman also left the leadership of the Social Democratic Party.
After leaving Prime Minister’s office in 2002, Milos Zeman remained quite passive in the Czech Republican politics. However, he made a striking comeback by announcing presidential candidacy for 2013 direct presidential elections in February 2012. Even after all these years, Zeman remained influential among his citizens. So, he was given a clear victory against Karel Schwarzenberg. Zeman assumed the office on 8 March 2013.
So far, Zeman’s presidency has led the Czech Republic to be better by economic and political stability. Currently, the unemployment rate has gone down to 5.3% and the inflation rate is at a desirable 2%. However, GDP growth is a stable rate and GNI per capita is constantly decreasing. These mixed economic achievements have earned Zeman an approval rating of 49%.
Initially, Milos Zeman became the point of criticism because of his uncivilized drinking habit. He even appeared drunk during television interviews and exhibitions. Besides this personal habit, Zeman has made several criticisable mistakes which have sparked gossips in the past. One of those moments was when he appointed his friend Jiri Rusnok as nation’s Prime Minister. This move was controversial because people thought such a use of power is a violation of parliamentary democracy.
In addition to abuse of power, Zeman is also not liked for being pro-Russia and using public vulgarism. Likewise, his stance on Islam has, at times, diplomatic tensions with the Arabic nations, especially Saudi Arabia. The other instance that adversely affected Czech Republic’s foreign ties is when Zeman referred to ethnic Germans as Hitler’s Fifth Column. This short phrase led to German Chancellor canceling an official visit to Prague.
- Czech Republic: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Lion, 7 March 2013
- Czech Republic Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, 7 March 2013
- Germany: Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 5 May 2014
- Slovakia: Order of the White Double Cross, 27 May 2014
- Jordan: Order of al-Hussein bin Ali, February 2015
- Poland: Order of White Eagle, 15 March 2016
- Slovenia: Order for Exceptional Merits, 18 February 2016
- Macedonia: Order 8-September, 9 June 2016
Trump and Zeman
Czech Republican President Zeman and US President Trump hold similar stance on several issues – they only differ on the extent of their stance. While Trump once said that climate change is a hoax, Zeman believes that global warming cannot be due to human acts. Likewise, both Presidents are pro-Russia, holding a strong desire to build further relation with Moscow.
On the hot issue of Islamic Terrorism, President Zeman and President Trump seem largely concerned and often tend to undermine the fact that Islam isn’t terrorism. Alongside Trump, Zeman also puts himself on the side of opposing migrant quotas. Trump has repeatedly said that letting refugees enter the country might increase terrorism on the grounds that the migrant officials won’t know if refugees are associated with ISIS or any terrorist groups.
With similar views on the table, the two leaders are getting along well at the moment. President Trump has even invited Czech counterpart Zeman for a presidential visit in April.