Czech president closes the door to American ambassador

Local media said on Sunday that Czech leader Milos Zeman had “closed the door” of Prague Castle to U.S. Ambassador Andrew Schapiro after he made controversial comments about the president’s decision to join celebrations to mark the end of World War II in Russia.

EU leaders are boycotting the ceremony next month over Russia’s role in the Ukraine conflict.

However, Zeman had said he would attend the May 9 commemorations being held in the Russian capital, Moscow.

“I can’t imagine the Czech ambassador in Washington would give advice to the American president where to travel,” Zeman told news portal Parlamentni Listy. “I won’t let any ambassador have a say about my foreign travels.”

“Ambassador (Andrew) Schapiro has the door to the castle closed,” he added.

A presidential spokesman said that Schapiro could still attend social events at Prague Castle, the official residence of the Czech president.

Left out in the cold over comments

Schapiro had told Czech television that it would be “awkward” if Zeman attended the ceremony as the only statesmen from an EU country.

Zeman, a former prime minister, has frequently departed from the EU’s stance on the Ukraine crisis and criticized sanctions against Moscow.

Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany is marked each year in major Russian cities.

Schapiro overlapped with Barack Obama at Harvard Law School and also served on the Harvard Law Review. They remained friends and Schapiro and his wife, Tamar Newberger, were among Obama’s top fundraisers.

The reward for Schapiro, a white-collar defense litigator with absolutely no discernable foreign policy experience, was the posting to Prague.

The ambassador’s 72-room Beaux-Arts residence, built in the late 1920s by a Jewish businessman and once home to the late Shirley Temple Black, ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the 1989 Velvet Revolution, sits on six acres, and comes complete with a uniformed staff.

Obama nominees have a terrible record. The ludicrous ambassador to Norway, George Tsunis, didn’t know that the country, a constitutional monarchy, doesn’t have a president; the ambassador to Argentina, Noah Mamet, a Wall Street Journal op-ed, lamented “seemed not to understand basic facts about Argentina or the serious challenges that would confront our ambassador there,” and had never set foot in that country. And Colleen Bell, former Chicagoan and soap opera producer/writer, Obama’s nominee to take over the embassy in Budapest, could not answer the question, “What are our strategic interests in Hungary?”

Some 15 former presidents of the American Foreign Service Association, a trade union for members of the Foreign Service, wrote to Senate leaders as well as 11 other senators, asking that they reject Tsunis, Bell and Mamet, who, they wrote, have been “subjected to widespread ridicule, not only in the U.S. but also abroad.”

The reason to reject given by the former AFSA presidents is that “[the nominees] appear to have been chosen on the basis of their service in raising money for electoral campaigns.”

Schapiro’s family history worked in his favor too. Schapiro’s mother is said to be a Czech refugee from the Holocaust.

Source: Deutsche Welle/Chicagomag