By Herb Keinon and Greer Fay Cashman, February 18, 2002
Using uncompromising language towards Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser
Arafat rarely heard in public by a foreign leader, visiting Czech Prime Minister
Milos Zeman said Israel must absolutely not compromise with terrorists.
Drawing on Czechoslovakia’s experience during World War II, when the allies
sought to appease Germany by sacrificing the Czech Sudetenland to Hitler,
“You cannot negotiate with terrorists because the single response of
terrorists for fulfilling their demands is blackmail – new demands, nothing more.”
“This was our experience with the regime of Adolph Hitler,” Zeman said. “In
1936 he could have been defeated by two French divisions during the
occupation of the Rhineland, and there was no courage by democratic countries
because of the appeasement policy. I wonder whether there is no repetition of
this danger of appeasement, the willingness for compromises which leads to
Zeman, on a two-day visit here as the head of a large Czech delegation
including government and business leaders, made his comments at a press
conference after meeting Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
Zeman said Israel should negotiate with political opponents, but “cannot
negotiate with people who kill civilians for political purposes.” Zeman said the
only way to deal with terrorists is to fight them.
Asked specifically if Israel should negotiate with Arafat, or whether he is a
terrorist, the Czech prime minister said, “Any political leader who tolerates
political terrorism as a legitimate tool for his political campaign – is a terrorist.
“You know the English expression – if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck,
tastes like a duck – then it is a duck,” he said.
Zeman had a similar message for President Moshe Katsav as well.
Following his meeting with Katsav, Zeman told reporters terrorism is a
worldwide problem that requires a complex approach to fight.
Zeman told Katsav he had come to Israel to demonstrate the Czech Republic’s
solidarity with Israel’s ongoing battle against terrorism, which, he said, is not
the challenge of any one nation.
Katsav told Zeman it was intolerable that Iran, a nation which routinely
threatens Israel’s existence, remains a member of the United Nations, or that
Syria, which provides a haven for at least 10 known terrorist organizations, is a
member of the UN Security Council.
Following the meeting with Zeman, Katsav said he was gratified there are
statesmen who understand the complexities of the conflict and know how to
approach it. If all European leaders shared Zeman’s attitude, Katsav said, there
would be a dramatic decrease in terrorism.