Prague - Entering the proverbial lion´s den, Czech President Václav Klaus paid a visit to the Green faction in the lower house of the parliament on Monday.
Knowing full well he stands a zero chance of getting their support when the two houses of the parliament meet on February 8 to elect the head of state, Klaus still asked for an audience with the six-member club.
They spent 90 minutes together with the predictable result.
"All we can say is that he certainly didn´t convince our party to vote for him," was how the Green Party leader Martin Bursík summarized it. "It only confirmed my decision to support (his rival Jan) Švejnar."
The Greens took the opportunity to grill the president on the issues where they hardly see eye to eye with each other, i.e. environment, climate change, confirmation of judges, the role of NGOs or the Czech Republic´s future in the European Union.
After their meeting was over, the two sides faced the press and they started off on a rather conciliatory tone: "We have managed to de-demonize certain topics," said Kateřina Jacques, the Greens´ parliamentary faction leader.
"I hope I managed to clarify to them where I stand and I hope it was useful," said Mr. Klaus, still smiling.
But then the Green Party chairman Martin Bursík spoke, saying the meeting only confirmed the worst fears of the Greens.
"Unfortunately, we heard (from the President) that protecting the climate is a tragical mistake. And to our surprise, we also learned that as far as biodiversity was concerned, not only is it not diminishing, but on the contrary the floral and animal species on the planet are increasing," Mr. Bursík said.
Hearing this, Mr. Klaus couldn´t conceal his anger. He called the statement unfair and visibly irritated, abruptly left.
He is supposed to attend a similar meeting with the Social Democratic Party faction in the Senate today together with his challenger Jan Švejnar. The debate will be televised.
Jan Švejnar enjoys full support of both the Green Party and the Social Democratic Party, but rumours have been circulating that some social democrats might be willing to give Mr. Klaus their vote in the election. The ballot will most likely be secret.