‘Cries from Neanderthal cave’: Czech Republic & Ukraine trade jibes over Crimea

The Czech presidential spokesman described comments by “some” Kiev politicians as “cries from a Neanderthal cave.” The Czech leader had said that Russia could compensate Kiev for Crimea, and the Ukrainian PM subsequently questioned his mental health.

“I consider the rude attacks by some Ukrainian politicians on the president [of Czech Republic, Milos Zeman] as cries from a Neanderthal cave. They have no place in modern Europe,” Jiri Ovcacek wrote.

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman had earlier remarked that only a person with mental issues would say that Russia could “compensate” Kiev for Crimea, responding to a comment made by Zeman.

“A [mentally] healthy person would never say such a thing, but it is possible that a mentally ill person may [make such a remark],” Vladimir Groysman told journalists on Thursday.

The top Ukrainian official stressed that Czech people “are absolutely nice and clever,” but added that among them there are people “who sometime make insane statements that we witness today.”

On Tuesday, Zeman made headlines after saying that Russia could “compensate” Ukraine for Crimea with money or oil.

Speaking to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in France two days earlier, he had said that in his opinion “there will be some compensation for Ukraine [for losing Crimea].”

That may be done in form of “either money, oil or gas,” he said.

Zeman also urged European politicians to accept the secession of the peninsula from Ukraine as “fait accompli.” He noted that an attempt to try and return Crimea to Ukraine “will mean a European war.”

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The comments prompted Ukraine’s PACE representatives to stage a walkout. Russia has also rejected the idea.

“Crimea is not the subject of haggling or transactions,” Leonid Slutsky, the chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in the Russian Duma, said. However, he welcomed the Czech leader’s comments on the status of the peninsula.

Zeman also urged Moscow and Kiev to develop closer economic and diplomatic ties, pointing to non-controversial initiatives such as student exchanges as a starting point.

The Czech Senate condemned the president for his statement, saying in a resolution that by suggesting Russian compensation for Crimea the president “legitimized aggression that violates international law,” Ceske Noviny reported.

Ovcacek defended the head of state by saying that Zeman “didn’t legalize the annexation of Crimea, but expressed a balanced and realistic opinion.”

Crimea held a referendum after the 2013 uprising and ensuing coup in Ukraine. The peninsula reunited with Russia following a plebiscite on whether to do so in March 2014, in which 97 percent voted in favor.

The result remains unrecognized by Kiev and the West; Moscow insists the vote was conducted in accordance with international law.

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