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Austria could be an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine, Zeman said.

Austria could be an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine, Zeman said.

Thanks to its neutral status, Austria could play the role of a mediator in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Czech President Milos Zeman said on Thursday after talks with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, who arrived in Prague on a visit.

“I told the President (of Austria) that the neutrality of Austria, in a certain context, may allow it to play a mediating role in the case of Ukraine and Russia. A country that is not neutral, of course, cannot play such a role. Of course, I do not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, I only noticed that in a certain context – for example, when it comes to the role of an intermediary – neutrality can be a benefit,” the Czech President said.

Earlier, Zeman spoke about the possibility of mediation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine by Beijing and Belgrade.

According to Zeman, his views on the situation around Ukraine are similar to those of the guest from Vienna. In turn, Van der Bellen highly appreciated the comprehensive support of Ukraine from the Czech Republic. The Austrian President also noted that although his country is militarily neutral, neutrality does not mean indifference. Van der Bellen also called it important that the EU countries stick together and do not allow themselves to be divided.

On Thursday, Van der Bellen is also scheduled to meet with Czech President-elect Petr Pavel, Senate President Milos Vystrcil and Prime Minister Petr Fiala. Van der Bellen’s visit to Prague took place as part of the farewell to Zeman as head of the Czech Republic. Zeman’s second five-year term in Prague Castle expires on March 8, the next day Pavel’s inauguration will take place. Earlier, Zeman met or spoke via video link with the leaders of a number of other states. On Friday, the guest of the head of the Czech Republic will be Hungarian President Katalina Novak, who will also meet with Pavel.