Call me a truth fighter. Klaus defends his presidency

Petr Holub
25. 1. 2008 20:30
Czech president gives 30-minute interview to private TV
Being grilled or giving a lecture? (President  Klaus being interviewed on TV Nova)
Being grilled or giving a lecture? (President Klaus being interviewed on TV Nova) | Foto: reprodukce vysílání TV Nova

Prague - Often derided for allegedly harming the reputation of his country by freely speaking his mind on topics ranging from European integration to climate change, the Czech President made it clear yesterday that people cannot expect anything else from him.

"President has a duty to fight for the truth. That's what he has to keep doing," he said in a 30-minute interview broadcast live on private TV channel NOVA yesterday.

Mr. Klaus will be seeking re-election in two weeks' time and he used the opportunity to defend some of his controversial statements and actions which have marked his five years in office.

Ups and downs

Asked about his biggest mistake, Klaus admitted he should have spared the Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg, whose loyalty to the country he questioned when first told of the long-time resident of neighboring Austria's nomination for the ministerial post.

V úterý před polednem jmenoval prezident Klaus druhou vládu Mirka Topolánka, k níž neskrýval své výhrady. S novým ministrem zahraničí Karlem Schwarzenbergem byl prezident spokojen nejméně.
V úterý před polednem jmenoval prezident Klaus druhou vládu Mirka Topolánka, k níž neskrýval své výhrady. S novým ministrem zahraničí Karlem Schwarzenbergem byl prezident spokojen nejméně. | Foto: Ondřej Besperát

"It would have been much wiser of me not to criticise him," he confessed, quickly adding that the relationship between the two men was now spotless.

He also prided himself on extensively travelling together with his wife Lívia across the Czech lands - he allegedly traversed across the country more than all his predecessors have done altogether.  

Being reminded of his stated determination to prevent the new National Library building construction even if it meant tying himself to an excavator, he said it was merely a playful remark.

Read more: Letná still the likeliest site for the Prague blob

No bias against the Left

Commenting on what the public generally perceives as a pitiful state of the political culture in the country, Klaus insisted it took a notable turn for the worse with the leader of the Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) Jiří Paroubek entering the scene.

Embodiment of political coarseness? (Mr. Paroubek)
Embodiment of political coarseness? (Mr. Paroubek) | Foto: Ondřej Besperát

Social Democrats have been an archrival of Klaus's own Civic Democratic Party (ODS), of which he is chairman emeritus, since the mid 1990s. But Klaus categorically denied in the interview that he has been biased against the left-wing parties. 

When reminded of a dozen of presidential vetoes he used between March and April 2006 to defeat the Social Democrat-led government´s bills, Klaus defended his actions:

"I certainly did not fight the Social Democrats´ administration. The laws were slapdash and drawn shortly before the government´s end of term, that means right before the election," Klaus explained.

The green link to high inflation

Towards the end of the interview Klaus´s favorite topic - economics - came up. He firmly insisted that Czechs have indeed been experiencing the best period of their history, as he had stated in his New Year´s Day speech.  

Read more: Klaus: Czechs have never had it so good

Conceding that the current wave of price hikes can pose difficulties to many people, he denied that the inflation could be caused by the reform efforts of the current government. While admitting that the reforms are not perfect, he believes they are a step i the right direction.

The major reason for the high inflation rate is not the fiscal responsibility of the state, he said, but "the global warming hysteria that results in high energy prices". These then affect product prices in other fields of economy, the President added.

Read more: Klaus in Berlin: Freedom, not climate, is under threat

Secret means fair

The forthcoming presidential election, scheduled for February 8, was mentioned only briefly. Klaus is convinced he will win a second term.

Read more: ODS: The deal is done, Klaus will be re-elected

President Klaus mentoring at Western Bohemian University in Pilsen
President Klaus mentoring at Western Bohemian University in Pilsen | Foto: Tomáš Adamec, Aktuálně.cz

"I am an optimist sportsman who is ready to fight to the end," he said while stressing the importance of the election pocess being as fair as possible.

Klaus made it clear he would like the vote to stay secret as it had been five years ago when nobody was checking on the lawmakers' ballot papers, something which is being proposed now, especially by the MPs from ČSSD, who are supporting Klaus's main rival Jan Švejnar for the presidency.

During the 30 minutes of the interview, Mr. Švejnar's name was not mentioned once. TV Nova does not plan to give the other candidate the same opportunity before the election.

The interview was not meant to be a pre-election platform for Mr. Klaus, the privately owned TV explained, but rather an opportunity for the viewers to hear the head of state give his definitive verdict on the past five years in the office.


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