Czech official against Havel´s foreign policy excessive criticism


23.08.2014 14:49

Prague - The criticism of foreign policy pursued by former Czech president Vaclav Havel, pronounced by First Deputy Foreign Minister Petr Drulak recently, should not be over-estimated, Havel´s close aide Michael Zantovsky, now ambassador to Britain, told CTK today.


Kritika na adresu zahraniční politiky prosazované prezidentem Václavem Havlem, kterou před časem vyslovil první náměstek ministra zahraničí Petr Drulák, by se neměla přeceňovat. V rozhovoru pro ČTK to řekl bývalý blízký spolupracovník prvního polistopadového prezidenta a v současnosti velvyslanec ve Velké Británii Michael Žantovský (na snímku z 22. srpna). Havlova politika, kladoucí důraz na dodržování lidských práv, podle něj čelila kritice už od doby, kdy bývalý disident nastoupil na Pražský hrad. ČTK Vondrouš Roman

Zantovsky said the emphasis Havel, former dissident and first Czechoslovak post-communist president and later Czech head of state, put on human rights observance was criticised from the moment Havel became president.

Havel was Czechoslovak president in 1989-1992 and Czech president in 1993-2003. He died in 2011 aged 75.

The foreign policy pursued by the current left-centre coalition government is seeking an improvement in relations even with countries that are criticised for their attitude to human rights, including China.

Its critics include the opposition and the press, which speaks about a deviation from Havel´s bequest. Drulak said Havel´s foreign political concept is erroneous and detrimental.

"I would not overestimate it," Zantovsky said. "Havel´s foreign policy as well as the extent of attention he paid to human rights observance started when he became president," Zantovsky said.

Zantovsky, 65, was ambassador to the United States and later to Israel after he left the post of Havel´s spokesman in 1992. Now he is ambassador to Britain.

He mentioned the outcry provoked by Havel´s regret at the post-war resettlement of Sudeten Germans [based on then president Edvard Benes´s decrees] and his decision to halt arms exports to some problematic third world countries.

"This aroused great resistance particularly in Slovakia," Zantovsky said.

Armament industry was a big source of money for Slovakia.

Zantovsky said, however, it is true that the foreign policy pursued under Havel presented Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic as a responsible country and part of the international community and it opened up its way to NATO and the European Union.

"It also opened our access to foreign investments that were among the biggest in the post-communist part of the world for a long time," Zantovsky said.

"It is a question of whether the advantages and profits from this policy prevailed over its costs because the costs exist naturally," Zantovsky said.

Zantovsky has written a biography of Havel that will be published in October in the Czech Republic under the title "Havel" and later in Britain, Germany, the United States and other countries. The foreign edition will be called "Havel. A Life."

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