published: 19.10.2012, 18:39 | updated: 19.10.2012 18:39:54
Prague - Czech presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg, foreign minister and TOP 09 chairman, would like to follow up the legacy of the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, defend freedom and openness and try to return the Czech Republic respect in the EU and the world, he said today.
Schwarzenberg, 74,presented his vision of presidency at a press conference launching his campaign ahead of the first direct presidential election in the country to be held in January, 2013.
Until now, the president was elected by the two houses of parliament.
Schwarzenberg called Havel (1936-2011), Czechoslovak President in December 1989-1992 and Czech President in January 1993-February 2003, his "unattainable role model."
According to public opinion polls, Schwarzenberg does not rank among the presidential election´s favourites. He admitted that his candidacy will be "swimming against the tide."
People can acquaint themselves with Schwarzenberg´s views in a new book by journalist Karel Hvizdala, named "Knizeci rozhovory" (Prince Talks With Karel Schwarzenberg). It follows Hvizdala´s previous book on Schwarzenberg, "Knizeci zivot" (A Prince´s Life).
Schwarzenberg, a descendant of an old noble family, worked as head of Havel´s Presidential Office in the past.
"Consequently I was really learning what this office was about from an excellent teacher," he said.
"We must preserve the freedom for which we have been fighting so long," Schwarzenberg told reporters.
In this respect, he pointed to the results of the October 12-23 regional elections in which the left wing won and the Communists (KSCM) strengthened their position. The polls' results show that the Czech Republic has been pursuing too much one particular direction lately, he said.
The president should not meddle into politics very much but he should see to it that balance, openness, justice and freedom rule in the Czech Republic, Schwarzenberg said.
He noted that if the coalition government of the Civic Democrats (ODS), TOP 09 and LIDEM collapsed, he would have more time for his presidential campaign.
In his presidential programme, Schwarzenberg has clearly set himself against the current eurosceptical President Vaclav Klaus, whose second and last five-year term in office expires in early March 2013.
He added that he would like to restore the country's respect in the EU and the world.
Schwarzenberg said as head of state he would like to more use the president's power to assign tasks to the intelligence services to reveal corruption practices at the top level.
Presidential candidate Zuzana Roithova, MEP for the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), recently expressed the same intention.
Schwarzenberg also offered a change in the political style and support for new, morally strong people in politics to voters.
He said he would not keep silent about the rising influence of extremism and would care for socially weak groups.
The president should promote human rights no matter whether it is advantageous for the Czech Republic or not, Schwarzenberg pointed out.
He recently sharply criticised the statements by Prime Minister Petr Necas (ODS), saying support for the Tibetan Dalai Lama and Russian activists from the group Pussy Riot could threaten Czech exports to these countries.
Commenting on another presidential power, Schwarzenberg said he would like to appoint representatives of various opinions, selected carefully, to the banking council of the central bank.
He also said the history of his family had rooted deep patriotism in him.
Schwarzenberg's team plans a contact campaign in the months to come in which he will meet citizens. He will also feature on election billboards.
The campaign should not lack humour, its organisers said.
Schwarzenberg himself funded his campaign with two million crowns, TOP 09 added five million and another million was recently sent by the Mayors and Independents (STAN), TOP 09's partner movement.
Within the forthcoming campaign, Schwarzenberg´s fans will be offered to wear T-shirts with the inscription Karel Is Not Dead, a variant of the Punk Is Not Dead Slogan and probably also hinting at the apprehensions some people feel about the health of Schwarzenberg, who in 2008 underwent a heart surgery.
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