published: 14.03.2013, 17:28 | updated: 14.03.2013 17:42:54
Prague - Brief profile of Vlastimil Picek, 56, Czech first deputy defence minister and former chief of staff, who will probably be defence minister.
Date of birth: October 25, 1956
Rank: army general in reserve (promoted to the rank of army general on October 28, 2009)
Education: completed studies at the Military Secondary School in Nove Mesto nad Vahom, west Slovakia (1975) and Military Academy in Brno (1981), did postgraduate studies at Czech Technical University in Prague and the Brno Military Academy.
Career: anti-aircraft defence, from 1986 at its command; 1994-2003 general staff´s head of signal command of the air force and anti-aircraft defence (1996-1997) and head of the command and direction section (2001-2003); head of President Vaclav Klaus's Military Office (2003-2007); chief of staff (March 2007-June 2012), first deputy defence minister (September 18, 2012-December 13, 2012; reinstated to the latter post on December 21, 2012.
Family: married with two sons
- During the five years when he was chief of staff, he had to tackle many problems such as the constantly falling military budget and the CASA transport planes suffering from many defects. However, he said he had passed the military to his successor Petr Pavel "in a good condition."
- Recently, the public attention focused on Picek's behaviour in the case of the purchase of CASA planes for the Czech military. Former defence minister Vlasta Parkanova (TOP 09) has been prosecuted over the purchase. According to media information, in his capacity as chief of staff, Picek was against the deal, but eventually yielded to the pressure from the Defence Ministry, particularly its former deputy Martin Bartak.
- As the first deputy defence minister, Picek headed the team that negotiated about further lease of Gripen fighters for the Czech military. He also helped draft some new legislation.
- Picek was dismissed from the post of first deputy defence minister by new Defence Minister Karolina Peake (LIDEM) on December 13. Peake took the post only one day before. The sudden change prompted criticism by President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Necas (Civic Democratic Party, ODS). Klaus told the server Novinky.cz that Necas had said Picek was to ensure continuity at the ministry after the resignation of Alexandr Vondra (ODS). Eight days later, Necas fired Peake, which caused a serious rift in the government coalition. Necas, entrusted with temporarily heading the Defence Ministry, reinstated Picek.
- In the past days, Necas called Picek a very good expert. Some opposition and coalition deputies, too, highlighted Picek's expertise and integrity.
- In February Necas spoke about Picek as acting minister.
- Necas allegedly previously proposed Picek for defence minister, but Foreign Minister and TOP 09 chairman Karel Schwarzenberg allegedly disagreed with him. Schwarzenberg indirectly confirmed for daily Pravo that he did not want Picek at the ministry. "I was not happy about that we would be like Guatemala where the defence minister is a general," he said.
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