New Czech government expected to take tough stand on China, Russia

The mix of parties working to form the next Czech government ranged from conservative to liberal, but all share a commitment to the democratic principles endorsed by founder President Václav Havel. And that, a former Havel aide says, could be bad news for China and Russia.

Havel, the eponymous playwright whose writings and dissident activities helped to weaken communism in Europe, said Jiri Pehe, who advised the former Czech president in the late 1990s, changed his country’s position after last month’s parliamentary election. From “will be quite pleased”. Havel died in 2011.

The election ousted populist billionaire Lady Babis as prime minister and forced her coalition partners, the Social Democrats, and the Communist Party out of parliament altogether. Babis formally submitted his resignation to President Milos Zeman on Thursday, clearing the way for Petr Fiala, the head of the Civic Democratic Party and a key figure who won the five-party coalition, to form a new government.

Pehe says he expects the coming coalition, despite their philosophical differences, to adopt a foreign policy that aligns with their former boss’s strongly pro-human rights, pro-democracy ideals.

“At least for the next four years,” Beijing and Moscow will not have as easy times as in recent years, he told VOA in an interview.

Czech Senate Speaker Milo Vistrasil presents the Silver Commemorative Medal of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic to Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on October 27, 2021 in Prague.

A foreshadowing of what might happen next was provided in a high-profile visit to Taiwan last year, led by Senate President Milos Vistrasil, a longtime member of Fiala’s centre-right Civic Democratic Party. Which is known by the check abbreviation of ODS.

“Before my visit, I knew that my decision to move to Taiwan was not supported by the highest constitutional representatives of the Czech Republic,” Vystrcil told VOA in an interview. Among the critics of the visit was Zaman, whose warm relations with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have been praised by the Chinese embassy in Prague.

But, as Vystrcil said through a translator, “Ultimately, as a politician, you should do what you think is best for your country. It is also about what the countries around us do.” What is good for me. I have come to the conclusion that it is in the interest of both the Czech Republic and Taiwan to visit Taiwan.”

Prague Mayor Zdenek Hirabi speaks during a press conference hosted by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on September 4, 2020.

Prague Mayor Zdenek Hirabi speaks during a press conference hosted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on September 4, 2020.

Vystrcil was joined in the visit by Czech parliamentarians and politicians, including Prague Mayor Zdenek Harib and members of the left-leaning Pirate Party, which was also part of the upcoming coalition. He and Vistrasil were famously photographed together while enjoying a beer at a Czech-style pub in Taipei, reflecting the left-right alliance emerging from last month’s elections.

Beijing has reason to worry about Jan Lipavski, another member of the Pirates Party, who is seen as a candidate to head the Czech foreign ministry. In an essay published as Coronavirus in March 2020, Lipowski warned of a “hype panda” and predicted that China would seek to deny any responsibility for the spread of COVID-19 around the world.

He also denounced “Chinese and Russian clientism” as an attack on Czech democracy.

If the new Czech government turns its back on China and Russia, it is likely to find support for its positions even among members of the defeated coalition.

Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Tomas Petricek speaks during a news conference after talks in Budapest, Hungary on July 14, 2020.

Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Tomas Petricek speaks during a news conference after talks in Budapest, Hungary on July 14, 2020.

Among those sharing a skeptical view of the two authoritarian powers are former Czech foreign minister Tomas Petricek and the failed candidate in this year’s contest for leadership of the Social Democrats.

Russian companies known to oppose Zeman’s plan to bid for a major nuclear power project, Petricek also sees Beijing on an irreconcilable path with his country’s democratic ideals.

“You can say I am against Beijing,” he said in an extensive interview with VOA from Prague.

Petricek pointed out that democracy is an intrinsic part of the Social Democratic Party, and he sees no reason why the party would want to sit on the fence when it comes to which camp the country should align itself with. The fact that the party was seen as ambiguous on this important issue led to its defeat in nationwide legislative elections, he said, a view shared by Pehe, a former colleague of Havel.

Petricek said he noted the nationalist tone of the Chinese government’s recent rhetoric; He believes that – with its aggression abroad and repression at home – the principles of social democratic parties and the perceived ideals of communist parties contradict.

Taiwan’s strong democracy, on the other hand, “denies” Beijing’s claim that the Chinese people and society can only be governed by a one-party rule “somewhere between totalitarianism and authoritarianism”, Petricek said.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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