“The terrible cynicism in our country, corruption, also scumbags. Sometimes I worry, when I look at the development in our country, that the 50 years have not only bent our spines, but that you have also gone a little crazy,” is how Karel Schwarzenberg assessed the post-revolutionary development in the Czech Republic in 2001 on Czech Television.
Former foreign minister, TOP 09 chairman and also presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg often spoke about the history of the coexistence of Czechs and Germans. His words on this subject regularly received a lot of attention.
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“Deportation is not a Sudeten problem, it is not a German or Austrian problem, it is a Czech problem. My nation’s problem. We have to come to terms with the fact that we have not always behaved like saints in our history,” he said, for example, in 2003 on a Czech Radio broadcast.
In 2007, when he was foreign minister in Mirko Topolánek’s government, he described the post-war removal of Germans from the Czech lands as expulsion.
“What happened in 1945 was naturally expulsion. It is nonsense to deny it. I’ve always been in favor of calling a spade a spade,” he said at the time.
At the same time, the possible construction of an American anti-missile radar in Brdy was also intensively discussed. Karel Schwarzenberg supported it as the head of Czech diplomacy at the time, and it was he who, as foreign minister, signed the contract with the then US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The construction eventually fell through, but Schwarzenberg did not change his opinion.
“This shows that sometimes you don’t want to be right. We already suspected, even if we didn’t know, how Putin’s Russia would develop, and that at that time Iran and Russia were getting closer and that the Iranians would also have missiles,” he told Blesk newspaper after 14 years.
Czech-German history as the topic of the election
In 2009, together with Miroslav Kalousko, he founded the new political party TOP 09, which he led as its chairman until 2015.
“We all have a responsibility for this country. You, all citizens… Politicians by profession should bear a special responsibility. This responsibility and the feeling that we should try to correct public affairs led us to our decision,” Schwarzenberg explained to journalists the reasons for founding the party.
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Schwarzenberg’s political rivals accused him of sometimes dozing off as foreign minister. Schwarzenberg answered them when, in the 2010 elections to the Chamber of Deputies, he chose the slogan as his slogan: “When they’re talking nonsense, I’m sleeping.”
He also ran for the post of head of state in the first ever direct presidential election in 2013, when he faced Miloš Zeman. The elections were accompanied by a heated atmosphere and Schwarzenberg’s words regarding Czech-German relations resonated again.
“I have always said and I insist that what we committed in 1945 would be condemned today as a gross violation of human rights. The then government, including President (Edvard) Beneš, would probably find themselves in The Hague,” Schwarzenberg said in the debate.
While his statement received a positive response in the German media, his opponent Miloš Zeman criticized him:
“Until this moment, or rather until yesterday (Thursday), I would absolutely respect that you will be the president of the Czech Republic. But the one who calls (…) one of the presidents of Czechoslovakia a war criminal is speaking as a Sudeten and not as a president,” Zeman told Schwarzenberg. He eventually won the election.
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Standing up for Feri
In recent years, Schwarzenberg has withdrawn into seclusion, troubled by health problems. But he commented, for example, on the case of exposal for TOP 09 Dominik Feri.
“I’ve never heard of such a thing, and what is inappropriate behavior please? And what is sexual harassment? It was always considered normal for a 25-year-old guy to try to get a girl into bed and vice versa. So please let’s not be hypocrites,” he told the iDNES news website.
This year, Schwarzenberg received the Order of the White Lion from President Petr Pavel for services to the state in the field of politics. Due to his health, his son Jan took over the award for him.
Karel Schwarzenberg died on Saturday, November 11. Echo24 was the first to report about it.
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