Kavan vs. Stransky: Part III

Editor’s note: In its July 25-August 2 issue, The Prague Post published an opinion piece critical of Foreign Minister Jan Kavan by Dr. Martin Jan Stransky, a prominent physician and the publisher The New Presence and Pritomnost magazines.

Kavan answered those charges in the Sept. 12 issue. Here, Dr. Stransky elaborates on his views. He makes reference to the Czech news agency CTK, the dailies Lidove noviny (LN) and Mlada fronta Dnes (MFD), and Radio Free Europe (RFE). The views expressed are those of the author alone. On Sept. 12, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan reacted to my article on these pages criticizing him primarily for his role in Czech diplomacy. I thank the editors for being allowed to respond. First, Kavan is correct that Miroslav Slouf, Prime Minister Milos Zeman’s adviser and a former high official in the Communist Party who championed numerous discreditable affairs and organized the comeback of former communist connections and money into Kavan’s party, was not dismissed, only discredited, losing his race for a Senate seat.Second, in his article, Kavan asked that I back up my statements with facts.

Here they are, with cited references. Kavan’s interpretation of his involvement in two key international affairs can only be described as bordering on the delusional. One is the Balkan crisis, where Kavan states that the peace effort that he initiated independently with the Greek foreign minister (in Beijing of all places) included almost all the points contained in the later 10-point cease-fire agreement.” Not only did the plan call for an end to airstrikes before asking that the Serbs withdraw from Kosovo – the exact opposite of the NATO position – but it also did not have NATO’s approval (CTK). This undermined NATO solidarity by creating the appearance of internal differences within the alliance (CTK). Regarding his role in initiating a resolution of the UN Human Rights Commission, part of which criticized the U.S. embargo of Cuba, Kavan claims that the Czech Republic eventually agreed to compromise wording that won the support” of other countries. In fact, the initial wording led to protests by other council members (CTK). Poland’s members withdrew from the draft process and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell complained to President Vaclav Havel. Havel himself, speaking about his country’s position on Cuba, said, we lie – you can’t believe us” (LN). RFE labeled the Czech Republic an untrustworthy partner. Is this what a minister of foreign affairs is supposed to achieve? Since his appointment, Kavan’s collaboration with the communist secret police has remained a subject of discussion.

Kavan is correct in noting that a Czech court found he was not a willing cooperator” with the secret police (Plzensky denik). But two questions remain. What happened to the missing 500 page secret police file on Kavan, and why did Kavan meet with the communist secret police 46 times in the first place (CTK)? These questions fostered at least one book (KATO- Kavan’s code name given him by the secret police) and cast so much suspicion on Kavan that his credibility will always be suspect.Notwithstanding, Kavan continues to be associated with other questionable figures (MFD). In June, Karel Srba, former general secretary of Kavan’s ministry whom Kavan stated raised the standard of workers to an unusually high level” (MFD) resigned after he rented a Moscow building to his associate for less than its market value, a transaction in which the law was broken (MFD). With Kavan’s signature on the rental agreement, members of Parliament called for his resignation (HN). Kavan now claims that he has considerable evidence that would cast doubt” on assertions considering renting of the building. Why hasn’t he provided it? In his article, Kavan attacked my qualifications as a physician as well as my interpretation of his emergency hospitalization in Washington, D.C., that aborted his meeting with Colin Powell.

Two days later, Kavan was on his way to the United Nations to push his candidacy to the General Council. I question neither Dr. [Richard] Katz’s judgement (Kavan’s physician with whom I spoke) or the diagnosis. What I do question is Kavan’s judgment in immediately flying off to New York after his discharge, despite his doctors suggesting a quiet routine”(MFD and Dr. Katz) and Kavan’s admitting he felt tired.” I also noted, as did every Czech daily, that Kavan didn’t have health insurance. Though Kavan himself told Pravo on May 26: I wasn’t insured,” he now claims that he did have health insurance, albeit via his credit card. I ask again – how absurd is it, that a minister’s travel is not covered by the state? And what if Kavan didn’t have a credit card?In his reply, Kavan failed to address the most important point raised: When the opportunity to strengthen cooperation with NATO and other Western allies was never better, relations between the United States and the Czech Republic reached their lowest ebb. Here, Kavan is to blame, since he placed ambition over responsibility. Mature democratic politicians view responsibility to those they serve as their goal. When questions are posed, they must be answered, without stooping to condescension as a defense, which Kavan did in his reply. To end on a positive note, following the tragic events in the United States, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador, Craig Stapleton, did single out the Czech Republic – including minister Kavan – for its quick response and promised support. Hopefully this will mark the beginning of a new chapter in U.S.-Czech relations. 


The Prague Post24.10.2001

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