Thursday, 24 April 2014

Anti-communist fighter, post-1989 deputy PM Lánský dies

27 November 2013

Prague, Nov 26 (CTK) - Egon Lansky, Czech journalist, former diplomat and Social Democrat (CSSD) senator, who was deputy prime minister in 1998-1999, died on Monday aged 79, Prague's Central Military Hospital's (UVN) deputy director Ivan Jerabek told CTK Tuesday.

Lansky underwent a long treatment in the UVN.

In the past, Lansky was an active anti-communist fighter. In the period preceding the late 1989 fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, people knew him mainly from the Radio Free Europe (RFE) broadcasts.

CSSD chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said the Social Democrats feel deeply moved by Lansky's death.

"Egon Lansky was an internationally respected journalist, a distinguished personality of the post-August-1968 exile, a significant public official and a leading personality in Milos Zeman's government," Sobotka said in a press release.

He said Lansky helped create the foundations of the European social democratic policy and contributed to the Czech Republic's good name abroad.

"Egon Lansky was an example of a man who persistently tackled his very uneasy life lot. He was imprisoned in the [Nazi] concentration camp in Terezin. In 1968 he was forced to emigrate to Sweden. Not even then did he stop fighting against the communist regime. He assisted in the free broadcasts of BBC and Radio Free Europe," Sobotka wrote.

Senate chairman Milan Stech (CSSD) described Lansky as a wise and competent man who "contributed to the renewal of democracy in our country."

Lansky was born on July 23, 1934 in Trencin, west Slovakia. He was persecuted by both the Nazi and the Communist regimes. After the August 21, 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia he left for Sweden where he worked in the Nordic countries' Committee of Solidarity with Israel.

Lansky returned to Czechoslovakia in 1991, after 22 years in exile, at the invitation of the then president and former leading dissident Vaclav Havel.

After the first free elections, held in mid-1990, Lansky became a spokesman for the Czechoslovak Foreign Ministry headed by Jiri Dienstbier Sr.

From April 1992, Lansky represented Czechoslovakia in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.

He left civil service after the January 1, 1993 split of the Czechoslovak Federation.

Lansky was a member of Milos Zeman's Czech CSSD minority government from July 1998. Zeman dubbed him "Mr Europe" because as a deputy prime minister he was in charge of coordinating the country's policy towards Europe.

However, Lansky's steps often drove him into power disputes with the foreign minister (Jan Kavan). In November 1999, Lansky resigned, for health reasons, from the post of deputy prime minister for foreign policy and security.

According to media speculations, Zeman's dissatisfaction with Lansky's performance and his failure to appropriately explain financial transactions in his Austrian account were the real causes behind Lansky's resignation.

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