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HN: Ex-president Klaus’s lecture costs one million crowns

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Prague, April 7 (CTK) – A lecture given by former Czech president Vaclav Klaus, 74, costs about one million crowns, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes on Thursday, referring to a price list of the Speaker Associates British agency.

It offers a lecture by Klaus for an equivalent of 670,000 to 1.6 million Czech crowns.

Consequently, Klaus is almost in the most expensive category of speakers. Only former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is offered for a higher price, while Klaus is in the same price category as former Polish president and anti-communist movement leader Lech Walesa and former German vice-president Joschka Fischer, HN writes.

Nevertheless, it adds, U.S. ex-presidents receive much higher sums of up to five million crowns for their lectures.

The U.S. APB Speakers agency also promotes Klaus as a lecturer on its website. In addition, Klaus’s s aide Petr Macinka has told HN that the ex-president cooperates with the London Speakers Bureau.

Klaus, an economist by profession and a notorious Eurosceptic, was Czech president for two terms in 2003-2013 and prime minister in 1993-1997. He founded the right-wing Civic Democratic Party (ODS) in 1991 and was its leader until 2002 when he was running for president. As head of state, he was its honorary chairman, but gave up the post after disputes with the party’s leadership in 2008.

HN writes that paid lectures are a common source of income of former top politicians. However, it is unusual that Klaus’s name figured on the commercial agencies’ lists of speakers even at the time when he occupied supreme political posts, and he was thus on the verge of a conflict of interest.

On top of that, the Czech president, unlike his foreign counterparts, does not have to submit a property statement and this is why it was impossible to find out how much he was paid by private businesses, HN notes.

Klaus is not much more open nowadays either, though he left high politics a few years ago and his participation in various conferences is not controversial.

“Those are private activities of ex-president Vaclav Klaus,” Macinka told HN, being asked much Klaus earns by his lectures.

However, interest in Klaus is almost as high as during his presidency, said another of his close collaborators, Jiri Weigl, former head of Klaus’s presidential office. Now he works in the Vaclav Klaus Institute think tank founded after Klaus ended in the presidential post.

HN writes that Klaus’s schedule is really busy. He attends numerous events from giant commercial conferences, such as one held in Morocco three weeks ago where he gave a speech on current problems of Africa, to lectures at universities and small private debates.

Moreover, Klaus often takes part in events connected with Russian representatives, HN says.

One of them is the “Dialogue of Civilisations” international conference annually held in Rhodes under the patronage of its founder Vladimir Yakunin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Klaus attended this forum last year, while his successor in the presidential seat, Milos Zeman, went there a year before.

The organisers of such conferences do not want to release whether and how much Klaus was paid for his participation, HN adds.

It says foreign agencies mainly offer Klaus’s lectures on economic issues, however, he has often talked on migration as well of late and at the same time promoted his book “The Migration Period.”

Klaus also touched upon the refugee crisis in his latest “political” performance – at a meeting in support of the German anti-migration party AfD in March, HN writes.

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