Prague, March 13 (CTK) – Jan Zavesicky, 34, new general director of the Czech Centres, the Foreign Ministry’s subsidised organisations, has sacked a number of long-term employees and filled the posts with “his people,” which has provoked a tense atmosphere in the institutions, Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Monday.
This is why Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) invited Zavesicky, his fellow party member, to consultations on Monday, LN adds.
Last July, Zavesicky all of a sudden replaced experienced diplomat and translator Zdenek Lycka, 58, at the helm of the Czech Centres, which are to promote the Czech Republic abroad in the area of culture, education, trade and tourism.
After eight months in the post, Zavesicky, who has posted a quite pompous slogan “Success Is My Only Choice” on his web profile, claims he is convinced that success is coming.
However, internal reports from the centres show a slightly different picture speaking about chaos rather than success, LN writes.
According to LN sources, Zaoralek, who has so far protected Zavesicky, is concerned about the dismissal of Jean-Gaspard Palenicek, head of the Czech Centre in Paris, who defended the post in an open competition last year. This step prompted a protest letter of 226 French intellectuals and academics addressed to the foreign minister.
Zavesicky, however, insists on his reasons for Palenicek’s dismissal, that is a low efficiency of the centre in Paris whose performance with four employees was similar to the centres with two employees only.
“In general, the posts of (Czech centres) directors cannot be the domain of the people who, though they love culture, do not have sufficient managerial skills,” LN cites Zavesicky as saying.
He has replaced not only Palenicek, but also the heads of the Czech centres in Vienna and Brussels. His personnel changes have also afflicted the Czech Centres headquarters in Prague that coordinates the representation of Czech culture and science abroad.
Zavesicky has replaced more than one-third of employees at the headquarters and changed the whole leadership. He prefers his acquaintances from the past, often from the North Moravian Region and the CSSD, with whom he cooperated before he came to Prague, such as the new finance director and the marketing and strategies director whose post he newly established, LN says.
Zavesicky justifies the dismissals with the same reasons as in the Palenicek case – poor results and a different idea of efficiency, but his subordinates are often of another view. “Even the employees who criticised the incompetent management and its mistakes were dismissed,” one of the former employees told LN.
The paper admits that as the general director, Zavesicky has the right to demand high performance and professional skills. However, his own CV proves that he has been a quite “fluctuant” manager whose work has left no distinctive traces.
He started as the head of the Jeseniky – Tourism Association in Sumperk, north Moravia, which was good at gaining regional and EU subsidies. It is no coincidence that he managed this regional NGO as a CSSD member. He also ran for the CSSD in regional and local elections twice unsuccessfully, LN writes.
In 2014, Zavesicky became director of the Water Management Facilities in Sumperk, allegedly thanks to influential local businessman Jaroslav Kralik interceding for him. But the company’s board did not confirm Zavesicky and he ended after six months.
Then he was catapulted directly to the post of director of transport minister Antonin Prachar’s (ANO) staff, but after three months, new minister Tan Tok (ANO) dismissed him.
After an almost one-year break, Zavesicky became the chief methodologist of the Czech Centres from which he moved to the institution’s helm. The Foreign Ministry charged him with “an efficient presentation” not only of Czech culture, but also science, IT, film and sport, LN writes.
The Czech centres, established in 1993, operate on three continents, for instance, in Berlin, Moscow, Paris, Vienna, New York and Tokyo. In 2015, their total budget was 253 million crowns.