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Pres. candidate: Czechs must keep tied to democratic West

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Prague, Oct 14 (CTK) – The Czech Republic must remain tied to democratic Western European countries, presidential candidate Marek Hilser has told CTK, saying that this would be a priority for him as president, together with emphasising civic society as a means to bar political power monopolisation.

Furthermore, Hilser, 41, a physician, university teacher and activist, said he would like to open a debate on ways to improve the country’s healthcare and school sectors faced with a crisis.

He said he considers a government including the Communists (KSCM) unacceptable now that the political scene is growing radical and the KSCM cannot be trusted, because of its past.

A person who committed a crime or is suspected of it should not be prime minister, according to Hilser.

Subsidy fraud charges are faced by Andrej Babis, the billionaire leader of the government ANO movement that is expected to comfortably win next weekend’s general election.

“Suspicions undermine people’s trust in the political representation. After Andrej Babis solves his problem and it becomes clear that he committed no crime, he main turn up again and contest the prime minister’s seat again,” Hilser said.

The two-round direct presidential election is scheduled for mid-January.

Hilser was the first of the current contenders to announce his candidacy for president. He said on Saturday he had gathered 28,000 people’s signatures in support of himself as an independent candidate, and he believes that he will gain the total of 50,000 of them, which is required for his candidacy to be officially registered, by the November 1 deadline.

Hilser said if he failed in the first round of the presidential polls and if the incumbent president, Milos Zeman, advanced to the run-off vote, he would support Zeman’s democratic rival.

Commenting on Zeman’s previous vow that he would not take part in pre-election debates, Hilser said Zeman would probably be physically and mentally unable to cope with the demanding campaign, which is why he shuns it.

This, however, is irresponsible towards voters, to whom Zeman is accountable for his performance as president, Hilser said.

In his own campaign, he relies on minor donations from citizens.

“I think the president and a politician should be independent from big financial gifts provided by groups of interest,” he said, adding that he has received the highest sum, 50,000 crowns, from the Jablotron firm’s founder Dalibor Dedek.

At the same time, Dedek has supported another presidential candidate, former Science Academy head Jiri Drahos, with two million crowns.

Hilser said he fears “privatisation of political power” in the Czech Republic.

“That is why I want to be a president to emphasise the opposite, i.e. civic society and the self-confidence of citizens,” he said.

It is also important for the Czechs to remain tied to democratic countries of Western Europe and take part in European integration, he continued.

The European Union is tackling problems, which is normal. It is necessary to seek steps to unite the EU in a way suiting all. The EU’s disintegration would only benefit Russia, China and also the USA in a way, he said.

If elected, he would pay his first presidential visit to Slovakia, followed by Austria and other important EU countries, Germany and France, he said, adding that he would like to negotiate with Russia and China as well.

“Isolation is not beneficial, but these [Russia and China] are no priorities for me. I am not against doing business with them, but we must neither bow nor kowtow to them,” Hilser said.

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