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Czech minister says pro-Western line maintenance is his main task

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Prague, Dec 18 (CTK) – Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO), who will turn 60 on Monday, considers the maintenance of Prague’s post-1989 pro-Western line his crucial duty towards his homeland, and he believes that the issue will play a role in the autumn 2017 general election, he has told CTK.
Stropnicky said his performance as a minister has been influenced by the worsened security situation in the world.
“This is quite a fundamental circumstance. I do not know when the situation might have been more difficult for any of my predecessors,” he said.
He mentioned the opposition Communists’ (KSCM) promotion of a referendum on Prague’s withdrawal from NATO.
“Sometimes it seems to me that one of my most important duties towards this country…is to maintain its pro-Western post-1989 line. Some may suspect me of exaggerating, but I think I do not exaggerate,” Stropnicky said.
He said it is important that representatives of countries with differing views on the ongoing crises meet each other and discuss the troubles,
“As soon as they stop talking to each other, it [a conflict outburst] follows quickly. It may be very quick, since historical sensitivities continue surviving between countries,” Stropnicky said.
He criticised those who misuse people’s passions and revive them as part of politics.
“It is very easy to foment fear, hatred or antagonism…On the contrary, it is a task for a whole life to calm down such phenomena and return quick and superficial emotions back to rationality,” Stropnicky said.
Stropnicky, an actor by original profession, worked as a diplomat in 1990-2002.
He was culture minister in an interim cabinet in 1998.
In 2013, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies for the ANO movement, which nominated him for defence minister.
Stropnicky told CTK he considers it “extremely healthy” to change one’s profession several times in life.
He said he cannot imagine himself working as a state official or an actor, let alone politician, for all his life.
For the moment, he does not know whether he will seek reappointment as defence minister after the 2017 election, or whether he will run for president.
ANO chairman and Finance Minister Andrej Babis recently said Stropnicky would be the best candidate for president in the early 2018 direct election.
Stropnicky’s possible presidential candidacy has also been discussed by observers and commentators.
“Another challenge is my becoming a freelance actor,” Stropnicky told CTK. His said his wife, Veronika Zilkova, is an actress and their daughter and a son play theatre as well, while another daughter is a dancer. That is why they could prepare a joint theatre production of their own, he said.

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