Czech Republic Petr Pavel wins presidential election FRANCE May 24

Czech Republic: Petr Pavel wins presidential election FRANCE May 24

Published on: 01/28/2023 – 17:20 Modified on: 01/28/2023 – 19:23

The former head of the NATO military committee, Petr Pavel, 61, won the Czech presidential election on Saturday against ex-prime minister Andrej Babis. The participation rate was just over 70%.

General Petr Pavel, former head of NATO’s military committee and a supporter of military aid to Ukraine, was elected president of the Czech Republic on Saturday, beating out former prime minister Andrei Babis to succeed Milos Zeman, who has ambiguous ties with him had Moscow.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy immediately congratulated this career soldier on Twitter. “I appreciate your support for Ukraine and our fight against Russian aggression,” he wrote, adding that he wanted to work together “for the benefit of the Ukrainian and Czech people and in the interests of a united Europe.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has essentially addressed a first invitation to him. “Our countries are bound by deeply European values ​​and support Ukraine. You are welcome in Paris!” he wrote on Twitter.

Petr Pavel, a 61-year-old paratrooper and retired general, won the second ballot with 58.32% of the vote against 41.67% for Andrei Babis after the ballots were fully counted. His rival congratulated him on his victory.

For his part, Petr Pavel believed that “values ​​such as truth, dignity, respect and humility won in this election”, after a bitter and controversial election campaign, including in Ukraine.

Andrei Babis, a billionaire, has tried to woo voters concerned about the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by suggesting his opponent could drag the country into that war.

Incumbent President Milos Zeman is a controversial politician who maintained close ties with Moscow before tipping over when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“The Path of Change”

“This has to change, and you helped me to take the first step towards that change,” emphasized Petr Pavel, referring to “the political style that has prevailed here lately”.

Turnout in the EU and NATO member country of 10.5 million was 70.25% after a controversial campaign, including in Ukraine.

Although his role in the Czech Republic is essentially ceremonial, the head of state appoints the government, elects the governor of the central bank and the constitutional judges. He also ensures the supreme command of the armed forces.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen praised Petr Pavel’s “firm commitment” to “European values”. “Your experience in security, defense and external relations will be invaluable in maintaining and strengthening European unity at the service of Ukraine,” she added.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier emphasized that “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine shows more than ever how important cohesion within the European Union and NATO is”.

Congratulatory messages were also quickly received from senior Slovak and Baltic officials.

NATO military leaders

Petr Pavel will be the fourth president of the Czech Republic since it became an independent state following a peaceful split from Slovakia in 1993, four years after Czechoslovakia gave up totalitarian communist rule and fell out of Moscow’s sphere of influence.

His predecessors are Vaclav Havel, an anti-communist dissident who ruled the country from 1993 to 2003, the economist Vaclav Klaus (2003 to 2013) and Milos Zeman, whose last term expires in March.

Petr Pavel is a hero of the war in former Yugoslavia, during which he notably contributed to the liberation of French soldiers. He then became Chief of the Czech General Staff and from 2015 to 2018 served as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, the highest military post in the Atlantic Alliance.

The former elite paratrooper with a trimmed white beard and white hair is a fervent supporter of his country’s membership of the European Union and NATO. He vowed to be an independent president, unaffected by party politics, to continue supporting Ukraine and to back Kiev’s bid to join the EU.

“Of course, Ukraine must first meet all the conditions to become a member, such as making progress in the fight against corruption. But I think she has the right to have the same chances that we have had in the past,” he said.

Petr Pavel also supported same-sex marriages and the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

With AFP