Prague, Czech Republic – Retired Czech army general Petr Pavel said he could possibly enter the race for the Czech presidency.
During an interview with Czech media Echo24.cz and other local outlets, Petr Pavel, 58, said he would consider running for president “a civic duty” if another candidate’s bid threatened to push the Czech Republic closer to Russia and China and undermine the NATO country’s pro-Western foreign and defense policy orientation.
Petr Pavel also used the opportunity to criticize current President Milos Zeman, highlighting his health problems and arguing that he debases the presidential office.
As Radio Prague points out, Petr Pavel’s membership to the Communist Party before 1989, which he nevertheless said he wasn’t ashamed of, is seen as potentially damaging for him in the polls among a large part of the electorate.
The retired general served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018, the first person from the former Eastern bloc to hold that position, after being Chief of the Czech Army’s General Staff for four years.
Petr Pavel, who since retiring has been giving regular lectures across the country, is not the first non-politician to hint at a potential bid to replace Milos Zeman in 2023. The outgoing head of state is not eligible to run for a third consecutive term.
Earlier this year, former ice-hockey star Dominik Hasek also said he might consider running for president.
“Now I have my job, which I really love and want to do to the fullest. But who knows what will happen in two, three years?”, ‘The Dominator’ told Czech journalists back in July. “I have no doubt that the office of the President is very responsible, so if I were to take it from this side, I would have to be excellent”.