Czech Republic: ex-foreign minister Schwarzenberg dies
Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg died on the weekend aged 85. One of the Czech Republic’s best-known politicians, Karel, the 7th Prince of Schwarzenberg, lived in exile in Austria for decades before returning to Prague after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Commentators pay tribute to his life’s work.
He served with enthusiasm
Erik Tabery, editor-in-chief of Respekt, summarises:
“The list of his positions is impressive — director of the presidential office, senator, member of parliament, foreign minister — but all of this still cannot accurately describe what Karel Schwarzenberg represented for Czech society. He supported Czech dissidents before 1989, financed a number of civil society activities, but also took care of ‘small things’, such as buying suits for members of a Czech delegation that visited Queen Elizabeth in 1990. ... In photos of him standing alongside Václav Havel, he’s often laughing heartily. And it was precisely this energy that post-revolutionary Czechoslovakia needed. He came to serve his old country, and he did it with enthusiasm.”
Departure of an irreplaceable man
Alexandr Vondra, an MEP and long-standing friend of Schwarzenberg, describes him as Europe’s last cavalier:
“It’s often just a set phrase — but Karel Schwarzenberg really was a European. At the same time he remained a true Czech patriot. He loved his homeland and served the nation, as his aristocratic upbringing had taught him to do. After all, our assets are not ‘ours’, we only manage them and must pass them on to our successors in a better condition than we received them in. With Karl Schwarzenberg, the last cavalier has departed. An Englishman would say ‘gentleman’, but ‘cavalier’, that long-forgotten word, is more appropriate in my opinion. I don’t see anyone who can replace him.”