Many tributes have been paid Jan Stráský, the last prime minister of Czechoslovakia, who has died at the age of 78. Stráský was a founding member of the Civic Democrats, held ministerial posts and was a highly figure in 1990s domestic politics.
He was a founding member of the Civic Democrats when the party’s members broke away from Civic Forum.
Stráský served as the last ever prime minister of Czechoslovakia from July 1992 to the end of that year.
He also assumed some presidential powers in the period between Václav Havel’s resignation that same month and the formation of the Czech Republic in January 1993.
Prior to his death, he remembered his beginnings in governance.
“I had a great interest in politics. I felt my whole life that it was necessary to take political action. And at that time one sensed one had an opportunity that couldn’t be ignored. In my view, the whole of our group behind post-revolutionary developments didn’t face as many of the temptations and so on that we see in politics today.”
Jan Stráský told Czech Radio that service in high politics had meant a great deal to him.
“Of course it’s a huge experience. Not everybody can be president or prime minister. So I’m not going to say it didn’t give me anything. The steps one could take as a senior politician are something I remember fondly. But naturally it was a very dramatic time – today we can’t even imagine – with the characteristics of a revolutionary period. And I’m glad I was able to participate.”
Jan Stráský became the Czech Republic’s first minister of transport before later serving as health minister.
Among the many to pay tribute to Stráský since his death on Wednesday has been Petr Pithart, another major figure in post-1989 Czech politics.
“I really respected him. It’s incredible but us old government members always used to meet. The last time was last year, I think. He was there on a wheelchair. His son brought him the last time. That’s how strong our relationships were. It was wonderful speaking with him.”
Another who expressed appreciation for Stráský was Václav Klaus, whom he worked alongside in the Civic Democrats and served under in cabinet.
Mr. Klaus on Thursday described him as a good friend, saying that if he had to set off for the North Pole alone, Jan Stráský was the person who he would most like to have by his side.