Former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg dies at 85

Former foreign minister, MP, senator and honorary chairman of TOP 09 party Karel Schwarzenberg has died at the age of 85 after a long illness. The one-time presidential candidate, noted for his pro-European views, had been hospitalised in Vienna for the past few days.

Mr Schwarzenberg, who had both Czech and Swiss citizenships, was born in Prague in 1937 into a noble family, which was forced to flee the country after the communist coup in 1948, settling in Vienna.

In the 1980s, Mr Schwarzenberg served as president of International Helsinki Federation for Human right, negotiating the question of human rights in former USSR, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and in Czechoslovakia.  He also co-founded the Czechoslovak documentary centre supporting the Czechoslovak exile and dissent, which was seated in his family mansion in Bavaria.

After his return to Czechoslovakia in 1989 Mr. Schwarzenberg served as the chancellor to president Václav Havel until his abdication in 1992. He went on to be elected as Senator from 2004 to 2010 and to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic from 2007 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2013.

In 2009, Karel Schwarzenberg, together with Miroslav Kalousek, founded the TOP 09 party, and in 2010 he was elected an MP. In 2013 and qualified for the second round of the presidential elections, finishing as runner-up against Miloš Zeman.

Author: Ruth Fraňková