Government nominates Petr Gandalovič as ambassador to US

Petr Gandalovič, photo: CTK

The three-party coalition government has at long last chosen an ambassador to the United States: MP Petr Gandalovič, an old-time Civic Democrat who among other his many posts has served as a mayor, general consul in New York and Minister of Agriculture. With very little standing between Mr Gandalovič and the ambassadorship (he must be approved by the Czech president and by the United States), we asked political scientist and commentator Jiří Pehe for his take on the appointment.

Petr Gandalovič,  photo: CTK
“I think that Mr Gandalovič is not a bad choice. He certainly is a former diplomat; he was the general consul in New York so he’s got some experience working in diplomatic services, and I think that when he was in New York he was regarded quite highly by both the Americans and the Czechs. The fact that he later entered politics and became the deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic party is a different matter, but I think that given his experience and character he is well suited for a diplomatic job.”

Do you think the US will be happy with the choice? There have been rumours of some concern on their part over his business connections.

“Well I think the Americans have to see what his business connections are and certainly they may have some questions. On the other hand, I think there should be some reciprocity, and just like the Czech side doesn’t question the former business activities of the current American ambassador in Prague, I think there has to be some moderation on the side of the Americans when it comes to the former business activities of Mr Gandalovič.”

Is there anything standing in the way of Mr Gandalovič now becoming the ambassador to the US?

Czech Embassy in Washington
“I’m not sure how far Mr Gandalovič has gotten with his security check; that is definitely something that could be a problem for him simply because the national security office which gives security clearances will look at his various business activities in the past and his various connections in great detail. Those may be very problematic from that point of view – not from the point of view of America, but from the point of view of which degree of access that office can give Mr Gandalovič to state secrets and so on in light of his previous business activities.