Pundit on Politico’s 28 list: Pavel among Europe’s “movers and shakers” due to experience

Petr Pavel

Czech President Petr Pavel is among the 28 most influential people who will co-determine the character of Europe in 2024, according to the Brussels-based website Politico, which describes him as a hawk on Russia and China, a supporter of Ukraine and promoter of NATO enlargement. Others in the top 28 are French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. I asked political scientist Vladimíra Dvořáková how she perceives the Czech president’s listing.

Source: Politico
Vladimíra Dvořáková | Photo: Jana Přinosilová,  Czech Radio

“Well it is quite interesting because when we look at those 28 people it is a mixed company – you have people that are very, very different in their political attitudes and activities. I think it is mainly because when there were discussions about the war in Ukraine and other security related questions President Pavel had a clear position on them. He is not influential because he is the Czech president. The Czech Republic is no heavyweight and our president does not have executive powers, but his expertise and his personal experience gained in his former position as head of NATO’s Military Committee probably give added authority to his ideas because they are based on knowledge, skills and experience and understanding of the given problems in a broader sense.”

As Politico notes the Czech president does not have executive powers and plays largely a symbolic role, but he has a significant sway on foreign policy. Has he made foreign policy his priority?

Pater Pavel as a “hawk” | Source: Politico

“Yes, as Politico says, the president does not have strong powers, on the other hand he represents the Czech Republic when in contact with other countries and the problem with Czech foreign policy in previous years was the discrepancy in views between the government and the president. And I think that first, now our foreign policy is coordinated, and secondly, we have a clear stand by a president who is perceived more or less as an expert in the field. And he is not pursuing his own ambitions, he really has a foreign policy based on certain knowledge and it is not in conflict with the position of the Czech cabinet, albeit there can be some small differences in the details.”

He has been in office since March, which is not that long. Has he improved the reputation and standing of the Czech Republic on the international arena?

Petr Pavel in the courtyard of Prague Castle  (left) | Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,  Czech Radio

“Yes, he has improved it, because he is clear and predictable. It is important in foreign policy to have someone who is predictable and whose position will not change in the space of a short time. And although he is characterized as a “hawk” I would not say he is a hawk in the proper sense of the word.  He thinks about the problem carefully and he does not have a “simple” position on how to deal with aggression and the aggressor. He also thinks about the impact of individual steps. He clearly does not want to extend conflicts. As a soldier, he is against conflict, but when the conflict is there, he understands the need to be supportive.”