Top Czech diplomat Martin Povejšil dies at 62

Martin Povejšil

Many tributes have been paid to senior Czech diplomat Martin Povejšil, who has died at the age of 62. Mr. Povejšil held several key posts in over three decades at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and his death is being described as an enormous loss.

Martin Povejšil, who died on Monday at the age of 62, joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990. In over three decades there he held numerous important posts, including serving as Czechia’s ambassador to NATO, the European Union, Spain and Chile.

Though largely unknown to the general public, Mr. Povejšil was widely respected in foreign policy and security circles at home and abroad, and there has been a constant stream of tributes since the news of his passing.

In a statement, the minister of foreign affairs, Jan Lipavský, said Mr. Povejšil had been one of the best diplomats the country ever had and was somebody he had listened to and learned from every day.

The country’s diplomatic chief paid further tribute on Czech Television.

“I would like to say that Martin Povejšil was one of the first people to join what was still the federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs after the revolution. He really became the personification of modern Czech diplomacy, he became the personification of Trans-Atlantic relations, of this country’s security policy. Above all that, he was a great person. It was a great honour for me to be close to him and to have him in the leadership of the ministry, though he was battling a serious illness to the very end.”
Jan Lipavský

Politician Ivan Gabal wrote that the elite diplomat had managed to keep Czech foreign policy going in a Western direction even when he was outnumbered.

Other tributes have also highlighted the fact that he was so skilled and respected that he managed to maintain key principles, regardless of what president or prime minister was in power.

Minister Lipavský echoed that view.

“Martin Povejšil was such a wonderful, industrious person that he was able to greatly influence Czech foreign policy under every government. For instance, under Social Democratic Party governments, and so on. He had a constant influence on the shaping of Czech foreign policy.”

Martin Povejšil | Photo: Markéta Trnková,  Czech Foreign Ministry

President Petr Pavel said that he had known Mr. Povejšil for many years and described him as a great professional who would be missed.

Prime Minister Petr Fiala wrote that he was an exceptional and successful diplomat who had served the country devotedly.

Politician and formed ambassador to the US Alexandr Vondra said that he had been the country’s best post-1989 diplomat and was an irreplaceable loss.

Former UK ambassador to Czechia Nick Archer tweeted that there was nobody he had liked better in Prague, or respected more. Such sad news, he said.