Vlastimil Picek to be new defense minister

Army general Vlastimil Picek is to be the country’s new defense minister, according to government sources cited by the CTK news agency. The former army chief of staff, who currently serves as deputy defense minister, is a widely respected expert in the field though his appointment to the post is vehemently opposed by the smallest party in government LIDEM which wanted a civilian to lead the Czech Defense Ministry. Prime Minister Petr Nečas who has in vain sought a suitable civilian candidate for the post since it was vacated last Christmas, has strongly advocated the general’s appointment and has reportedly won over the TOP 09 party for the idea. TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg said earlier this week a decision needed to be made fast since the present situation was unsustainable. The coalition had come under fire both from the military and from opposition benches for procrastinating in filling a crucial government post.