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Does the First Lady have to speak Czech?

Czech politicians have tackled a lot of issues, but never the following one: Does the Czech president's wife have to speak Czech?

Czech politicians have tackled a lot of issues, but never the following one: Does the Czech president's wife have to speak Czech? Civic Democrat vice-chairman Petr Nečas asked this fundamental question in an interview for Mladá fronta Dnes, and he answered himself right away: She does. Nečas even thinks presidential candidate Jan Švejnar „is pulling our legs“ by ignoring this important rule.

Naturally, the unexpectedly nervous Nečas is not an impartial debater on the limits of the top Czech job. He simply wants to utilise the American origin of Švejnar's wife in the struggle for Václav Klaus's re-election. But the whole affair highlights a more general problem: the direction in which the campaign will be led. The key question is not how fast Mrs Katherine Terrell will learn Czech. Švejnar's US citizenship is a far greater weak point.

For Jan Švejnar, like for any emigrant, gaining US citizenship must have been a big achievement which, however, makes the situation difficult for him now. It is not really a problem (rather the opposite), but it turns Švejnar into a very easy target. We may expect Klaus's advocates to come up with the argument that the president must be loyal to a single country, not two, and essentially they will be right. This may show itself for example in the issue of the US radar base in the Brdy area. Primarily, the radar should protect the USA, but it is making a target of the Czech…

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