Who is Václav Klaus?

Václav Klaus, the father of two sons, was born in Prague on June 19, 1941. His wife, Lívia, a respected economist, is a Slovak, born in Bratislava. Some see this as a further guarantee of Klaus's positive attitude to Slovakia.

In 1963 Klaus graduated from the University of Economics in Prague, where he studied foreign trade. In 1966 he completed a postgraduate course in Italy, and in 1969 an internship in the US.

Klaus then worked as a researcher at the Economic Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. He was fired from that job for his anti-communist opinions and subsequently worked in the Czechoslovak State Bank.

Klaus never joined the Communist Party, but he wasn't actively involved in dissident activities either. In 1987 the economist started working at the Institute of Economic Forecasts, which gave him a solid basis for his later plans for economic transformation.

Klaus was one of the leading figures of the November 1989 revolution, which marked the end of communism in Czechoslovakia. In December 1989 he became finance minister, from which position he prepared the privatisation of state property and the transformation of the state-run Czechoslovak economy.

In October 1990 Klaus became head of the political party Citizens' Forum, which in April 1991 turned into the Civic Democratic Party (ODS). Klaus was its leader until 2002.

Klaus became the Czech prime minister after parliamentary elections in June 1992. At the same time, Vladimír Mečiar was elected prime minister of Slovakia. Negotiations about the future of the common state followed, and were concluded promptly when the two leaders agreed to divide the state. The mutual respect between Klaus and Mečiar is still strong today.

Klaus was reelected Czech PM in July of 1996, but left office in 1997 after a rebellion within his own party. After parliamentary elections in June 1998, Klaus's ODS agreed to support a minority government formed by Social Democrats, and in reward Klaus became Speaker of the House of Representatives.

- Compiled by Lukáš Fila

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