Memory of Nation


Michael Kocáb (1954)

  Michael Kocáb (1954)
Havel's presidency was my making

Proposing Havel for the presidency

„Václav Havel let me hanging in a very elegant way. I was staring at him: ‘Help me out – I don’t want anything but for you to become president.’ But he gave the impression that he wasn’t interested, or that it was very inconvenient that this should be discussed at his presence. He sat for a while, then left and said: ‘Sort it out yourselves.’ Up until then he just uttered a few words, suggesting a no. So I ended up in a situation where I looked like a naïve guy who wanted Havel for the President but nobody else did, and not even Havel. Though obviously, this was not the real situation. I pushed through an indicative vote. During the first one, out of the thirty or forty people, only five were with me – Alexandr Vondra, Jiří Křižan, Jirka Černý, and maybe also Petr Pithart or Láďa Hanzela. Just a few people, we didn’t get our way. But then I went to Vašek and told him: ‘What have you done to me?’ He replied: ‘Well, excuse me, but I can’t be President, there’s no way. We have Alexandr Dubček here. Nobody would agree. And I stutter.’ It really seemed like a no. Then he added: ‘And Olga wouldn’t let me.’ I said: ‘Well, I doubt that. But if you’d like, I’m happy to discuss it with her.’ He said: ‘Just try it, she will chase you off.’ I went to see Olga and within five minutes we had an agreement. No doubt – she was an intelligent woman who told me: ‘I knew this would happen. I personally would also like Vašek to take it. That would mean that some of the changes were permanent.’ And this is exactly what had happened. In the end, this willfulness turned out alright.”

  • 28 July 1954 born in Prague
  • 1973 graduated from grammar school in Mladá Boleslav
  • 1977 founded the band Pražský výběr
  • 1979 graduated from the Prague Conservatory in composition and organ play
  • spring 1989 along with Michal Horáček established the Most initiative
  • November 1989 founding member of the Civic Forum
  • December 1989–1991 Member of Parliament
  • 1990 initiated the creation of a parliamentary commission for the expulsion of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia
  • 1993–2003 external advisor to President Václav Havel
  • 2003 comeback of Pražský výběr
  • 2009–2010 Minister for Human Rights and Minorities
  • 2017 awarded the Slovak Order of the White Double Cross
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