Pavel Fischer and Vaclav Havel, inspiration in politics


For Pavel Fischer, Vaclav Havel was first of all a “Idea” : that of“A freedom that dared to say its name, to face the system”, carried by a playwright and dissident whose texts, printed abroad, circulated only under the cloak. Then he became a “Voice”, when after his second stay in prison, the signatory of Charter 77, a vibrant manifesto in favor of human rights, resumed speaking on Radio Free Europe.

But it was not until the very end of 1989, amid the effervescence of the fall of the Berlin Wall and thanks to television, that Vaclav Havel appeared to the Czechoslovaks under “His physical existence”. That of a man “Neither very large nor very impressive”, remembers Pavel Fischer, almost “Shy”, able to gather around him the most diverse personalities, and especially gifted, when animated, with one “Great authority”. “Like theater people, he had the strength to speak. He knew how to calm conflicts. This is how he emerged as a key spokesperson for the “velvet revolution”, when crowds began chanting his name. “

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At that time, Pavel Fischer was 24 years old. He has just completed his studies in French civilization and Czech literature and is starting to teach. A convinced Catholic, passionate about the social doctrine of the Church, he reflects on the best way to “Engage in public space”. During the dark years, it was supported by visits from the Taizé brothers and prayer vigils organized by the Kaplan family, friends of the community and fervent defenders of religious freedom and conscience. And it was since the Taizé meeting in Wroclaw (Poland), in which he participated with thousands of young Europeans, that he learned, on December 29, 1989, of the election of Vaclav Havel as “Interim president” from Czechoslovakia …

An ever closer collaboration

“The interim lasted thirteen years”, used to joke the former tenant of Prague Castle, seat of the Czechoslovak then Czech presidency, until 2003. After a few detours, Pavel Fischer agrees to join him there, starting an ever closer collaboration: d ‘ initially responsible for communication, he quickly became deputy spokesperson and even head of political affairs, a sort of secretary general of the presidency. A position of trust if there is one.

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In these founding years for the very young Czech Republic, now separated from Slovakia, the young civil servant observed his “boss” anchoring his country ever more firmly in the West. The Czech Republic applied for entry into the European Union in January 1996 and became a member of NATO in 1999. He entered politics almost in spite of himself and “Still grateful not to have the training for this”, Vaclav Havel amazes his young collaborator with his constantly arousing curiosity, his ability to “Pick up items from a file and bring up a question you hadn’t thought of”.

“Vaclav Havel was someone who did not impose himself physically but intellectually, reflects Pavel Fischer. When we had heated discussions between us, he observed us, amused, as if we were inspiring him to the dialogues of his next piece. “ His obsession with not being locked into a suit that is too tight often gives his team a hard time: during each official trip, he must be found “The bistro or the inn” where he can soak up the local atmosphere and taste some specialties.

Depth and simplicity

Deeply independent, refusing all political and religious labels, Vaclav Havel wants to understand all the points of view involved, even the most opposed, not hesitating – on the eve of a session of the World Bank which promises to be stormy – to reunite “Bankers and anti-globalization activists” for an improbable evening of celebration at the castle … “How many times has he also impressed me with the depth and simplicity of language with which he dealt with spiritual matters?, recalls Pavel Fischer. In Hiroshima, where he visited in 1995, when Olga, his first wife, with cancer, was about to die, I was overwhelmed by his words about death, hope in the hereafter. “

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Eight years of daily and intense collaboration allow him to also discover its weaknesses. “Came to power without the support of any party or movement”, Vaclav Havel is forced to make alliances, “Sometimes difficult to maintain over time”. His remarriage to a young actress, shortly after the death of his first wife, is criticized, as are his efforts to recover his family’s assets looted by the Communist regime. “I don’t want to beatify him, the vagaries of his personal life are well known”, smooth Pavel Fischer. “He himself has always refused to have a statue erected. Every time we tried to build something symbolic, he systematically messed it up: I think it was basically unbearable for him. “

In 2003, when at the end of his second term, the playwright president gave way to his former head of government Vaclav Klaus, a fierce opponent of the world according to Havel, another adventure began. “The joy of having achieved something for the country, without a false note”, mingles with “Relief, to a feeling almost of deliverance”. “After so many years of sharing our views on the affairs of the country and the world, I felt that I had to find myself, that I feed on other influences”, recognizes Pavel Fischer. “And it took me a long time. “

The years of emancipation

What words to choose to describe this new link? After the years of“Osmosis”, those of “Emancipation”. The “Inventory right”, on the other hand, very little for him. “Critical and well-documented work would be necessary today to bring out the coherence in the work of Vaclav Havel”, he believes. But he leaves that to others. His project is more ambitious: “Remain faithful, and become autonomous again”.

While his former boss rediscovers the joys of writing, Pavel Fischer takes over the management of Paris, with his wife and their four children, the eldest of whom with multiple disabilities requires special care. He is ambassador there, a position which allows him to observe his country with hindsight and to feed his taste for music, literature, and to reflect on his own. “Political and social project”.

→ READ. Pavel Fischer, at the school of Vaclav Havel.

The old question of his vocation as a Christian in society, at the service of his country, is still there. Even more so when, a few years later, he decided to resign from the public service to support the end of his eldest son’s life. After overcoming this “Copernican upheaval” family life, the former counselor then clearly feels the desire to “To launch into politics” in turn. And to stand as a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic in the 2018 elections.

Explaining what separates his project from that of his former mentor is difficult for him. One thing is certain: it does not claim to be the“Heir”. “Vaclav Havel lived in a pivotal period: there is no point in reinventing what he created”, he emphasizes. “It is not a miraculous medal either. Rather a backdrop that helps and inspires me. “ On the other hand, he enjoys scrutinizing the way in which some claim it, not without ” false note “. He especially remembers his teasing towards him: “Ah, you will see, when Mr. Fischer is president …”


Pavel Fischer

1965. Born in Prague.

1983. Admitted in French Civilization and Czech Literature at Charles University, Prague.

1990. Studied the social doctrine of the Church in Geneva (Switzerland).

1991. Becomes private secretary to the auxiliary bishop of Prague, then joins the communication institute founded by Cardinal Vlk.

1995. Joined Vaclav Havel’s cabinet, first as communications officer, then as deputy spokesperson and finally as head of political affairs between 1999 and 2003.

2003. Ambassador to France.

2010. Political Director of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2013. Resigns from the public service.

2018. Runs in the presidential elections (he obtains 10.23% of the vote) then senatorial. Elected senator from Prague, he chairs the committee on foreign affairs, defense and security.


Vaclav Havel

1936. Born in Prague.

1948. When the Communists came to power, his family – accused of having collaborated with the Nazis – was dispossessed of their property.

1951. Considered as a “class enemy”, he cannot enter university to study cinema.

1963. His first play, La Fête en plein air, is performed. But very quickly his works were censored.

1is January 1977. Co-signatory of the Charter 77 manifesto, asking the government to respect its democratic commitments.

Between 1977 and 1989. Spends three times in prison.

1989. Thanks to the “velvet revolution”, is elected interim president of Czechoslovakia.

1993. Elected President of the Czech Republic, re-elected in 1998.

2003. Leave power and start writing again.

2011. Dies in his country house in Hradecek.


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