President-elect Petr Pavel visited Jáchymov as part of his visit to the Karlovy Vary Region, February 16, 2023.
Karlovy Vary – The newly elected President Petr Pavel ended his visit to the Karlovy Vary region today. During two days, he visited eight cities, met with mayors, representatives of the region, debated with citizens and students, visited a parenting center or one of the companies in the Cheb industrial park. Although apart from the debate, he did not plan any events for the public, his supporters and opponents were waiting for him at all places. The main goal of the visit was to learn about the main problems of one of the regions, which is among the structurally disadvantaged and in many statistics ranks last among the regions.
Photo gallery: President-elect Petr Pavel
< p>Pavel devoted the main part of his visits to conversations with mayors, who, according to him, have an overview of the real problems of the region and its needs. With some exceptions, he met with the mayors of today's opposition movement ANO, who are the leaders of Aš, Cheb, Sokolov, Karlovy Vary and Ostrov. ANO candidate Andrej Babiš also received a higher number of votes than Pavel in the Karlovy Vary region, one of the three in the presidential election.
In the Karlovy Vary region, the future president sees a problem in the lack of sufficient quality of life – young and qualified people leave to live elsewhere or work in Germany because of this. At the same time, according to Pavel, the region is attractive in many respects and offers many opportunities for development. During his visit, Pavel said, among other things, that it is in the interest of society as a whole to temporarily support some regions more. “Sometimes it causes aversion. If a region is favored, others perceive it as being at their expense. I think it is a matter for the government, but also for the president, that if we allow the scissors to continue to open, we will create a problem of internal stability and cohesion, which will be much more fundamental than if we favor certain regions now,” said Pavel.
The unfinished D6 highway and the connection to the A93 highway in Germany were also a recurring topic of conversation. Pavel promised that he would discuss this topic both with the ministers of the Czech government and with the German president. According to him, it is precisely for such meetings that visits to regions where he can gather information are important.
The mayors, but also the citizens, also pointed out to Pavel that there is insufficient health care coverage in the region, there is a lack of general practitioners and dentists, the region is the only one without an oncology center and patients therefore have to travel to neighboring regions. According to Pavel, support for doctors who decide to work in regional regions, as well as cross-border cooperation, could help in this area. He would also like to discuss this with representatives of neighboring states.
Social problems that the region has to deal with were also a frequent topic. In part, they are based on the structure of the population and are also related to a lower proportion of people with higher education and, conversely, a higher rate of people without or only with basic education. According to Pavel, successful programs from elsewhere could help reduce social tension. “It doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel when something has proven itself somewhere,” he commented.
At the BWI plant in Cheb, which has Chinese owners, he also explained that there is no need to shun trade with China if it brings, for example, jobs, capital or new technologies. However, one must be wary of companies that have direct ties to Chinese security services or may be a risk in the technological field. For example, he named Huawei.
During the conversation with the students of the island's grammar school, he also commented on questions about foreign relations, including whether Russia is a threat to NATO countries as well. “Maybe two years ago I would have said probably not, but after they launched the offensive in Ukraine a year ago, I'm not so sure about that. The Russian leadership showed a huge level of self-deception. They believed that the Russian army was the best and strongest in the world and that Ukraine is not a nation that can stand up for its interests. They believed that the West is not able to come together, that it will not stand together and create a counterweight to Russia,” said Pavel.
Every time Pavel appeared in public, his supporters were waiting for him and Pavel patiently and willingly signed books for them and took pictures with them. But his opponents also appeared. Even at the opening of the hockey match in Karlovy Vary's KV Arena, both applause and whistles could be heard. But there was no serious incident. In Cheb, one of his accompanying cars was also hit by an egg, but Pavel did not drive in it. Pavel has repeatedly said that he will try to be president for everyone, including those citizens who did not vote for him. The trips to the regions should help this. The visit to the Karlovy Vary Region was the first of such trips, followed by the Ústí Region next week and the Moravian-Silesian Region after the inauguration in March.