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Extremist to become adviser to Czech Education Minister

Prague, 16.3.2011 15:05, (ROMEA)

Ladislav Bátora, a controversial figure due to his activities in the extremist National Party (Národní strana - NS) and other matters, will become an adviser to Czech Education Minister Josef Dobeš (Public Affairs - VV) starting in April. The Czech daily Právo reported the news today, claiming it is from a reliable source.

The daily says Dobeš will assign Bátora to the economic area. The minister refused to comment on the appointment yesterday. "I will publicize my decision on 1 April and it will not be an April Fool's Joke," he told Právo.

Bátora was originally supposed to become Dobeš's first deputy minister and was recommended by people from Czech President Václav Klaus's circle. However, Czech PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats -ODS) labeled Bátora's appointment to the deputy minister post unacceptable.

Bátora is controversial not only because of his past connection to the NS, but because many of his opinions have been flagged as controversial. Bátora has sharply distanced himself from Europeanism, multiculturalism, feminism, anti-discrimination and ecumenicism. He is the chair of the conservative D.O.S.T. initiative, which, like Klaus, rejected the Lisbon Treaty and is against the European Union. The president has backed Bátora in the press and labeled the scandal over his employment by the Education Ministry "the dictatorship of political correctness".

Nečas, on the other hand, said that a person who had run as a candidate for the NS has no place in his administration. "This is not an evaluation of his quality or lack thereof, his education or lack thereof, his competence or lack thereof, his opinions or lack thereof. This is simply the statement of a fact that he consciously ran as a candidate for an extremist party which is unacceptable in the democratic spectrum. That is a serious political step and it is not possible for him to be a politically appointed deputy in a government which I head," he said previously.

In recent weeks, Minister Dobeš has faced several scandals which have prompted those behind the scenes to raise the possibility of his replacement. He has had to explain the exceptionally high salaries being paid to his managers, whether he contributed to his subordinate's seminar work, the reading of others' electronic correspondence at the ministry, and speculation about replacing his first deputy with a former candidate for an extremist party. The taking of professional photographs of the minister and his deputies was also not viewed favorably, as it cost CZK 70 000. Criticism has also been aimed at the minister's lax approach to pro-inclusive reforms designed to halt the segregation of both medically and socially disadvantaged children in education.

Gwendolyn Albert, Radka Steklá, ras, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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