Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1941 during WW II, Vaclav Klaus grew up during the Cold War. After earning a doctorate in economics, he pursued a career in academia and at the Czechoslovak State Bank. Immediately after the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Klaus entered politics. A founder of the Civic Democratic Party, he served from 1992 to 1997 as prime minister of the Czech Republic. In 2003 he was elected president, a position to which he was reelected in 2008.
In retelling his experience of living through the Velvet Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the lifting of the Iron Curtain, Vaclav Klaus offers his views on what students today need to understand about life under communism. He also defends his opposition to the idea of a European superstate -- "I do not consider the Lisbon Treaty to be a good thing for Europe, for the freedom of Europe, or for the Czech Republic" -- and compares the ideology of environmentalism and global warming alarmism with the ideology of communism.
Finally, he ponders the question of what lessons from history his grandchildren are learning.
Vaclav Klaus was born in the Vinohrady district of Prague on July 19, 1941. He spent his childhood and youth in the neighborhood of Tylovo namesti.
He studied at the Prague School of Economics (majoring in the Economics of Foreign Trade and graduating in 1963), and economics became his lifelong specialist field. He took advantage of the relative thaw in Czechoslovak public life at that time to study in Italy (1966) and the USA (1969). As a research worker at the Institute of Economics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, he completed a PhD in Economics in 1968.
In 1970, he was forced to abandon his research career for political reasons and left to work for many years at the Czechoslovak State Bank. He returned to an academic post at the Forecasting Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences in late 1987.
He entered politics immediately after 17th November 1989, but he did not lose his contacts with the world of economics. He continued his lectures and published occasionally and in 1991, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Economics at Charles University. In 1995, he was appointed Professor of Finance at the Prague School of Economics.
Vaclav Klaus started his political career in December 1989, when he became Federal Minister of Finance. In October 1991, he was also appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the Czecho-Slovak Federation. In late 1990, he became Chairman of what was then the strongest political entity in the country - Civic Forum. After its demise in April 1991, he co-founded the Civic Democratic Party, and was its Chairman from the outset until December 2002. He won the parliamentary elections with this party in 1992 and became the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. It was in this position that he took part in the peaceful division of Czechoslovakia and the foundation of an independent Czech Republic. In 1996, he successfully defended his position as Prime Minister in the elections to the Chamber of Deputies, but he resigned after the break-up of the government coalition in November 1997. After the early elections of 1998, he became the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies for a four-year term of office.
On February 28, 2003, Vaclav Klaus was elected President of the Czech Republic. Vaclav Klaus is married to economist Livia Klausova and has five grandchildren and two sons: Vaclav is the headmaster of a private grammar school in Prague and Jan works as a financial analyst.
Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, where he writes about business and politics, edits the Hoover Institution's quarterly journal, the Hoover Digest, and hosts Hoover's television program, "Uncommon Knowledge."
Robinson is also the author of three books: How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life; It's My Party: A Republican's Messy Love Affair with the GOP; and the best-selling business book Snapshots from Hell: The Making of an MBA.
President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus compares the ideologies of communism and global warming alarmism.
"They are structurally very similar," says Klaus. "They are against individual freedom. They are in favor of centralistic masterminding of our faiths. They are both very similar in telling us what to do, how to live, how to behave, what to eat..."