RNDr., CSc. Ivo Šanc

* 1955  

  • "I responded to an ad in the Council of Europe bulletin that I received in the town hall. On the last page, I read an ad that the Council of Europe is looking for people in the United Nations who have experience in municipal politics, are physically and mentally resilient and speak English. The UN put together a peacekeeping or civilian mission to Kosovo after the war in Yugoslavia. So, I thought it would be something for me to try. So, I signed up for the ad, resigned as mayor and after they elected me, I left for Kosovo. It was sometime in the autumn of 1999, in June 1999 the war ended there. The expulsion of Serbs has begun, Kosovo - I don't know if you know that, this is an ethnically complex area. The Serbs who ruled there lost the war, the Albanians committed further crimes of revenge against those Serbs, the whole country was in disruption, physically and economically destroyed, without any legal governing structures. The task of the UN was to build a public administration there, to provide basic public services, such as health care, education, waste, transport and the like. And build structures there from the local people and lead the country to free, democratic elections. I perceived it as a pretty interesting challenge. I joined Kosovo, where it went fast, and they said: 'You have been a mayor in the Czech Republic, so you will be mayor and we will move you to Gjilan, a city or region in the north-east of Kosovo, on the border with Serbia and Macedonia. The situation there was rather difficult nationally. I took the office, everything was broken, I found out that the region is ruled by a committee of former ÚČK fighters - the Liberation Guerrilla Army - who had everything under their thumb. I [had] somehow had to deal with them, shut them down. Then there was the army, it was the zone of the American army. Kosovo was divided into four zones, the American, where I was, a French one, a British one and one of the remaining armies. The international police started being built there, I had American police officers there. Gradually, we put together an international team. I originally went there for half a year, in the end it was three years, plus I stayed there for another year for the Council of Europe."

  • "Until then, I would not have thought that I would be socially involved, but it happened. I joined the ODS in 1993, and in 1994, without any extra effort on my part, it turned out so that I became the mayor of Kutná Hora." - "What made you candidate to the mayor post?" - "My very good friend, the one who went to say goodbye to the airport with me [before flying to Cuba], he was a classmate of my brother-in-law and his wife, so he became the mayor of Český Krumlov. It was Honza Vondrouš. In Český Krumlov he actually saved the city, Krumlov was falling apart in the late eighties, it was a totally devastated and destroyed city. He came up with the concept of development and privatization, and Český Krumlov was saved and turned into a historical pearl. We were in contact much, I travelled with him around the world, helped him interpret from English and Spanish, we participated together in certain projects, when he introduced me to it. He said, 'Come on board too.' And I've been in the ODS since 1993, and when the 1994 elections were coming up, it never occurred to me that I should run for mayor because there was another candidate, which was really much into it. However, shortly before submitting the final application for the election, he resigned because he had an apartment and a career in Prague. So, it more or less fell on my shoulders. I was less than forty years old at the time, so I was relatively young. I accepted it, because it was clear, the professional career was over for me and this seemed an interesting challenge and Kutná Hora as a historical town needed something similar to Český Krumlov. It was quite attractive for me and I agreed to be the number one candidate."

  • "Those [occupation] soldiers, most of them, didn't know where they were. They did not know if they were in the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and when they already knew that they were in Czechoslovakia, they were ideologically brainwashed to come to liberate Czechoslovakia from the counter-revolution. That they came to help our people, help us. My mother gave a ten-minute speech to the local radio station, where she explained to them that it was completely different, no one there wished them to stay, that we wanted to decide on our country and future for ourselves. I still remember her words. Back then, there were such giant speakers on the poles, called amplions. Such a funnel. Two such speakers were shot to pieces. Otherwise they did not shoot there, they had their strict bans, which did not allow them to use weapons; the rule was violated in many places, but not here in our village. We looked down at them from the window, from the balcony. We were a little scared, worried about mom, if they knew she was talking on the radio, but fortunately they didn't know... That was August 21st."

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    Kutná Hora, 20.04.2021

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    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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Od geologie k politice

Ivo Šanc, a mayor of Kutná Hora
Ivo Šanc, a mayor of Kutná Hora
photo: Ivo Šanc

Ivo Šanc was born on May 15, 1955 in Vrchlabí. After the war, his grandparents settled on the border, in one of the houses after the displaced Germans. The family lived in Chotěvice near Hostinné. As a thirteen-year-old, he experienced the arrival of Warsaw Pact troops in Hostinné. He graduated from the grammar school in Vrchlabí and the Faculty of Science, Charles University, majoring in geology. The day after November 17, 1989, he travelled to Cuba for work, watching the news from home from a distance. In 1994, he ran for the council in Kutná Hora and became mayor. In 1994, he left for Kosovo, where he worked for four years as mayor of the United Nations. He worked in war-torn Kosovo until 2003, when he worked for another year as an expert of the Council of Europe. After returning to the Czech Republic, in 2010 he was re-elected mayor of Kutná Hora as head of the Chance candidate for Kutná Hora. From 2012 to 2020, he was the representative of the Central Bohemian Region for the STAN movement. Ivo Šanc is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish and Russian). His lifelong passion is geology and mineralogy. He is married, has a daughter, a son and six grandchildren.