English Pages, 28. 10. 2008
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you in the Prague Castle at this already traditional, early morning meeting of the President of the Czech Republic with the heads of diplomatic missions on the occasion of the Czech National Day. As I am sure you know this year we celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of our republic and – at the same time – of our modern statehood. We are glad to have you here with us.
This day offers us a very good opportunity to look back and to remind ourselves how it all happened, what preceded and what followed. I will talk about it much longer this evening. Here I would like to stress at least one point. Our republic was set up as a result of systematic and persistent efforts of our own political representatives, but we also know that it was made possible thanks to the help coming from the outside world, from many of your countries. Before I go on any further, I would like to express my thanks for that.
My thanks should be extended to you for the current era as well. The Czech Republic appreciates and values very highly the friendly relations it enjoys today with so many countries of the world. We try to develop and expand them further in all possible fields and dimensions. We want to be a trustworthy ally and a useful partner for all of you.
In the past 90 years our country experienced both good and bad times. There is, of course, nothing unique about this, nothing that would distinguish us from the rest of the world. Currently, we experience good times. The last turning point and the last new beginning came in November 1989, at the moment of the fall of communism. Since then, we have undergone a fundamental transformation of our political system, we have successfully completed a difficult transition from centrally planned economy to market economy, we have substantially changed the whole legal system of the country, we started to pay more attention to the environment, and we did many other things. Our international relations have radically changed as well. I would like to assure you that we want to be active all over the world, in all continents, not just within a selected, narrow group of countries.
Four years ago, we entered the European Union in which we – as a full and responsible member – try to contribute not only to solving particular items of the current EU agenda, but also to influencing the further course of the whole concept of the European integration project. Strengthening of freedom and removing bureaucratic barriers is more important for us than creation of the supranational EU structures, which – quite inevitably – exist and function without a real democratic legitimacy.
Our presidency of the EU in the first half of 2009 will add a new aspect to our EU membership. The slogan we selected, “Europe without barriers”, indicates what our priorities are. It is simple, it may sound rather non-dramatic, but I would like to stress that our slogan is neither “an ever-closer Europe”, nor “the sooner the Lisbon Treaty, the better”, nor “the future is in a more centralistic Europe.” I believe this slogan of ours can turn into an important message if we succeed in pushing it forward.
We see each other quite often. I am glad to be in regular contact with most of you and I am also glad that many ambassadors do a very good job here. It is not only a courtesy on my part to say so. I mean it. I mean it because we are really interested in deepening relations with your countries and would like to work together with you to achieve this goal.
I would like to thank all of you for coming to the Prague Castle now and would also like to repeat the invitation for you to take part in the festive gathering tonight.
Václav Klaus, The Rothmayer Hall, Prague Castle, 28. October 2008
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