English Pages, 8. 11. 2007
Madam Minister, Dear guests
I would like to thank you for this special lunch and for the opportunity to meet with you. In the past almost five years of my presidential mandate I have visited your country six times. This fact, together with the frequent contacts between our governments, businesses, academic and research institutions, regions and citizens, demonstrates the importance the Czech Republic attaches to its good relations with the United Kingdom.
Eighteen years ago (and we will celebrate this anniversary a week from now), communism collapsed. Today, the Czech Republic is a stable, democratic, rapidly growing country, which firmly belongs to the family of mature European democracies. Our membership in the European Union is one of the confirmations of this.
Mentioning the EU, I would like to say that the European Union is, and should remain, a community of democratic countries. It should be a space for free movement of goods, services, labour and capital, of people, culture and ideas. It is legitimate to be critical of the ambitions which divert the EU from this conception, no matter how well-intentioned and well-meant they are. We cannot stay indifferent to the fact that decisions about our everyday life are moving into the hands of unelected European authorities, to the increasing democratic deficit in the EU, to the progressing bureaucratization and regulation of all spheres of our life.
Madam Minister, I am glad to say that the relations between our two countries are excellent and problem-free. It was not a coincidence that the United Kingdom was among the first EU countries to open its labour market for Czech citizens. It is another example that your country has been long devoted to the “Europe without barriers”, which is a slogan of the Czech EU Presidency in 2009.
Our countries are very close to each other in defence cooperation and our soldiers have joint missions in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in the Balkans. Both our countries attach great importance to the North-Atlantic Alliance and do not support attempts to build alternative security or defence structures which would weaken it or diminish its importance.
Trade and investments, as well as cultural exchanges and interpersonal contacts, between our two countries are increasing. Many Czechs study, work and enjoy daily life in your country and also many of your fellow citizens live and work in the Czech Republic. I know that some of them study there, and I am pleased your daughter is among them.
The United Kingdom is a very developed economy, which makes it a country with one of the highest living standards and quality of life in the world. It is also a country of immense natural beauty, a country of William Shakespeare, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin, as well as of Winston Churchill and the Beatles, a country of top-class universities, a country where the rules of soccer were codified, a country where the first game of tennis and the first game of golf were played.
I would like to say how happy we are to be here, at one of my last official visits before the presidential elections in my country next year.
Allow me, Madam Minister, to make a toast to the future of our relations, to friendship and happy life for the citizens of your country, and to the good health of yourself and your relatives.
Václav Klaus, Lancaster House, Londýn, 8. listopadu 2007
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