English Pages, 28. 10. 2011
It is a great pleasure for me, as well as for my wife, to welcome all of you here at the Prague Castle, in this hall, in front of the statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, of a man who is closely linked with this celebration, with the 93rd anniversary of the birth of our independence in the year 1918. Masaryk launched a struggle which seemed impossible to win, a struggle for national and democratic ideals, and succeeded in it. He stood behind the creation of the Czechoslovak state. He was able to gain recognition for it abroad and became its first president. We, the Czechs, remember him today and together with him we remember all those who fought for our independent statehood.
Ten years after the establishment of Czechoslovakia, Masaryk made an important statement by expressing what many Czechs felt at that time for the first time after several centuries: “the State is no longer something apart from ourselves and opposed to us”. This feeling of ours was lost in the Second World War and in the four decades of the oppressive communist regime, but now we are proud to be able to say once again that our state is not apart from ourselves and opposed to us, that we are again responsible for our own affairs. One of our endeavours is to have the best possible relations with the countries you are representing. It is a pleasure to celebrate this day with all of you.
We have – as any other country – our own problems but what bothers us most these days is the development in our neighbourhood, on the European continent. The Europeans and especially the European politicians should take the current European crisis seriously. It should be properly interpreted and understood. We have to accept that we are facing a crisis of the whole political project of ‘an ever closer Europe’ which asks for reconsideration and radical repair. The eurozone debt crisis is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg.
The European politicians must have the courage to change the social and economic model which has dominated Europe in the last decades and to change the form and methods of European integration. To say this openly is not an expression of scepticism but of a responsible approach and of the ability to look into the future. To continue the same course, to further centralize decision-making at the EU level, to do more of the same, is not a solution. Trying to help the indebted countries by increasing their indebtedness is not a solution either.
Many things must change, but it does not mean that new mistakes should be made. It is mistaken to fight the nuclear energy just now in reaction to the consequences of the huge natural catastrophe which happened in Japan this spring. Nuclear safety and security is an absolute necessity and the Czech Republic pays the highest possible attention to it, but the catastrophe in Japan did not question the fact that nuclear power remains a stable and irreplaceable source of energy. That is why the Czech government supports its further development.
I always repeat that even though the relations with our neighbours and with other EU member states are a priority for the Czech Republic, our foreign policy is not focused on Europe only. I hope that the Czech engagement in NATO, our friendly relations and economic ties with the United States and with many countries of Asia, Africa and America demonstrate it quite clearly. As do my visits abroad.
Once again, I would like to thank you all for being here today and to invite you sincerely to join us tonight for the state decorations ceremony and reception at the Prague Castle.
Václav Klaus, The Rothmayer Hall, Prague Castle, 28 October 2011
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