English Pages, 21. 12. 2015
Many thanks for inviting me to participate in this important, long time overdue gathering. Thank you for organizing it.
The ten years’ anniversary of President Lech Kaczyński’s entry in the presidential office of the country he loved so much and represented so well is an excellent and much needed opportunity to commemorate his views, his political stances, his achievements, his life, and – regretfully – his sudden, tragic, and very premature death, which was and still is for many of us hard to understand and accept. The same has to be said about his main life-long supporter and collaborator, his wife Maria. For me, this conference is an opportunity to remember and also openly acknowledge our very special personal relationship.
The Poles, his compatriots, know him much better than me – a foreigner, even though from a neighbouring country. I was privileged to have a chance to meet him many times but I shall speak about him very modestly. I am aware of the fact that my position is in this respect only a view “from the outside”.
Let me stress that I have always considered President Lech Kaczyński my best friend among the leading European and world politicians. I expressed this view in public many times in the past. He was always very friendly to me and – I believe – to many of us. He was very “Polish” (and in this respect – rightly and with justification – very self-confident). Even though there has always been a difference between the Czech and the Polish views on some issues – given the geography and due to the different size and historical experience of both countries – we understood each other quite well.
We in the Czech Republic appreciated very much that he was a real friend of the Czech Republic. I dare say that during his time in office the Czech-Polish relations were historically the best ever. It was not always so. There used to be many misunderstandings and even a distrust or suspicion between the Czechs and the Poles (more on the Polish side probably) but Lech Kaczyński was not a victim of this fallacy. He knew that to keep elementary sovereignty and independence, Poland and the Czech Republic (and – if possible – the other two Visegrad countries as well) have to act in harmony or even jointly. He was afraid both of Brussels, and of Moscow. History aside, speaking about the post-communist era, we slightly differed. I have to admit that I am more afraid of Brussels these days. He was – quite understandably – more afraid of Moscow.
This takes me to Europe. Our views about the long-term detrimental effects of the unnatural, constructivist, in many respects unnecessary, and upon very reluctant people in Europe imposed unification of the European continent, organized by cosmopolitan European elites who keep underestimating the irreplaceable role of the nation-states in Europe were very similar, even though – probably – for slightly different reasons. I was always more anti-European, meaning anti-EU. He was always more pro-Polish. To be pro is usually better than to be against. This attitude is more productive. This position gave President Kaczyński the necessary strength and guaranteed him a strong political support on the side of his compatriots. My criticism of the EU was always more abstract, more theoretical, more conceptual, less easy to understand for common people.
To be fair to this audience, I should openly admit that we did not have identical views as concerned Ukraine (and perhaps Georgia as well). It was based on a different starting point of ours. I could never look aside and overlook or play down the dangerous and evidently non-democratic sub-currents of views and deeds of some political groupings (and their leaders) in these two countries. And I was afraid of the possible and very probable consequences.
The current situation in Ukraine is for me a sad proof of my long-time held fears. The mere fact that these politicians were anti-Russian does not justify their other views and positions – at least not for me. On the other hand, I have always understood and accepted Polish positions, based on the very specific Polish historic experience both with the czarist Russia and the communist Soviet Union.
If he’d been with us today, Poland, Central Europe and the EU would have been different. I suppose he would be very resolute about the currently most important issue – the huge migration wave, which poses a real threat to Europe, its culture, traditions, civilizational patterns as well as religion. Unlike the dominant European liberal political elites, he would know that this crisis is not a Middle East or Northern Africa’s issue but a European one. The latent migration reservoir in failed or war-driven states is not the substance of the problem. The problem is the passively tolerated, very often initiated and sometimes even co-organized march of hundreds of thousands or millions of migrants into Europe. This is exactly what the European multiculturalist, quasi-progressivistic, totally irresponsible political elites have been trying to do. Quite successfully.
These migrants have been long time invited implicitly by the generous and paternalistic European welfare-state policies, by the elimination of internal borders in Europe, by the failure to defend external Schengen borders, by the acceptance of deadly and destructive ideology of multiculturalism, by the ill-oriented and misinterpreted would-be compassion. That in itself would be sufficient to create a problem but that is not all. In addition to it, the migrants were invited explicitly by some European politicians. I am sure President Lech Kaczyński would be profoundly and loudly against it.
I miss Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and his close collaborators very much. The Polish people – and we all – should be grateful that he has strong, competent and loyal followers in his brother Jaroslaw, in President Duda, in the, now again winning political party, and in particular in so many Polish citizens who did esteem and do esteem President Lech Kaczyński so much.
Thank you for your attention.
Václav Klaus, The speech at the conference “Sovereignty, Solidarity, Security. Lech Kaczyński and Central and Eastern Europe”, Presidential Palace, Warsaw, 21st December 2015.
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