English Pages, 28. 10. 2007
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure having you here to celebrate – together with us – the National Day of the Czech Republic, the day our independent and sovereign state was established 89 years ago.
In the history of a nation, eighty-nine years is not a very long time span. There are still people around who were born before that event but at the same time this period is long enough for many things to happen. After a rather democratic and economically promising interwar period, we had, first, a tragic German protectorate during the Second World War, three years of unconvincing searching for where to go after that, and, then, 40 years of communism. For the last 18 years we are enjoying living in a free and democratic society again.
You are here with us, and you see our country with your own eyes. I am afraid there is almost nothing I can add to that knowledge of yours in this short speech of mine.
As I said, we had lived through more than half of our independent statehood in a non-democratic political system. Although the proportion has been changing and it will soon be less than half, it was, is and will remain an unforgettable experience for us. It gave us special sensitivity to see, hear and feel all symptoms of lack of freedom and democracy both in our country and elsewhere.
This sensitivity explains some of our reactions to various events in the current world which some of you sometimes find surprising and too sharp or harsh. We feel very strongly about political oppression and about the lack of political democracy. We also feel rather strongly about the almost invisible moving away from democracy to post-democracy which is connected – for me inevitably – with the current radical transfer of decision-making to international or supranational bodies. We try to warn against its unintended (I hope only unintended) consequences because there is always a big difference – to quote the famous French economist and thinker Frédéric Bastiat – between what is seen and what is not seen and we feel obliged to turn attention to it.
We feel also very strongly about attempts to put something ahead of freedom – various social imperatives, the fight with international terrorism, and, recently, the masterminding of the global climate. The intentions of advocates of these causes can be – perhaps – noble and well-meant but the consequences can never be good. Communism was based, structurally, on the same way of thinking and we are obliged not to forget it.
Later this evening, in my formal speech to the 89th anniversary of the birth of our state, I will touch upon some foreign policy issues and for that reason I will not open them here now.
I would like to assure all of you that we are interested in extending, expanding and intensifying our relations with your countries. I believe you know it. We meet quite often, I gladly receive the leading representatives of your respective countries here at the Prague Castle and I quite extensively travel abroad. The same is true about other Czech leading politicians from all political groupings.
I would like to thank each one of you for your presence here and for the work you are doing for the good relationship of our countries.
Václav Klaus, The Rothmayer Hall, Prague Castle, October 28, 2007
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