English Pages, 1. 12. 2008
Your Excellency, Mr. Lafond, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My wife and I – together with the citizens of the Czech Republic who highly appreciate traditional good relations between our two countries – are truly delighted to have the opportunity to welcome you in Prague on the occasion of your state visit to the Czech Republic. We would like, once again, to thank you for accepting our invitation to come here.
While the first contacts between our countries were often the accidents of history, over the course of time they expanded to full fledged cooperation and multifaceted relations in business, science, sports, culture and all fields of human endeavor.
Remembering the friendship and solidarity of Canadian people one cannot fail to mention the shelter Canada provided to thousands of Czech refugees during the time our country did not enjoy the freedom and democracy we have today.
I wish to mention such personalities as recently deceased Thomas Bata, man who is very positively remembered as patriot and respected entrepreneur in both our – and literally both his – countries.
Just like him, thousands of our citizens found their new home in Canada, escaping the Nazi and communist totalitarianism. I wish to mention the hundreds of our fellow citizens who left to Canada after the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in February 1948 as well as after the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Among them, I wish to mention Josef Škvorecký and his wife, who created a very important centre of free Czech culture around their Toronto-based publishing house. We are grateful to your country for this openness, hospitality and support.
We appreciate the cooperation of our armed forces, beginning with the World War One and continuing in World War II. Even today our men and women in uniforms jointly serve as allies in peace keeping missions in Balkans and in Afghanistan.
We consider Canada to be not only a friend, we see Canada in many ways to be a source of inspiration. For me, personally, I would like to mention here my longstanding contacts with the Fraser Institute in Vancouver whose activities in spreading the ideas of democracy and civic freedom are very inspirational also in my country.
Both our countries are not connected only through close political relations and security alliance. I have to mention a field which became a real link between us. It is ice-hockey which we imported from you and developed into the most popular sport in our country. Hundreds of Czech ice-hockey players are now our good sport ambassadors in Canada.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
Please join me in a toast to their Excellencies, the Governor General of Canada and Mr. Jean-Daniel Lafond. Please join me also in a toast to the friendship between the people of Canada and the Czech Republic.
Václav Klaus, Rudolph’s Gallery, Prague Castle, Prague, December 1, 2008
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