English Pages, 28. 10. 2009
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you at the Prague Castle, at this traditional meeting of the President of the Czech Republic with the heads of diplomatic missions on the occasion of the Czech National Day.
As I am sure you all know, we celebrate the National Day as the day when our state was founded as a democratic and sovereign republic. You know also that its 91 years long history was full of dramatic events. We were victims of the tragic German occupation during the Second World War and then, for four decades, we lived under a totalitarian, oppressive, irrational and inefficient communist regime.
My generation spent most of its life-time living in communism but twenty years ago we were fortunate to witness its collapse. The Polish Solidarity movement, the fall of the Berlin wall, the so called Velvet revolution here, in this country, the re-unification of Germany, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War were all unique but interrelated historical events which should not be forgotten.
Since November 1989, our country has undergone a fundamental transformation of its political, social and economic system. We introduced parliamentary democracy very rapidly. We successfully completed a difficult transition from centrally planned economy to market economy. We substantially changed the whole legal system of the country. We started to pay more attention to the environment, and we did many other positive things. Our foreign policy has radically changed as well. The Czech Republic reassumed its place among mature European democracies, found new partners abroad, became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and a member of the European Union.
The topic dominating our political debates now, both in the Czech Republic and in the European Union, is the Lisbon Treaty. The Czech National Day is not an occasion for explaining my views on this topic. These views of mine – largely supported by Czech people – are well-known to all of you and so are, hopefully, the domestic and foreign policy implications of this treaty. That is why I take it very seriously.
Twenty years after the restoration of our democracy and sovereignty, we are once again dealing with the question whether we should – this time voluntarily – give up the position of a sovereign state and hand over decision-making on our own matters to European institutions that are outside of the democratic control of our citizens. It is a decision we should make freely, by ourselves and for ourselves and I would like to assure you that we are paying full attention to it. We are aware of the political realities in today’s Europe. We know that we are not making our decision in a political vacuum.
My request on behalf of the Czech Republic to have exemption from the Charter of Fundamental Rights is nothing revolutionary. Similar exemption has already been granted to two other member states. It is nothing less and nothing more.
The reason I am asking for this guarantee now, for some of you too late, is that it was not clear until after the Irish referendum earlier this month, whether the Lisbon Treaty could gain unanimous approval of all the member states, which is required in order for the Treaty to be ratified and implemented.
The Czech Republic is, of course, not only in Europe. I am more than aware of that. I have been traveling extensively all over the world in the last years and will continue doing so, in order to strengthen bilateral relations of the Czech Republic with all of your countries. This year has been remarkable when it comes to the number of my trips abroad and as you know, I have received many important guests from your countries here at the Prague Castle. I look forward to continue working with all of you.
Once again, thank you for being with us today.
Václav Klaus, The Rothmayer Hall, Prague Castle,
28 October 2009
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