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First Inaugural Address delivered by Václav Klaus

English Pages, 7. 3. 2003

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Guests from home and abroad, Mr. President Václav Havel - and I am saying Mr. President deliberately because I believe that people will always say that (as they should),

Let me say few words today on this ceremonial occasion. These words of mine shall be neither a correction nor an essential addendum to my words from previous speeches. All I want to do now is to review and summarize my standpoints. At the same time I want to promise that what I have said in my pre-election speeches is indeed valid today, and also that it will be valid tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

I want to start with saying Thank You to both Chambers of Parliament for the trust they have expressed in me. I do not say that out of mere courtesy. In the Parliament and with the Parliament I have lived during the last few years so closely and intimately that I know how to appreciate the meaning of the fact that I have received votes from across the political specter, which I hold in high regard. It is a good sign for the future.

I also want thank the citizens of the Czech Republic who - in such large numbers - expressed their support for me before and after the election. I am convinced that it was their view that the Deputies and Senators who voted for me listened to.

In the last few weeks three times I stood before you, and as a presidential candidate I have delivered three speeches. It is sometimes said that pre-election rhetoric is one thing and  post-election reality quite another. I want to assure you that something like that is far away from what I stand for and that today, publicly and loudly, I am signing up to each and every word that I have delivered before you. I would only like to return to some ideas which hint at an outline of what I - perhaps with certain hyperbole - would call a “presidential program.”

I want to be an active President, but I shall not be a President-activist. I want to contribute towards a greater trust in our political scene among our citizens, a trust in our democratic institutions and our political parties. Our citizens must be sure that their interests are represented by transparent politicians who are elected by them, and that decisions are not made in any secretive groupings which did not undergo a trial by the election fire. It is from my side an expression of deep faith in parliamentary system. 

As much as, and decidedly so indeed, I shall not stand aside our political life, I have no ambitions to be the mover of our political scene. I want to influence political processes only indirectly. I want to be a measured uniter at the top of the pyramid of our constitutional system, not its neuralgic point.

The role of a representative of the Czech Republic’s interests abroad is something that I see as a significant part of my work. I shall put a special emphasis on the strengthening of good relations with our immediate neighbors. Another priority is the process of integration of our country into the EU and a defense of our interests inside this association. Persistently, I shall base my positions on a President’s first and foremost loyalty, that to his country.

There are a number of specific tasks ahead of us which have precise timetable, but there is one goal that includes all temporal dimensions and at the same time transcends them. What I have in mind is a positive change of social climate in our country.

I want to contribute towards a state of affairs in which people’s faces would brighten up, where they would display an optimistic smile with which everything is easier.

That tends to be easy when things go well, when the state’s economy is in good order, when the public finances are healthy, when the living standard grows and when citizens feel safe and secure. All that we have to create together.

President must supply self-confidence, optimism and hope in a better future even when things do not go so well. It is easy to sigh and succumb to disenchantment, and to let the disenchantment get under one’s skin, but the repair then is long and painful.

I also spoke of concord. While keeping the respect to the legitimate democratic rivalry of political parties (and interests which they represent), I also want to seek, from the first hour on together with you, the highest common interest of the entire country and all its citizens, or that which despite our differences unites us and in certain sense transcends us. We dearly need accord about this common interest.

Let us continue all that is positive, which was done in our country. I myself have the task to continue all the good that my predecessor has done. 

Difficult tests await our motherland. If we face them with sufficient self-confidence, if we leave mutual quarrels in the dust, if we resolve to defend our innermost interests, but also if we act with proper humility, we shall succeed. 

I promise that during my entire mandate I shall exert all my efforts toward this success.  

Václav Klaus, 7.3.2003

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