English Pages, 10. 12. 2020
Dear President Ivanov, dear participants of this year’s School for Young Leaders,
I am honoured by being asked to address you at the opening day of your gathering. I remember very positively my visit to Ohrid seven years ago. It was in the middle of August, in perfect sunny weather. It is different now, we do not have summer, and we are not together in Ohrid overlooking the beautiful Ohrid Lake.
The reason we are not in Ohrid, we are not together, and we are not looking at each other, is only partly due to the strength of the covid epidemic, or at least of its medical aspect. I am convinced it is much more the consequence of the overreaction of governments all over the world to it and of the misuse of the covid epidemic by media spreading fear throughout the whole world. This leads to the apotheosis of social distancing as a result of which we cannot meet each other anymore. I consider it a dangerous step towards the acceleration of fragmentation and atomization of human society, towards the victory of expertocracy in our countries, and towards the visible and undeniable loss of our freedoms.
The young leaders of your generation do not remember communism and the absence of freedom in that era, the old leaders of older generations and especially of my generation do remember it and consider it our permanent duty to keep warning against it. There is a powerful coalition of both interests and ideas in the current world with a very strong motivation to abuse the epidemic for the realization of their plans to create a Brave New World so eloquently described in Aldous Huxley’s book with the same title (and in many other famous dystopias).
Future leaders should be prepared for such a world. Seven years ago I said that “we live in a less simple, less black and white, and less easy to understand world” compared to the era when I was your age. I know that fighting old battles is meaningless, because we are confronted with different problems and challenges now. Let me mention at least shortly some of them:
- Your country has to become stronger to be able to consolidate its place in the highly unstable and dangerous world of today which has been rapidly losing its previous stability and its relatively clear and comprehensible arrangements among superpowers;
- Your country has to find its modus vivendi in Europe and especially in (or at least with) the EU which is not an easy task. People in my country are – already after sixteen years of EU membership – deeply divided over the positives and negatives of the European Union integration model. It looks better from the outside than from the inside. Seven years ago, I mentioned here that “we were deeply hurt when we finally became free and started to be patronized by West Europeans”. I know people in your country have similar feelings;
- Your country has to be strong to be able to establish friendly and cooperative relations with your neighbours in the region. I am well aware of the Balkan difficulties and complications connected with historic injustices and grievances and with of religious and ethnic differences, etc. The recent decision of your country to surrender to the Greek pressures to change the name of your country is rational but I realize that it must have been painful and distressful for you. You have got the trump-card in your hands, however, and you have to take full advantage of it.
I wish you, your country and your generation success in all of that. Once again thank you for the invitation to speak here.
Václav Klaus, an online speech to the participants of School for Young Leaders, The North Macedonia, December 5 2020
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