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Notes for the Opening Ceremony of the 20th Vienna Congress

English Pages, 29. 1. 2023

We are attending the almost incredible, already 20th opening ceremony of the Vienna Congress com.Sult. At the beginning I was a little uncertain. I was afraid that we are misusing the well-known, more than two hundred years old name of the Wiener Kongress, but I do believe now that we can afford it. Twenty congresses make history.

Today’s meeting is an appropriate opportunity to express our gratitude to the organizers, to the sponsors and, of course, to the spiritus agens (the spiritual father) of all that, to David Ungar-Klein. It is his unending drive (and enthusiasm) that makes the congress possible. He should be – due to it – exhausted, thin and slim, but surprisingly he is not. He should (probably) organize at least two such congresses a year.

I dare also express our gratitude to all of us who have been repeatedly coming here, who wouldn’t allow themselves not to come because David wouldn’t excuse us.

We also deserve praise for obeying all his commands without much resistance. We, who spent most of our lives in a command economy of a Soviet type, are used to commands. I am surprised that the West Europeans are so obedient. The world of today’s liberal democracy is probably closer to the world of people’s democracy of the Soviet era than we assume.

I shouldn’t keep to myself that I exchanged several emails with David discussing the main topics of this year’s congress. To summarize their content, he wants to “shape the future” of mankind, I just want to prepare ourselves for the future and eventually make a small contribution to it. He looks at the world from his commanding heights. We, who are not there, see it more modestly.

There are plenty of topics to discuss here. Covid is probably over (not all those who made a career out of it are happy about it), but mass migration and cultural wars associated with it are still with us. A new danger – inflation – has arrived and with the growing indebtedness of Western countries, with the growing belief in the beauty of the “Anpruchsgesellschaft” (inaccurately called “entitlement society” in English) and with irresponsible politicians all around us, it is here to stay. We will no doubt discuss inflation in the next year as well. I don’t forget the energy crisis, the upcoming recession and, of course, the Ukraine war.

I originally planned to devote half an hour to any one of these topics on today's occasion, but I realized we would miss the dinner. So let me stop here and conclude by stressing that I look forward to meeting all of you again and that I look forward to discussing all these issues tomorrow.

Václav Klaus, Wiener Kongress com.Sult, Vienna, Hotel Imperial, Vienna, January 29, 2023.


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