English Pages, 15. 3. 2023
Many thanks for the invitation. Many thanks for organizing this traditional annual forum, even as the country is mourning the tragic losses it has suffered and continues to suffer in the consequence of this year’s huge earthquake. We feel your grief and know that our condolences can’t be much helpful.
The nature demonstrated its enormous strength once again. We, human beings, should be more modest (and humble) than we are, but – at the same time – we shouldn’t fall into the trap of the misplaced precautionary principle (so discredited in the debate about the so called global warming), which is a very doubtful instruction how to efficiently block human activity as well as a false advocacy for doing nothing.
Turkey, or Türkiye, has been enormously successful for the first 100 years of its modern statehood and I am convinced that this process will continue. The internal strength of the country will – sooner or later – reassert itself again. Those of us who have followed with great attention and sympathy the developments of your country for a long time are aware of its capabilities and of its potential. I believe the upcoming elections will prove it and will pave the way for your great potential to become a reality.
I like the motto of this year’s Forum which says “End the Distrust, Build the Cooperation”. As someone who has in the last decades – with great sadness and a lot of anger – witnessed the creeping self-destruction of the West, I consider the lack of genuine cooperation in the world, the growing distrust, if not hostility, the return to the Cold War mentality and to the domination of superpowers as a big problem. We have come to Istanbul to make at least a small contribution to the fulfilment of this well-thought out slogan.
We should behave with maximum caution. We should know that it is not possible to jump into the future while forgetting our past, while emptying our present and while expecting a positive future to come automatically. I believe the Turks are aware of that.
In my post-presidential years, I actively participated in three gatherings of the Forum. In 2015, I already had the feeling, and I quote from my eight years old speech here, that “we became witnesses of a new variant of conflict between the East and the West”. I had, of course, in mind the Ukraine internal crisis and dared to criticize – I quote again – “the misuse of Ukraine’s domestic problems for starting a new wave of confrontation between the West and Russia”.
At the 2021 virtual Forum, I tried to explicitly differentiate between Covid and covidism. I argued against the misuse of science (and pseudo-science) to produce a fundamental shift in our societies and in the world order, to create a new normal, a new state of affairs, which redefines and restructures the traditional modes of human relations. I also used my speech to warn against abstract moralism, progressivist authoritarianism and globalist vision of the world order. The aim of this new version of universalist ideology is to suppress our roots, traditions, cultures and religions.
In 2022, when the Ukraine war broke out, I tried to turn attention to my strong belief that “the solution will not come from the two fighting countries only” and that allowing the war to continue “will be extremely risky and hazardous”. It has proved to be risky and hazardous. With many lives lost, with huge destruction of infrastructure and of all kind of material assets.
Let me return to the motto “End the Distrust, Build the Cooperation”. This great idea will not come about from itself. It asks for a new initiative in this respect. The politicians all over the world make strong statements but do nothing to stop the war. Not accidentally. This destructive, totally unacceptable and unjustifiable war is a part of something much bigger. It is the part of a struggle for hegemony in today’s world.
In wars, there are always more variants than just total winning and losing. There are also negotiations and there should be authentic search for compromise. If it is too early and no one has the courage to propose one (because it would bring huge political costs), there must be at least an effort to stop the fighting and reach a ceasefire. We should – all of us – feel responsible for making it easier for both fighting countries to stop the war.
Turkey, as a dominant regional power, plays an important role in all this. This proud and ambitious country, not far from Ukraine, just across the Black Sea, should come up with innovative ideas. Let’s not leave such an initiative in the hands of the superpowers only. They have their own motives, interests and preferences which may not necessarily be compatible with ours.
Let me conclude by wishing your country another successful hundred years.
Václav Klaus, Speech at the 26th Eurasian Economic Summit, Istanbul, March 15, 2023.
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