October 28, 2012

Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps on the Occasion of the Czech National Day


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me and for my wife to welcome you here at the Prague Castle on the occasion of the Czech National Day. We are pleased and honored that also this year His Excellency, the Apostolic Nuncio, will speak to us on behalf of the diplomatic corps. Mr. Ambassador, you have been traditionally adding a spiritual dimension to this festive occasion.
Excellencies, this year, I am meeting you at this historic place as the President of the Czech Republic for the last time. It has been a privilege for me to address you and your predecessors on the occasion of the Czech National Day every year in the past ten years. As the President of the Czech Republic, I have many obligations and duties on this festive day, but the meeting with the heads of the diplomatic missions, who all presented credentials into my hands, belongs to the most important ones.
I believe that you see the Czech Republic as a reliable partner and a friendly country. During my presidential mandate my wife and I have traveled frequently in order to enhance the Czech Republic’s relations with the countries you represent – with our neighboring countries, with the EU member states, with our NATO allies and with our important partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America. I have been looking at each of your countries with full respect to the traditions and customs, to the historical and geopolitical realities, as well as to the constitutional and political arrangements.
I have always recognized that each and every country has its authentic interests and a right and obligation to promote them on the international arena. Our country also has its own interests, stemming from our historical experience, geopolitical and economic circumstances, and I feel certain that if any country is to be reliable and respected abroad, it must promote its interests openly, it must identify the interests it has in common with its partners abroad and it must be also pointing at issues which it considers problematic.
Let me be very explicit by saying that the concept of genuine national interests has nothing in common with nationalism, as it is so often caricatured these days. These interests have a meaning on condition that a country is respected as a basic entity of public life. It must be sovereign, that is able to decide about its own affairs.
In September, we commemorated seventy five years since the death of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the founder of Czechoslovakia who has become an inspiration for our restored democracy after 1989. We do not forget that it was President Masaryk who substantially contributed to the creation of a modern, independent and democratic state for our nation. Those Czechs, and I will always be among them, who remember Masaryk and endorse his legacy, wish to retain our statehood and are ready to defend its independence and sovereignty.
That is why I wish to see Europe as a community of democratic states. States which cooperate with each other, without any hegemon among them or above them. That is why I wish the countries to remain basic entities of our lives, retaining their governments with executive power and parliaments with legislative power, elected by their citizens and accountable to them. That is why I wish European integration to develop on intergovernmental basis in the direction which is and will be initiated and agreed upon by the states participating in it. The current European crisis should be seen as an opportunity for a fundamental systemic change of the European integration model on the one hand and of the European overregulated and paternalistic social and economic system on the other.
I guess that you would also be interested to hear something about the Czech domestic political issues. I have to disappoint you now. I will touch upon some of them in my speech tonight.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased we can celebrate this day together. I would like to thank each one of you for everything you have been doing for a successful development of relations between the Czech Republic and your countries. You are most welcome to join us tonight for the state decorations ceremony and reception at the Vladislav Hall of the Prague Castle.
Václav Klaus, The Rothmayer Hall, Prague Castle, 28 October 2012