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6. 4. 2009 8:23

Speech by Prime Minister Topolánek at the EU-USA summit

Dear President Obama, Your Excellencies, Dear Colleagues,

Allow me to welcome you all to today's summit of the twenty-seven EU Member States and the US President Barack Obama on my behalf and on behalf of the Czech Presidency.

I am honored that you have accepted our invitation and that I can welcome you here in Prague.

Today’s summit is a summit of Euro-Atlantic civilization. Civilization that endorsed freedom as one of its basic values. We gathered here, in Prague, in difficult times, when freedom is being put in danger.

On the other hand, we also – sometimes - like to succumb to temptation to curb and demean our freedom for various reasons. I believe that this summit will not go this direction. I believe that today, we will confirm our dedication and will - to protect and strengthen freedom as our undoubted and highest value.

From the reason of rather limited time devoted to our session, we had to restrict ourselves to three issues only. In this respect, I have to apologize to all of my dear colleagues from EU 27, who will not be given the floor today.

However, it was our best intention to allow the speakers to display the whole variety of opinions on given subjects as they are represented in the current EU. Each of the contributions should take only three minutes, I would like to kindly ask you to respect this time limit.

All the three topics on our agenda are - directly or indirectly - connected with freedom and our ability to retain it for today and especially for future. Global economic crisis shatters basic elements of free market, which is a fundamental source of our prosperity and power.

The crisis and its concrete social impacts are scary. But a far more serious peril would be the victory of protectionism, isolationism, state paternalism and ever spreading regulation. Let us find ways, how to help our citizens, not to enslave them. In this regard, we can paraphrase Thomas Jefferson who famously warned that governments are big enough to provide you with anything, but they can also be big enough to deprive you of everything.

Today, we will deal with the issue of energy security as well. If we do not succeed in ensuring sustainable energy sources, our political freedom will become a mere illusion. In the same vein, energy dependency has become nearly the same as power dependency.

Within the framework of this debate, we shall also find the balance between the issue of climate protection and economic freedom. In the end, we will address problems of global security. Specifically, we will engage in the question of our ability to tackle the situation in the Near East, Iran and Afghanistan. Indeed, our ability to find solutions to these challenges, will decide of our future and the kind of world we will live in – either a world of numerous security and social threats or a world of mutual cultural and religious respect.

None of the abovementioned problems can be dealt with by anyone on its own.

I am convinced that despite the variety of our opinions and stances we will be able to reach an agreement. Agreement that will serve to the benefit of our citizens and our countries. Agreement that will confirm the strength and significance of Euro-Atlantic bond and the special character of relations between Europe and America.

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