18. 11. 2022 15:21

Welcoming remarks of Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Fiala at the International Conference Russia's Hybrid War Against the Democratic World

International Conference Russia's Hybrid War Against the Democratic World, 17 November 2022.
International Conference Russia's Hybrid War Against the Democratic World, 17 November 2022.

Dear guests, ladies and gentlemen,

we celebrate a true holiday of Czech democracy today. The 17th of November 1989 brought back freedom to us. For 33 years, we have had our destiny in our hands.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet Professor Timothy Garton Ash, who is also visiting this conference. Professor Garton Ash was observing the events of 1989 in Central Europe with his own eyes. This experience led him to call it an “annus mirabilis” – a year of miracles.

I will always associate this term with our historic transition. The Velvet Revolution was really a miracle – and that has not changed even after so many years. It was a miracle that the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe came apart without violence.

We seized this opportunity. At first, it was not certain that we would not be discouraged on our way to standard democracy. It was surprising how quickly we rebuilt our democratic institutions and joined the family of Western democracies – even though our democratic traditions had been broken for decades.

All this was a completely new experience for Central and Eastern Europe. Of course, this journey is not over. We keep moving forward.

And so, each anniversary of November 1989 is a challenge. Every year, there are heated debates about it – about where it has taken us and how our expectations have changed. Sometimes, you can even hear the voices that the Velvet Revolution was a disappointment. That we should rather seek salvation outside the world of liberal democracy, in the sphere of our enemy.

It is not a co-incidence. By promoting harmful narratives within our society, Russia is trying to exploit our democracy and turn it against us. Moscow is irritated by freedom. They feel insecure about the power of fair debate, and they want to damage it everywhere they can.

We are attacked like this every day. Not with tanks and missiles, but with sophisticated tools of hybrid war. And my answer is NO.

We know who we are. We know what values are worth defending. And we will not let our democracy – or its most important holiday – be taken away.

Ladies and gentlemen, the resilience of our democracy depends on us. People need to understand its price and they must not hesitate to stand up for it. And thanks to our historical experience, we should easily recognise and confront such dangers. The institutions dedicated to preservation of historical memory, which are co-hosting this conference, are making an important contribution in this respect.

We want to highlight their role. Our government is committed to support them systematically. We have declared this support in our government program statement. And it is also among our priorities of our EU Presidency. The institutions of historical memory strengthen our democracy and keep it resilient in challenging times. Together, we can fight against falsifying history, against distorting reality and spreading lies.

Ladies and gentlemen, we should keep believing in miracles, but we definitely should not rely on them. Instead, let us take care of our memory, a precondition to our freedom and democracy, so that we never lose them again. Thank you.

Petr Fiala, Prime Minister

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