Celebrating Freedom: His Excellency Vaclav Klaus, President by Vaclav Klaus (speech)

By Vaclav Klaus (speech)

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Additional info for Celebrating Freedom: His Excellency Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, Speaks to Canadians and Americans in November 2004

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A rich and powerful Swiss businessman told me at that time: “I am an old-fashioned Social Democrat, but I would vote for you. ” The feeling of many Czechs was similar. We more or less succeeded in the transition and the current conflict of visions is now very dramatic, as elsewhere. As president I try to unify the country but on the basis of broader, less ideological issues. Personally, I want my country to overcome social-democratism and return to classical liberalism. It is not a modest ambition.

By entering into the EU we gained something and at the same time we lost something. The cost-benefit analysis of such a step is not simple. For us it was a marriage of convenience, not of love. We did not dance in the streets on May 1, 2004. Another issue is the problematic “ever-closer Union” paradigm, which I simply do not share. For that reason I did not go to Rome at the end of October 2004 to sign the EU constitution. This is a radical and far-reaching document with which I do not agree. I am for integration, not for unification, harmonization, standardization, homogenization of the European continent.

What lessons do you have for other countries that may feel they could benefit from a similar mutual parting of the ways? VK: I was born in Czechoslovakia (as a Czech, but my wife is a Slovak) and I did not want this entity to disappear. The country, which was established in 1918, did not, however, survive the rebirth of freedom and to my regret I had to accept that the Slovaks did not feel (and probably never felt) well in this country of two nations. My role was to manage the split in a peaceful way, which I did.

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