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January 23, 2022

The Czech Republic, a full and responsible member of the EU

by Petr Dokladal, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Romania

It is for the twenty-first time we are celebrating the birth of our modern State as a free and democratic country; we are remembering this date in the Czech Republic – a country whose size is not identical with that of the original Czechoslovak project, yet is still a country with a legitimate claim to the legacy of traditions and values associated with October 28, 1918. I consider it important to celebrate and remember this day. We return thus to the roots of our modern State, we return to the principles on which it was founded, we try to learn as much as we can from the past, drawing as much inspiration as possible for both the present and for the future.

The foundation of our independent State was – and in this the historians have not lied to us – the result of a long-term endeavour to achieve national emancipation, shared, especially in the 19th century, by almost all the components of Czech society of that time. We also know how crucial was the enormous activity of T. G .Masaryk our first president and his colleagues in this endeavour, how important was the heroism of thousands of Czech legionnaires. It was thanks to them that our nation and our country won international recognition and acclaim, and that it was able to stand on the side of the victors after the First World War.
In the years of the First Republic (1918-1938), our country very soon joined the ranks of the most developed European states. Anybody could see it was flourishing, opening up to the world to which it had much to offer both spiritually and materially. Masaryk’s democratic and humanistic ideals had such a substantial influence on Czech political thought that they became a part of the deepest conscience of our nation. For many decades they were like a mirror reflecting the distorted reality of the totalitarian environment of the later years.

But even those days were not in our country an idyllic time of general wellbeing and civic accord. The Republic was born at a time which was affected by deep post-war disillusion and instability. The burden of the world economic depression fell heavily on the shoulders of its people. They had to struggle with national tensions, political instability, and with considerable social deprivation. Moreover, a crushing majority of our German co-citizens decided at that time to turn away from the democratic State and adopt instead Hitler’s national socialist programme – which led to the occupation and the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (1939-1945). The disenchantment caused by the war and the resulting weakness then facilitated the submission of a significant part of our citizens to communist propaganda. What followed afterwards was half a century of oppression and devastation, causing immeasurable damage in both the material and spiritual fields. During all this time the legacy of October 28 was denied and distorted.
In November 1989, in a rare sense of accord, the majority of our population set out on the road of restoration of democracy and market economy. The challenge lying ahead was gigantic and I believe that – in spite of all the existing problems – we have managed to respond to it adequately.

We have rapidly developed a democratic political system which has since taken root and achieved stability. We have opened up and liberalized our economy and have carried out the massive privatisation of a totally “etatised” country. Our economy survived the disintegration of the communist block and within a short time found new markets. Essential changes have occurred in our way of life, into which earlier non-existent and often even unsuspected opportunities have been projected. The relations with our neighbours and European partners including traditionally friendly Romania are excellent. Probably for the first time in its history our country need not face any immediate external threat. It is a member of NATO and a member of the European Union.

The Czech Republic as a full and responsible member of the EU, is trying to contribute not only to solving particular items of the current EU agenda, but also to influence the further development of the whole concept of the European integration project.

The European agenda also gives a new dimension to our bilateral co-operation. The Czech Republic and Romania have today excellent political, economical and cultural relations.

I would wish both countries materialization during next years of all the immense potential in various fields of our relationship.

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