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12. 4. 2010 22:28

Opening remarks by Minister for European Affairs Juraj Chmiel, Opening of the One World Festival, 12th April 2010, Bozar Centre of Fine Arts

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me focus on one of the most important messages of the One World festival, the one that calls on all governments to remain active and consistent in supporting human rights and democracy in the world that is – as we know very well – just ONE.

20 years have passed since the democratic changes in the former Czechoslovakia. Yet this period of time has not been enough to forget the importance of the external support that had helped to maintain the democratic sentiments and seeds of civil society over the years of repression in our country. And all the more the support was important later on, during the transition period. Now, that human rights and democracy promotion have been the determining feature of the foreign policy of the Czech Republic, we share our experience with both accomplishments and failures we made with the others.

Myself as a diplomat, I have spent almost ten years living and working in Africa where human rights are sometimes a luxury good and a burning issue at the same time. I have seen war with my own eyes: it is for sure the worst of evils. However at times the evil wears more sophisticated clothes and makes less noise, as can be seen in many of the One World movies: and it is still an evil that destroys human lives.

I am particularly pleased to share the auspices of the Brussels One World film festival with Polish friends that we had shared the fate with for decades. I am proud that this festival has also gained support from the Czech-Polish forum. While mentioning the contribution of our Polish friends to the festival, I can’t forget to mention the pain I have suffered - and not only because of my partly Polish origin - after receiving the devastating news of the death of a great Polish politician, the President Lech Kaczyńsky, and many of is compatriots in the air catastrophe just a few days ago. I would like to express once again our condolences and words of sympathy to the families of the tragically killed, as well as support to all Polish citizens and authorities.

Effective support of democracy as a crosscutting, long- term strategic goal, based on partnership with civil society and locally driven processes should be further encouraged throughout the EU external policies as well. I am delighted that it was the Czech and Swedish Presidencies of the EU that negotiated and promoted the Council Conclusions on Democracy Support in EU´s External Relations, approved on 17 November 2009. A symbolic date, that has marked the 20th anniversary of the democratic changes in the then Czechoslovakia. 

Let me finish my remarks by wishing all of you to enjoy this evening and the movies during all the week. I wish these movies provide you with a lot of information, inspiration and encouragement.

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