Speeches

30. 4. 2019 18:19

Prime Minister: After joining NATO, our membership of the EU must be considered a return of its kind to Europe, where we have always belonged

Prime Minister: After joining NATO, our membership of the EU must be considered a return of its kind to Europe, where we have always belonged, 30 April 2019.
Prime Minister: After joining NATO, our membership of the EU must be considered a return of its kind to Europe, where we have always belonged, 30 April 2019.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, together with Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček, attended the gala evening commemorating 15 years of the Czech Republic’s accession to the European Union in the DOX Gallery.

Prime Minister’s address to celebrate 15 years since the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU

We are celebrating fifteen years since joining the European Union. Recently, it has become a kind of fashion that merit for joining NATO or the EU is attributed only to individuals and politicians who earn honours for it. But I see it differently.

The accession of our country to NATO and the EU was the result of the work and responsibility of all honest, decent, hardworking and enterprising people in the country. All those who went to work in the 1990s and were not discouraged by the robberies in politics, during privatization and often in the companies where they worked. And also thanks to hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs who set up new businesses and created jobs responsibly without primarily aiming to enrich themselves.

I would like to thank all of them today for having managed to join the EU together, to build democracy and a market economy with all the necessary institutions. Let’s not give laurels only to former politicians and potentates. Let us not forget that the politicians of the 1990s caused failed privatization, stolen funds or bankrupt banks. Slovakia almost did not get to NATO due to Mečiar’s mafia capitalism, it was better in our country, but it was also close.

You, the hard-working and decent people had to pay for all the mistakes and thievery. Not only for yourselves, but also for our country to become successful. The errors made during transformation of the 1990s have implications until today. Our banks are controlled by their Western European mother companies, who suck out huge dividends. We let the money get stolen in the 1990s and the governments had no choice but to sell them to foreign owners.

After joining NATO, our membership of the EU must be considered a return of its kind to Europe, where we have always belonged Everything was thwarted by the Second World War, which caused us to be in the Eastern Soviet sphere of influence, isolated behind an impervious iron curtain. Culturally, politically and economically. The Union is a peace project and thanks to it, Europe has had 75 years of peace, and that is the most important and most valuable. This is precisely why our membership is not a topic for discussion or referendum. It is unquestionable and irreversible. However, we will not only be active and cooperative in the EU, but also critical, if necessary.

The Union’s greatest benefit, in addition to peace, is access to the single European market and our firm place in it. Security and defence are mainly guaranteed by NATO.

We are a traditional industrial and open economy, and this market is crucial for us, especially after the markets of the former CMEA collapsed in the first half of the 1990s. Thanks to the EU we have a place to export and companies from the Union can invest here. Only EU membership has assured foreign investors that we are politically stable, that we are a functioning market economy with the rule of law.

What is important is that we are sitting at one table in the EU, no decisions are made without us. Norway, for example, which is not a member, has to adopt all the regulations and decisions to be allowed to participate in the single market.

European money is also a positive thing, but I do not know whether we used it well after accession; in my opinion we should have supported infrastructure projects more, especially the construction of roads and railways. Erasmus exchange projects are a big success, students have the opportunity to see other countries, improve language skills, gain experience. Similarly, Schengen, traveling without border controls, is a clear success. We would like it to apply across the EU so that the whole external border is the Schengen border. We also want to extend the Union to the countries of the Western Balkans, so that the border of Europe more or less match that of the EU (except Norway and Switzerland) while maintaining the existing eastern borders of the Union.

It would be great if the EU could play a more important role in international affairs. It is unacceptable that when looking for a peaceful solution to the situation in Syria, it is not among the players. However, it plays an important role in negotiating trade agreements, in climate change negotiations, etc.

First of all, I would like to reiterate that none of the disadvantages is a reason for leaving the EU. On the contrary, a critical attitude is a motivation for us to be active.

We are overwhelmed by the excessive regulation that comes from Brussels and we need to gain more insight into its origin. People then feel that Brussels only make up nonsense. We do not like the exaggerated political correctness that comes from the EU. This leads to the use of unnatural language and the fear of describing things as they really are.

Combating climate change is certainly important, but the EU cannot be the only one leading it. Europe cannot eliminate its businesses from competition, while China, Africa and India will pollute and increase their carbon footprint as they please.

As has already been said, we do not like the ideas of Brussels and many large countries for the redistribution of migrants. Here, our opinion is clear.

We want airtight protection of the EU’s external borders. We will choose ourselves who will live in our country, and asylum will be granted under our laws.

Another problem is the fragmentation and reduction of the Single Market project. We are criticized for not having a positive agenda. Completing, deepening and protecting the Single Market – this is a great positive agenda. As far as the euro area is concerned, we must wait to see if and how it will be reformed.

We want airtight protection of the EU’s external borders. We will decide ourselves who will live in our country.

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister

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