Speeches

22. 8. 2018 15:08

Prime Minister Babiš paid his respects to the victims of the occupation at the Czech Radio

Prime Minister Babiš paid his respects to the victims of the occupation at the Czech Radio, 21 August 2018.
Prime Minister Babiš paid his respects to the victims of the occupation at the Czech Radio, 21 August 2018.
On Tuesday 21 August 2018, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš attended a memorial ceremony in front of the Czech Radio building, held on the anniversary of the August 1968 events.

Babiš praised defenders and employees of the Czechoslovak Radio, who became a symbol of resistance against the occupation. He also expressed his admiration for all those who behaved bravely in connection with the occupation, not only in the streets of Prague.

Victims of the occupation were also honoured by  President of the Senate Milan Štěch, President of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondráček, Minister of Defence Jan Metnar, Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk, mayor of Prague Adriana Krnáčová, Director General of the Czech Television René Zavoral, and other important guests.

A modified memorial plaque on the Radio building was unveiled at the end of the memorial act, with two missing names of victims of the battle over the Radio added.

Speech of Prime Minister Andre Babiš during the memorial act in front of the Czech Radio building

Dear fellow citizens, ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad I can join you in honouring the memory of brave defendants of the Czech Radio on the occasion of the 50th anniversary on 21 August 2018. There are milestones in our history that influenced people's lives for a long time. The year 1986 is undoubtedly one of them.

A revival process started in Czechoslovakia in early 1968, and it supported entire generations in their search for a new, more free, fair and open social system, as they used to say “socialism with a human face”. People placed great hopes in that revival process, and support for liberalization trends became almost nation-wide. Most people then believed in the process of democratization.

People associated the revival process with freedom, freedom of expression and association, free press or culture or the ability to freely travel and discover the world. People also wanted a substantial increase in well-being and living standards. They no longer wanted the communist dictatorship of the Eastern Soviet type. Simply put, they wanted to live in a normal free society.

The reform process and liberalization of the society were terminated by the invasion of the troops of the Warsaw Pact.  Subsequently, all efforts for a change for the better were stopped by normalizers. The suppression of the Prague Spring marked the lives of our people for many years to come. Enthusiasm was gradually replaced by disillusionment and disappointment.

The occupation and, more importantly, everything that followed, was a big social trauma for Czechoslovakia in 1968. For many citizens who actively engaged in the revival process or liberalization and democratization of the company, ‘normalization’ meant dismissal from their jobs or even imprisonment, restoration of censorship, dissolution of most interest and political associations, and other restrictions on civil liberties. A significant part of intelligence also gradually emigrated from our country.

The invasion of the troops was brutal, and our people died during the invasion. Right here at the Czech Radio building, non-invited soldiers were shooting at its defenders, who were protecting the freedom of speech and provision of truthful to our citizens. The Czechoslovak Radio – its defenders and employees – became a symbol of resistance against the occupation.

Allow me to express, in this place, my respect and admiration to these defenders and patriots who did not hesitate to risk their lives for freedom and their country.

Allow me to express admiration for all people who behaved bravely in connection with the occupation, not only in the streets of Prague. Let us remember people like Olympic winner Věra Čáslavská, who drew attention to the occupation with her brave act in the Olympic Games in Mexico. An act for which she had to face serious consequences.

Allow me to also mention the feelings in the society. In 1968, people were first enthusiastic and then disappointed. In November 1989, people were also full of enthusiasm only to come to realize later that having democracy and building a free, decent and prosperous society is a hard and actually never ending work. Too often do we see that many people only abuse freedom to get as much as they can for themselves. Too often do we see efforts to divide the society to the chosen ones and those who should only remain silent and should even not vote because they vote differently than the so-called elites wish. We are witnesses of endless political disputes with fake pretences, which only further polarize the society.

I do not agree with the claim that freedoms are compromised nowadays. Everyone can say and write what they want, everyone can found a party or a movement or change their electoral preferences. And if they do not like something or someone, they can criticize in any way and fight against that, or they can elect someone else in the next elections. Freedom and democracy is mostly about being able to admit that someone has the right for a different opinion and a different preference than I have.

We have many skilled and talented people with tremendous potential in Czechia, but little is written about them. As if we were unable to appreciate the success of our own people. All we see everywhere is conflicts and fights. Success should certainly not arouse envy. We should be more proud of us and be cable to bring into light skilled and talented people; we should write and talk about them. If we continue to fight against each other and create conflicts, skilled people will not even want to engage in any activities for the society. We are a nation with a great tradition and we have many reasons to be proud of ourselves.

Thank you.

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister

 

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