Speeches

12. 11. 2020 11:54

Speech by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš at the Conference Multiple Challenges for Transatlantic Partnerships

Dear ladies and gentlemen!

Thank you for having an opportunity to open this conference organized by the European Liberal Forum and the Institute for Politics and Society, which will be devoted to the future and challenges of transatlantic relationship, relationship between Europe and North American countries, relationship between European Union and the United States, and relationships within NATO, North atlantic treaty organization.

We cannot imagine better timing for such an important debate. There is a new president elect in the US, Joe Biden. He is elected in a team with a first female vice president Kamala Harris. There is a lot of expectation in Europe related to this new choice of American people.

First let me emphasize the excellent relationship between Czechoslovakia and then Czech republic and the United States. There would be no independent Czechoslovakia without the support of the US. American president Woodrow Wilson and American citizens of Czech and Slovak origin were the active and influential supporters of the creation of independent and democratic Czechoslovakia. Our first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk deeply admired the American democracy and was greatly inspired by its system, principles and values. His wife was an American.

Czechoslovakia after 1918 was also an attempt to have - like US - a state of different nations, and nationalities, based on mutual tolerance of different religions, freedom etc. In central Europe, between the wars, Czechoslovakia was the only functioning democracy in the region, escapes from authoritarian neighbours in the region found refuge in our country.

During the Second World War Americans participated in the liberation of Czechoslovakia from the Nazi occupation and after 1989 Americans supported our democratic transition and welcomed us back into the family of proud and free democratic nations.

Since 1989 our friendship and cooperation has been flourishing. Already in 1991 Czechoslovakian troops actively participated in a liberation of Kuwait and after we joined forces in a NATO alliance, Czech army was fighting hand in hand with our American allies in Afghanistan (with a lot of casualties) and Czech troops and police helped Americans in Iraq and Balkans including Kosovo and other places.

I should emphasize that the government of which I am a prime minister, is the first Czech government which invested heavily into American equipment. We bought American helicopters which is a major acquisition and despite the economic crisis connected to pandemic we are strongly investing into our armed forces and are on the right track to increase our defense spending and fulfill our commitments to NATO. 

We are leaders in cybersecurity and our country hosted a very important conference of allies on 5G and security. Like a politician I myself visited the US three times, first as a finance minister where I met by the way with Michael Bloomberg, like a prime minister I met Mr.Trump in the White House and after the UN speech last year I visited New York a Boston, which was a mainly promotion trip for improving Czech-US business and economic relationship with an emphasis on cooperation in a field of technology, science and innovation.

In August this year we welcomed in Prague US foreign minister Michael Pompeo.  

We are thankful that Americans send us some medical doctors from National Guards who will help us with the treatment of Covid-19 patients.  

Now let me mention new development. We are very much looking forward to cooperating with a new American administration, with president Joe Biden and his team.

Very important topic for the whole of Europe and the EU is the urgent need to improve our trade relationship. We should say good bye to any attempts and threats of trade wars and we should work hard to liberalize our mutual trade relationship. Perhaps we do not have to be as ambitious and comprehensive as abandoned treaty TTIP, but mutual trade and investments between the US and Europe should start to flourish again.

We are looking forward for the US to come back on board to international agreements, first of all the Paris climate accord. Czech Republic is ready to cooperate with the US and Canada on the development and implementation of new environmentally clean technologies and energy savings. However, while fulfilling very ambitious targets to lower the CO2 emissions, we should be very careful not to destroy the competitiveness of our industries and we should be able to guarantee that big countries - like India and China - are also reducing emissions as they promised.

But we are also looking forward to more active US cooperation in WTO, UN.

We have a lot of room – not only Czech Republic but also European Union - to improve scientific cooperation with the US, exchange in research and development, education and technological innovation. This is very important for me, not only due to challenges connected to healthcare and the pandemic of Covid 19.

Both of our continents Europe and America and all countries in these continents have a mutually connected and mutually mixed history. We share the same values, traditions, same principles, we believe in democracy, freedom, liberties and human rights. We should not forget that together we are also stronger.  

Andrej Babiš, Prime Minister

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