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29. 6. 2008 12:29

Speech of the Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek in Darney in France on 29th June 2008

Tomorrow it will be 90 years since the time when here, on the plain near Darney, 6000 Czechoslovak legionnaires lined up to swear an oath. Today we are here again. And all of us know why. We are here to commemorate the Day of Armed Forces of the Czech Republic which is celebrated on the occasion of this event. I had the honour to be here with the delegation of the Senate on 30th June 2002 when this holiday was celebrated for the first time. We are here to commemorate the importance of alliance. Just here in Darney allies solemnly declared the commitment to recognize Czechoslovakia as an independent state. It was just here on this plain where 6000 legionnaires heard for the first time the pledge of prominent politicians. The French President Poincaré, who handed them over the flag of the 21st rifle regiment, was among them. 

We are here to acknowledge the importance of the involvement of Czechoslovak legionnaires in the war. Thanks to them, thanks to their bravery at Zborov on 2nd July 1917 and other battles, the Darney event could take place. Every state, every nation is born in fights. Also Czechoslovakia had had to be fought out in battles of the World War One before it was recognized as an independent state. We are here to confirm permanent validity of words of then legionary oath: "In the name of our national honour, in the name of that what is sacred to us as people and Czech and Slovaks, we are swearing to fight alongside our allies against all enemies." We are here to commemorate that values, on which Czechoslovakia was born, led to establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community, the present European Union. It is symbolical that it will be just the Czech Republic which will take over the presidency to the EU Council from France as legionnaires took over the flag from hands of the President Poincaré. We are here not to forget that even nowadays, when our countries and Europe live in peace, some other countries are not so lucky. Therefore we still need heroes in our missions in Afghanistan and in other countries. That is why the legionary slogan is still valid: "Never escape from the fight, never avoid danger, do not be afraid of death, and sacrifice your life for freedom if necessary."

We are here to thank France for its alliance both ninety years ago and today. We are here to thank our brave ancestors who, through their blood, established bases of our freedom. We are here to say in common that we will never lose this freedom. We swear!

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