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Speeches

M. Topolánek, Address to World Summit 2020

Address to World Summit 2020, Seoul, Korea, February 3-8, 2020

 

My name is Mirek Topolánek. I am a former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and a 64-year-old pensioner. I am a standard of unacceptability in the EU New Deal. Everything is wrong with me! I am an old, white, heterosexual, politically incorrect man. And Catholic! I have too many children and too many grandchildren making a big carbon footprint. I am a supporter of liberal capitalism and conservative values: Christian ethics, faith, diligence, thrift and responsibility, education, protection of the traditional family, cultural heritage and property. I love freedom and equality of opportunity much more than solidarity and equality in the outcome. Am I in the right place here today? Undoubtedly yes!

My country has not attacked, occupied, or colonized anyone in the last 400 years. We were attacked, occupied, colonized. We enjoyed relative freedom and independence only a little over one tenth of this time. If anyone understands what we’re dealing with here, it’s me – a man from the country of Václav Havel.

The first conclusion: To realize a world of lasting peace doesn’t mean an appeasement and weakness. On the contrary! We must be brave, strong and unified in our effort! We need to realize that a world of lasting peace is not “make love, not war.” It is a fight against evil. Always, everywhere, without exception! This is our responsibility as a peacemaker!

My recently deceased friend, Israeli President Simon Peres, once told me: “Mirek, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will never be resolved by politicians. Half of them do not believe in any solution and the others do not want to solve it actually. Only through common and mutual business can there be some chance.”

We have to explain these very frequently used words in our vocabulary: equality and poverty. The 2,153 world dollar billionaires had more wealth than 4.6 billion people in 2019. Over the past decade, the number of world billionaires has doubled, and the richest people have twice as much wealth as the rest of the population put together. It is crazy. But is it really so important? Is the free market to blame? I am convinced the opposite is true! It is free and fair trade, free market, and removing mutual barriers to business that decrease the poverty and bring mutual prosperity and interdependence potentially. However, we have to be careful with whom we do business. We often strengthen the regime by trading with a totalitarian state, and people remain poor. The world is only doing as well as its poorest. The speed of the convoy is governed by the speed of the slowest ship.

The second conclusion: Equality doesn’t mean equality if the outcome is through the equal sharing of misery. We must, above all, strive for equality of opportunity and not equality with the outcome only to reduce poverty. People are different. However, they must receive the same chance, the same opportunity. Always, everywhere, without exception! This is our responsibility as a peacemaker!

In the early 1990s – after the Velvet Revolution – I travelled with a backpack in France. Before that, I was locked in the Bolshevik camp behind the Iron Curtain without the possibility of traveling. One night I slept at Gare de Paris-Nord. I didn’t have the money for a hotel. There were about ten of us sleeping on mats. A black guy with dreadlocks came and asked me where the water was. I explained to him how to get to the toilet politely. A half-sleeping Canadian lying next to me gave a bottle of water to the newcomer without words – naturally, no problem. I envied him. The people locked for a long time as animals in an aquarium [əˈkwe(ə)rēəm] like we were, didn’t understand. That’s why we must be free, proud, self-confident and, above all, humble and tolerant.

My Lebanese friend Ahmed in Prague has a Czech wife, two children, and an honest job in which he spends 15 hours a day. He had to overcome mistrust, bullying by the authorities, language and cultural barriers. As a Muslim, he respects our customs, traditions, and Christian holidays. He is an example of a welcomed, conflict-free migrant. But he is not happy. His children, even under the media pressure of anti-migration hysteria, are ashamed of him. I don’t know whom I pity more.

The third conclusion: Tolerance doesn’t mean political correctness. Tolerance is primarily a love for your neighbors naturally. Tolerance doesn’t mean a submission! It is a strong fight against the hate, against discrimination, intolerance, and xenophobia all at the same time. Always, everywhere, without exception! This is our responsibility as a peacemaker!

Human rights activist and Kurdish leader of Future Syria Party Hervin Khalaf has been raped and stoned to death. It is an almost daily report from the region, in which religion is abused for monstrous purposes.

I’ve been in South Sudan several times. The last time, I had just signed a contract in Juba to build a fuel store when the war started. An already poor country has fallen into disaster. The protracted nutritional crisis caused by crop failure and armed conflict has grown into famine. Half a million people would not survive without food aid. More than a million of the population are children.

Human rights and freedoms are universal; a sense of perception is given to each individual – no matter in which country, in what culture and religion. When we say “human rights,” do we mean – at least in this hall – the same thing? If people in South Sudan, North Korea, or even China speak of human rights at all, do they mean the “natural” right to life, to freedom and dignity, or the right to work, self-determination, environment, and sustainable development? Or do they suffer from lack of any collective or minority rights, or the right to the Internet, or the right to share in our wealth (such as it may be)?

While we in Europe have enforced first-, second-, and even third-generation rights into our constitutional systems, and have a lively debate on the fourth generation of rights, most people on the Earth would like to guarantee at least basic “first-generation” natural human rights. Not to mention people who do not have basic rights and, moreover, they do not have their basic needs met. They are without food, water, light, heat, electricity, and a roof overhead. Their only desire is to survive.

As long as human rights will not apply to everyone in the world, it is pointless and arrogant to extend some additional ones only to some. Perpetrators of good and perpetrators of evil are only two sides of one fake coin. Newer and newer dreamers come up with the ideal of equality, in the name of class, ethnic, religious, gender, multicultural rights, and call for group advantage. Newer and newer villains call for class, racial, religious, sexual and other struggles, partial discrimination, and group exclusion. Freedom always comes from the individual.

The fourth conclusion: The fight against wrongdoing doesn’t mean to be “perpetrators” of good. We want the basic human rights to be valid for all in the whole world. Now. Forever! Always, everywhere, without exception! This is our responsibility as a peacemaker!

What can we do?

There is no authority to enforce human rights, to reduce poverty and to realize a world of lasting peace from outside. Direct military intervention is possible only as an exception. The concept of exporting democracy and human rights to traditional Islamic countries has proved to be totally flawed. The sanctions are not 100% effective. The decisive break can only come from within. It took in my country 40 years. The international community’s ability to positively influence the development of individual countries is relatively small. However, this is not a reason to resign. We have to combine economic and political pressure, financial and moral support for opponents of the regime, better work of international institutions, and truly inform the world public. We have to push strongly our governments, our communities, our fields of endeavor. The erosion and, subsequently, the fall of oppressive governments can be achieved. Maybe. We have to believe our power and empower those people living in such situations.

Always, everywhere, without exception! This is our responsibility as a peacemaker!

 

 


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