Pavel at Forum 2000: Democracy is vulnerable and cannot be taken for granted

Also speaking at the Prague conference, Moldovan President Maia Sandu highlighted similarities between Czechoslovakia and Moldova’s history. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 16.10.2023 16:05:00 (updated on 16.10.2023) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech President Petr Pavel highlighted the vulnerability of democracy and the need to defend it, during his speech on Monday at the opening ceremony of the plenary session of the Forum 2000 conference in Prague. He emphasized that disinformation and hybrid warfare pose significant threats to democratic societies, as they undermine debate, fact-based decision-making, and social cohesion.

Pavel also noted the dangers of the rapid spread of misinformation, incitement to hatred, and narratives based on lies. He further stressed that these actions not only "undermine the cohesion of society" but also compromise long-term security and prosperity.

Czechia's democratic trajectory as roadmap for other countries

According to Pavel, the current experience with disinformation and hybrid conflict management has shown that democracy is constantly under pressure and cannot be taken for granted. Pavel said that, in recent decades, the Czech Republic has focused on "development and transformation cooperation with countries that have undergone a similar process as we did in the 1990s. However, there is a growing need to defend democracy within our own democratic societies."

Furthermore, Pavel emphasized that fundamental rights and freedoms have always been the foundation of prosperity and security. In an era of increasing technological influence, the debate should revolve around how to preserve freedom of speech and strengthen the resilience of democratic institutions. "Freedom of speech goes hand in hand with responsibility," he added.

According to Pavel, there is an ongoing fight for freedom, human rights, and democracy in countries like Ukraine, which is resisting Russian aggression. At the same time, the strategic rivals of democratic nations are undermining these values. Pavel emphasized that unity, dialogue, and cooperation are the keys to strength and resilience against any threat.

what is forum 2000?

  • The conference was established in 1997 by then-Czech President Václav Havel, writer Elie Wiesel, and Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa.
  • Its aim was to provide a platform for discussions about democracy "even at a time when our own politicians were suppressing and downplaying" its value, Pavel said on Monday.
  • This year's theme is “For a Democratic World Order,” with discussions on how democracies and democrats can work together to face common challenges.
  • The discussions will focus on the areas of Democracies Retaking the Initiative, Technology and Democracy, Promoting Democracy in an Unfree Environment, and Thematic and Regional Focus.

During the discussion on the theme Democracy Standing Together Against Challenges, Pavel also shared his thoughts on the situation in Israel, urging rational assessment rather than emotional approaches. He emphasized the need to punish the culprits while pursuing a peaceful solution as soon as possible.


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Central Europe as valuable ally for Moldova

During the Forum 2000 conference, Moldovan President Maia Sandu expressed her confidence in Moldova's fight for democracy and gratitude towards the countries in Central and Eastern Europe for supporting Moldova's aspirations to join the EU.

In her speech, she drew parallels between Czechoslovakia's history and the current situation in Moldova, highlighting Russia's desire to exert control over former Soviet Union countries, similar to its control over Eastern Bloc countries in the past.

In her view, Central and Eastern European countries understand more than anyone else how Moldova is being held against its will. It is now Moldova's turn, she said, to come out on the bright side and determine its own destiny as a democracy. Sandu said that for too long, Moldovans could not be themselves, but they endured and were taking back their dignity, adding that Moldova was now rebuilding its European identity.

Relations between Russia and Moldova have been at a standstill since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which led to Chişinău's turning away from Moscow and becoming a candidate for EU membership along with Ukraine. This is the third time Sandu has attended the Forum 2000 conference, having come last time in 2019 as Moldova's prime minister.

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