Czech president's speech calls on society to overcome fear in aftermath of shooting

President Petr Pavel's speech also touched on euro adoption, the success and failures of the current government, and the vulgarization of politics.


Written by ČTK Published on 01.01.2024 16:36:00 (updated on 01.01.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech President Petr Pavel delivered a somber New Year's speech today from Prague Castle in the aftermath of the tragic shooting at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague. The incident, which occurred on Dec. 21, claimed the lives of 14 individuals, injured 25 others, and left the nation in shock.

President Pavel expressed profound sadness, regret, and anger over the loss of lives, emphasizing the need for society to overcome fear. In his first New Year's address since assuming office in March 2023, Pavel urged resilience, emphasizing that the joy of life and hope for better times should not be overshadowed by this tragedy. He called for unity, stressing the importance of remembering personal heroism, and standing up to evil.

"The senseless loss of so many lives, in most cases young lives, has caused us enormous sadness, regret, but also inner anger," the President said. "While these feelings will remain with us for a long time, as a society we must first and foremost overcome our fear. We cannot let the joy of life and the hope for better times be taken away," he added.

Photo via Prague Castle
Photo via Prague Castle

President Pavel also acknowledged the necessity of analyzing the incident to improve laws, controls, and measures. Despite the challenges, he emphasized the importance of maintaining freedom without succumbing to fear.

Pavel appealed to citizens to contribute to the safety of families, streets, communities, and the country, encouraging them not to ignore problems and to stand up against aggression, even on social media.

Additionally, he addressed the younger generation, recognizing the difficulties they face in a rapidly changing world, and urged them to be agents of positive change.

Pavel criticizes government's communication, vulgarization of politics

In a comprehensive New Year's speech, President Pavel touched upon various aspects of Czech society. He expressed concern over the government's failure to effectively communicate its measures and reform steps, urging transparency and citizen engagement.

While acknowledging the challenges of a five-party coalition, Pavel commended the government for maintaining unity and addressing the country's debt.

The President added that he was not pleased with the vulgarization of political discussion.

"Disagreements belong to democracy and can be fruitful. But if they slide into ignorant haggling, slander, or even insults, it is a failure that does not bring anything good," he said. He appealed to politicians to take cultivating public space, not devaluing it, as one of their New Year’s resolutions.

President advocates for euro adoption

Issues such as the energy crisis, economic stagnation, inflation, security, or environmental protection do not vanish when we close our eyes, Pavel stated. On the contrary, he called for a responsible evaluation of the realism of solutions proposed by politicians.

Furthermore, President Pavel advocated for concrete steps towards adopting the euro, citing it as the logical future for Czechia. Despite ongoing debates about the advantages and disadvantages, Pavel emphasized the need to fulfill the commitment to euro adoption after years of discussions.

"After all these years, it is time to start taking concrete steps that will lead us to fulfilling this commitment [to adopt the euro]. Despite the endless discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of the euro for a country with an open and export-oriented economy, located in the center of Europe, the single currency is the logical future," the President noted.

Pavel stressed that the EU, along with NATO, provides Czechia with strong partners and a guarantee of support in today's uncertain world.

In 2024, Czechia commemorates the 20th anniversary of its membership in the European Union and 25 years after joining NATO.

Pavel said in his speech that this is an opportunity to look back to the past while looking forward and remembering our commitments. He noted that the defense spending will reach 2 percent of GDP this year.

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