Andrej Babiš in 2017 via Wikimedia / David Sedlecký

Despite a difficult journey after communism, the Czech Republic is now thriving, PM Andrej Babiš tells the UN

The Czech Republic has covered a difficult path since the fall of communism 30 years ago, says the Prime Minister

New York, Sept 26 (CTK special correspondent) – The Czech Republic has covered a difficult path since the fall of communism 30 years ago, with its former politicians making mistakes, and now its economy fares well, Czech PM Andrej Babiš said at the UN General Assembly meeting late on Wednesday.

In his speech, Babiš (ANO) said Czechia wishes a strong and united European Union that would join tackling global problems, and emphasised that all countries must meet their climate commitments.

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Babiš mentioned Czechia’s transformation from dictatorship to democracy and also Vaclav Havel, a dissident and later the first post-communist Czechoslovak and Czech president, as a symbol of the then democratic changes.

After the fall of the communist regime, Czechia entered NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004, Babiš stated, emphasising that the country’s path was not easy and that “inexperienced elites have made some unnecessary mistakes.”

“Instead of learning from other countries and implementing the best practices and policies in our economy, public administration and the financial sector, their foolish experiment wasted a lot of time and resources. Eventually we got back on track thanks to the efforts and good will of our citizens, small and large companies, entrepreneurs and employees,” said Babiš, whose ANO movement, established in 2010 and entering the government in 2014 for the first time, has led the Czech party popularity polls for several years.

“Currently the Czech Republic is the seventh safest country in the world. Our economy is growing fast,” Babiš said, mentioning the country’s unemployment rate, which is the lowest in the EU and the “economic growth well above the EU average,” Babiš said.

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The Czechs thus follow up the period between the two world wars, when Czechoslovakia, with its famous industry, was among the most advanced and prosperous countries in the world.

Babiš said the Czech Republic wants a strong and united Europe. He called the EU “the most successful peace project in the world,” but voiced reservations about its global activity.

“Unfortunately, contemporary European Union is not very efficient. I would like to change this,” he said.

As the major challenges faced by the EU, he mentioned Brexit, economic relations, especially the striking of “a very special deal between the EU and the U.S. as soon as possible – such as the one promised by President Trump to United Kingdom in his speech”, the completion of the internal market, relationship with Russia, external security that also means regaining control over migration flows, and the EU enlargement.

Babiš said he would like the European Council to “act like a European coalition government” in future.

In another part of his speech, he focused on climate change, saying this is a problem of the whole world, not only Czechia and the EU.

Asserting that Czechia is meeting its commitments made at the Paris climate conference in 2015, he said the changes must be gradual, based on scientific and technological progress, and must not harm the economy. Crucial is the transition to non-fossil sources of energy, but the solar and wind sources are “generally not effective enough,” Babiš said.

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It is necessary to observe the climate commitments but only few countries do so, though almost everyone joined the commitments, he said.

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“So, in this respect, the young protesters are right: the world is failing to tackle climate change. But the approach they pursue – even greater commitments to reduce carbon emissions – will also fail because green energy is still not ready,” Babiš said.

“My country has no other option than the nuclear one and we must keep the sovereignty of our energy mix intact,” he said.

Mentioning Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish activist who criticised world leaders for their inactivity in fighting the climate change in her emotional speech at the UN climatic summit on Monday, Babiš said he is “not sure that emotional, even aggressive, hysterical theatrics, speech lead to a rational discussion.”

Babiš said there are several other issues than climate change to discuss. “We shouldn’t forget that over 800 million people are still starving this year, around 785 million people don’t have basic access to drinking water, only this year, more than 5.5 million children younger than five are going to die,” he said.

He said the whole area stretching from North Africa to the wider Middle East is a region ripe with conflict and instability.

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“Not solving these conflicts is a source of problems that affect us all,” he said, adding that the UN has a unique responsibility in this.

“This is particularly true for the Security Council, responsible for maintaining peace and security around the globe. The question is of course whether the Security Council is fit to this task. The current practices are sometimes slow and not providing a flexible response,” Babiš said.

“Nowadays, migration is the one of the main issues worldwide,” he continued.

Giving Syria as an example, he said it is necessary to solve causes of crises, not their consequences. That is why he has supported Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s plan to build a secure corridor for returning refugees in northern Syria.

“Refugees must be motivated to return home, and this will only happen when their homes will give them hope again,” Babiš said.

“That is why we support the achievement of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. These will help to eradicate the causes of people fleeing from war zones or leaving economies that are unable to provide them with decent lives,” he said, referring to the UN Agenda whose goals include the eradication of extreme poverty and undernutrition, securing of access to drinking water, doing away with all forms of violence against women and the fight against climate change.

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