## Tuesday, January 01, 2008

### Klaus: a nice New Year's address

A short report.

In his New Year's speech, Czech President Václav Klaus reminded us that the most important events in Czechoslovakia occurred in years that ended with the figure "8", much like 2008. We happily remember the year 1918 when Czechoslovakia was founded. 1938 when we were betrayed and the integrity of the republic was destroyed is our worst memory. The victory of communism in 1948 influenced our future for the longest period of time but we shouldn't play the games of the past. The Prague Spring in 1968 was a reaction to people's desire for freedom and democracy and its results have shown that communism couldn't operate without violence.

The Schengen development effectively dissolved our borders which could be good for many reasons but it also poises some risks.

Our era is arguably the happiest era of the Czech nation so far. The economy is quickly growing and is close to the richest countries of the EU. However, material wealth may often mask a lack of time and love. We shouldn't try to hide the problems that exist, including those of groups of people such as the Gipsies. The government and other institutions can't replace the role of families.

The energy prices were cited as the most significant economic risk. They contribute to the growth of other prices, too. Moreover, the food prices also go up, partly because the land is being increasingly misused for other things than food production, for example for the production of renewable sources of energy. We should be rational about these things.

Well, Klaus is at a completely different level than some of his colleagues and predecessors. Compare him e.g. with Gustáv Husák, the last communist president. In his 1985 New Year's speech, he starts by saying "If we should evaluate the year 1800 ... 1984 ..." Note that his assistants returned the clock and they were shooting the speech from the scratch. It is a funny clip but the speech is somewhat less impressive than Klaus's speech that was moreover broadcasted live.