PANEL DISCUSSION 2022
THE CENTRAL EUROPEAN
IS VITAL FOR US
Ladies and gentlemen, dear organizers, thank you very much for this invitation.
It's a great honour for me. It's a pleasure to be here. But at the same time, I felt it as an obligation to come here and to be with you. Thank you very much. I come from everyday politics. I am from conservative wing of law and justice. I belong to the members of Parliament who try to defend traditional values and traditional freedoms.
Thank you very much, Mr. Professor, for your contribution. I might say it could be mine. So thank you that you said everything about philosophical aspects of challenges of today's politics. It's true. Progressive politics. Progressive philosophy is a great danger for our culture, for our countries, for human dignity as well.
I came to see you to encourage you to be brave and to be strong. Defending Christian values in public sphere, not be scared by critics in your own countries and critics from abroad. I think we can and we are able to defend our convictions, even if it is sometimes really not possible in every aspect.
I'm going to say about three things about common heritage, about values, and about cooperation among Central European countries. And organizations from our region. So it is a moment to thank you for organizers to do it.
As for a common heritage, there are many points which are important for us in Central Europe. I will name five. First is Saint Adalbert, Święty Wojciech. I come from Poznań, which is in Great Poland. It's part of Poland near to Gniezno. I was raised up in these two places, in Poznań and Gniezno. My parish was for long time, Cathedral Parish in Gniezno, where relics of Święty Wojciech you can see. And there are many dimensions of this person of your, of your pattern. But for me, the most important is missionary dimension. Not that he was aristocrat. He was from the king's family. That he was martyr. He was missionary person. He understood that his obligation is to spread good novel. And in many places in Hungary at the beginning, then in Poland. Martyrdom was only consequence of this conviction. And I think it is good pattern, not only because it is a good link between Czech, Slovaks, Hungarians and Polish, but because he is missionary spirit. So spirit for us in this hard days of today, not easy days of today.
The second point in common is kings tradition. Tradition of our kingdoms and our kings. Polish kings were kings in Czechia and then Hungary and Hungarian and Czech kings were rulers in Poland. So we have a lot of in common.
The third thing is resistance against Ottoman Empire. Resistance which lasted for a couple of centuries. With Battle of Vienna 1683, but in fact, with hundreds of battles where we were fighting together from 15th century until end of 17th century.
Common think is our the last decades of Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Franz Josef times, which are in different way, remembered in our countries, but in many places with some kind of nostalgia.
And the last thing is our struggle against communism, which were. Which was different. Different in Czech, yeah, in Hungarian, in Serbia, in Croatia, in Slovenian, and Romanian, and Baltic countries. In Poland. Very different. But it is our common experience.
So summarizing. We have a lot of in common. Really. A lot. It's a great common heritage which unite us and which makes we feel he here in Prague as among members of as in one family. Thank you very much for this. And it is good foundation for everything which we can do in Europe, which we can do in the future.
The second part of my short statement is about values. As I said, I came here to encourage you to defend them, to defend Christian values. We don't have to call them Christian because we call them in secular way. Saying about natural rights or constitutional rights. But, uh, anyway, uh, it's the same. Or it might be the same thing. Among them are some which are the most important. Joseph Ratzinger called the most important from them non-negotiable values. It is life. It is family. It is right of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs. And it's freedom of religion. That's freedom of conscience.
These are the most important rights and freedoms, but they have consequences. As for education, as for culture, as for free market. And that is the most important thing. And my personal motivation to be in the politics, because it is foundation of our societies and it is real time to defend them. I would like to share our Polish experience in this aspect and to tell you a few words about our fight in the name of these values. From your perspective, it might look like it's much easier because of John Paul II, because of Polish Catholicism. But we have the same problems as you. Maybe not to some extent, but problems are not different.
Mr. Palko mentioned we were successful in the last years. Successful because first of all, we were able to defend endangered freedoms. Uh, but successful because we were able to reverse some dangerous processes.
It looked like 30 years ago in Poland that abortion is not questionable, that right to abortion is something so natural that we cannot change it. But then in the nineties and then in the next last years, it occurred. It has not be... It has not been like this. It is not a right of history. It depends on us, on our convictions, on our motivation and our organisation. And a few years ago, 2015, in Polish Parliament, in theory we had 300 deputies which were for enlarging protection on and for life in Poland. But in spite of it, it was impossible to change the law. So we had clear majority, but in spite of it, because of public opinion, because of mass media, because of political place, it was very difficult, quite difficult.
So we choose another way. And we questioned eugenic abortion before constitutional court. We were not the first. It was 25 years ago when for the first time Polish Constitutional Court recognized the right to life of everybody from conception to the end, and said that children before birth have the same, more or less the same, protection as born children and everybody. And we follow this path. And after five, three year struggle, we managed to convince constitutional court that it concerned unborn children, as well, even if they are ill or disabled. It was not obvious, but it we managed to do it. This example show that even in our times, in spite of dominant cultural currents, in spite of jurisdictions of European courts, it's possible to do things which would seem not to do. But we have to try. If we are not motivated, if we don't have this belief, we are not able to do nothing. Maybe we are able to defend sometimes.
But I think we should not only defend, we should be active. There are two conditions to be successful in this area. First of all, we have to work on three levels. Political elites, society and lawyers. Political elites. And you do it. So thank you again for this meeting. Uh, because sometimes even being majority, but creative majority and the political elites can do a lot. Society because we live in democracies and it's maybe the most difficult part of the job. But it's essential to convince people to give arguments.
And the third level is legal area, law faculties at the universities, higher courts in your countries and in Europe. So we should have as many as possible advocates and all of this milieus to be able to discuss, to be able to present legal arguments. And it is one of the conditions to defend and to present successfully our convictions in public life.
And the second condition is the sovereignty of member states in the European Union. It is important itself, but it is important. As for defending our convictions, it helps us to to defend traditionally understood dignity of human life. So that is another important factor.
At the end of my statement, I would like to say a few words about cooperation in Central Europe. It is maybe easier part because it seems to be very natural because of common heritage, but because of many political events from the last 30 years.
Visegrad Group last with its ups and downs since 1991. We had different governments, conservative, sometimes, sometimes communist, liberal and socialist governments. But this Visegrad Group last and its obvious instrument in Central Europe. Fortunately, in last years since particularly since 2015, this idea got broader context.
So now we can talk about Three Seas initiative with a gremium of 12 countries with Romania and Bulgaria with Baltic countries. One day maybe Serbia will be in this gremium, one day Ukraine might be in this gremium. I think it would be very important.
We say about Ukraine. So we have to say a few words about war. The Ukraine, about brutal war, which Russia started. Russian aggression. Russian danger is something which we challenge in 20th century. Not every of our countries to the same extent, but majority of us had to face Russia and now we can see the same situation at the Ukraine. So thank you very much for support for Ukraine from all your countries. It's really important. It's a sign of brotherhood which was which was mentioned by....
So the cooperation in Central Europe is vital, vital among the countries, among the societies, for us. It's particularly important cooperation of churches, cooperation of conservative organizations, cooperation among us, because there are so much which we have in common, even if realistically, sometimes it will be cooperation ad hoc. I believe that we are able and we should try to build broader and deeper cooperation. And if not, we conservatives who can do it.
Thank you very much.