The Inaugural Address of the President of the Czech Republic
Dear constitutional representatives, dear predecessors in the presidential office, dear guests, dear citizens,
it has been six months since I addressed you at Písecká brána to place your faith in me in the upcoming elections. I launched my run for the presidential office thanks to the trust and support of all those around me. At the beginning we comprised of only a small team. Gradually, our team expanded with a growing number of supporters in all regions in the Czech Republic as well as abroad until I stood face to face, this January, in front of full Czech and Moravian squares.
You entered the polling rooms to say enough to chaos and to have the will to open a way forward to finding solutions together. It was you who have made it possible for us to contribute to the return of value-based politics.
The truth has won again thanks to you!
Following the elections, the work of the election team has ceased. However, a more intricate and lengthy duty awaits the new team. And that team is all of us.
It comprises people who gave me their vote, but also those who did not vote for me, or did not come to the polls at all. Together we face the same issues and we can only successfully tackle them in unity.
I promised to bring back dignity, respect, decency and other values to the office that have been declining in relevance in recent years. It is as if we had resigned on them due to the fact that the main aspect of judging the worth of our deeds and personalities had become success, regardless of what price had been paid and on whose expense it had been reached. Sadly, also the highest state representatives have often put emphasis on it.
Thus populists who rest their own success and influence on lies, manipulation and the abuse of fear have been given their opportunity. My team and I have never played this game. I appreciate that the record-high turnout in the elections proved that you also value truth and decency over malevolent attacks and the distortion of reality.
When politicians enter their offices, they often speak about a hundred-day-long protection period in order to avoid occasional criticism for a lukewarm start. This is not in my nature. I would far rather be criticised for a too active start. Therefore, I will soon publish a plan of the specific goals for my first 100 days in office. You may then judge me on the basis of my outcomes and not just words.
Just as strong as my mandate of having been elected in a direct vote, is the gravity of your expectations and the responsibility for their fulfilment. The role of the president is the hardest exactly at that point where the scope of his powers reaches its limits. It is fair to say at the beginning that for that very reason I alone cannot solve many of the problems. Nevertheless, I will actively search for ways to resolve them in collaboration with those who can contribute to such solutions. I am ready to explain and communicate all steps that I will take.
I have emphasised that I will mainly work outside the castle. I will continue visiting regions to personally see and learn what troubles you the most, to give credence to those who sometimes justly feel they are not being heard. And I will try to find a solution in cooperation with experts, the government and the parliament.
I will take steps to make Prague Castle more open to the public, cultural, festive and educational events and I will return to clear, transparent and regular communication.
In all earnestness I understand the current concerns about economic and social insecurity. If we want to enjoy long-term prosperity, it is essential for the economy to regain sound foundations and balance by curbing inflation and by a radical reduction of the government deficit. I will consult experts and support measures enabling this although they will be painful at times.
Solidarity is a sign of a developed country, and I consider the Czech Republic to be one. By this I mean external and internal solidarity. We have to be determined and capable of offering a helping hand to those who cannot help themselves. Whilst remedying systemic problems, such as the unsustainable nature of the present tax system or pension scheme that we objectively cannot do without, it will be essential not to adopt a flat rate, but to single out those most vulnerable.
To reach long-term prosperity we need to support innovations and investments into new technologies and, as a result, make progress towards a modern economy with a high-added value that will bring about higher wages and living standards. However, for quite some time we have lacked a vision of how to facilitate these good intentions with specific steps. And economics is not the only concern.
In the last months you have created a wave of hope and energy. I would like us to use it to create a joint vision for the Czech Republic. I would very much like to launch this process during my presidency.
Our reaction to the crisis of the last years as well as the presidential elections themselves have convinced me that we can come together to follow one goal despite seeing various ways of reaching it. We only need that sparkle of determination that it does make sense.
It is not true that our society is too divided to pursue the goal. We have only become more used to speaking about what divides it. We hit sharp edges and highlight problems, which drives a wedge between us. It would be far better if we were to speak more about what unites us.
We all care for the same country, we speak the same language. We long for safety, we appreciate freedom and democracy. This applies from Krásná to Bukovec, from Lobendava up to Vyšší Brod. We are all citizens of this beautiful country.
There are many people in each of our regions who hold a clear vision of how to move our country forward. However, something hampers them - prejudice, lack of courage or incessant bureaucracy. Some claim that we are too small for the world to hear our voice. Or too weak to change the opinion of our stronger partners. This feeling may well result from the fact that history has not always been merciful to us.
I wish for us to be able to step out of this shadow. Let’s not make easy things complicated, let’s not create obstacles, let’s not lose time searching for ideality so we do not end up doing nothing. We have proved so many times what we can do. A recent example is the successful presidency to the Council of the European Union. Let’s be active and apply it to other areas too, for example within NATO or the UN.
Let’s not wait for the larger states to bring in their solutions. Where does it say that those largest are also always cleverer and more apt?
I will hold it a success if my presidency sees the number of people rise who will not be deterred by insecurity. Whenever we believe in something, we have to reach out of our comfort zone and follow the goal, even if there is only a small chance of success. Once a man feels in his heart that something is right, or when his reason advises him so, his plan might come up against an obstacle once or twice, but eventually it will succeed.
We are a medium-sized country with a unique location in the middle of Europe due to which we often have a more sober view of the world than the countries with power ambitions. Therefore, we can become the significant player to weld partners of similar area and reasoning. There is a majority of such countries in Europe. Let’s learn to develop the position.
We do not have to reach far for inspiration. Ukraine showed our partners and us that unyielding determination is more than the superiority and power of an aggressor. It is the single Central European voice that will be important, were we to help Ukraine to the victory. And our historical experience should not be the sole reason for the maintaining of our support. In doing so we help ourselves, too.
I would like Czechia to be perceived as an active and reliable partner with an opinion, as someone who can change things for the better. As President of the Czech Republic, I will do everything in my power to bring the reputation of our country to a new level. And also to change the way we perceive ourselves.
It is the people who stand up and venture to try again and again who make the difference. Let’s change our attitude to ourselves as well as to others. Let’s look around at successful individuals and draw inspiration from their good examples. Let’s support our employees in enterprises as well as in public administration. Let’s provide them with an opportunity to be creative, to develop, to implement projects and bear the responsibility for them, even under the risk of occasional failure. Such experience may move us forward step by step.
This goal is far from being solely mine. We are one team and we have to start together.
As President I will facilitate this way of thinking. I will gladly bring to the fore anyone who has the courage to make such a step forward. I will hold under my auspices projects that will pose an example of good practice to show us as well as the whole world that we are a nation of its own opinion supported with sound arguments that it can uphold. We should stay humble, which does not mean we cannot have courage, ideas and vision. This is a mark I should like to see at home and I would like it to be visible in the world as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests, thank you for your attention and I wish you all the best
Petr Pavel, the President of the Czech Republic, the Vladislav Hall, Prague Castle, 9th of March 2023