Prague - In two speeches marking the 90th anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia on 28 October 1918, Václav Klaus repeatedly called for patriotism and warned against what he sees as a dissolution of the nation state in the EU.
In his first speech on Tuesday at a massive military parade, the first that Prague witnessed since 1985, the president remembered the bravery of Czechoslovak legionnaires who fought on the side of the Allies in World War I.
In the evening, speaking at the Vladislav Hall at Prague Castle, Klaus summarized the past nine decades of the Czechoslovak emancipation, stressing that the struggle is not yet over. The president reiterated his opinion that the Czech independence is now being undermined by the fact that Brussels is getting more an more say about "our" issues.
"Four years ago, we decided in a democratic majority vote to become a member of the European Union and to delegate to it a significant part of our sovereignty," said Klaus. He added that this is "again" moving the decision-making power away from the Czech Republic.
"We are finding ourselves in a situation we are rather familiar with: Convinced that we are doing what is best for our state, we are giving up its important features," said the president.
Yet, Klaus admitted that it is too early to assess the benefits and drawbacks of the country's membership in the EU.
At the end of his speech the president addressed current issues. He said that Czechs are unlikely to be significantly affected by the global financial crisis thanks to the fact that they are still far from adopting the euro.
"We are living in a country that is only indirectly affected by the dramatic shocks of the international financial markets. We are separated from [the shocks] by our own currency and hence an autonomous financial system. Our citizens' and firms' assets are just as safe as they were in the previous years. We should be reasonably optimistic," Klaus said.
The president concluded his speech by calling on the Czech politicians to abandon their "petty intrigues and personal assaults". Instead, he said, they should take a good care of their country and incite national pride in its children, "so the word 'homeland' is more to them than just an empty concept".