Warsaw/Prague - “The arrival of the Soviet mentality in a new form, which I witnessed in Crimea, scared me. I was very worried by all this. It has affected me more than anything else in my life,” said Josef Pazderka, a long-term Eastern European correspondent for state-run Czech Television, in an interview with Aktualne.cz.
“I am traumatized the most by my experiences from Crimea. Not because we were in immediate danger. I realized how much people can be influenced by fanatical propaganda... It worked along the lines of the old Soviet model: either you agree with us and are our friend, or, as they say, you are a vrag (enemy),” said Pazderka, who has been posted in Ukraine and Russia, and currently is in Poland.
“I was working in an atmosphere when Ukrainian journalists who arrived in Crimea to observe the referendum started to disappear, or some groups of thugs forced their way into the apartments of people who were eventually taken to unknown locations. And I was not able to help these people – this was what frustrated me the most.”
“Some Czech politicians are very well informed about Ukraine, for example Czech EU Commissioner Stefan Fule, and there are also those who only follow some propaganda. They often comment on things they do not understand.”
“Sometimes I think that we Czechs have forgotten that democracy has a price and is not for free. In this respect, Poles have progressed much more than Czechs. They watch Russia and the eastern world much more closely and attentively... Poles have always considered themselves the European Union's 'night guard' towards the East. They are aware of their position and vulnerability, more than Czechs are. And this is connected to relatively big investments into the military, and how they relate to armed forces and their own security.”
“I only hope that this alarming and urgent Ukrainian 'wake up call' will shake Europe, will make it realize that security is not for free. That it is not possible to have the cheapest things, the cheapest gas and energy, and at the same time not to lose one's own security.”
“The occupation of Crimea will hopefully remind us that the armed forces have their importance, that we cannot just cut their expenses all the time. It is no longer a secret that NATO is starting to consider the Czech Republic a 'fare dodger' who does not invest into its own and thus common security.”
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