President Pavel Focuses On Ukraine and Taiwan In Speech To UN General Assembly
The president’s speech discussed internationalism and human rights. Credit: Zuzana Bönisch / hrad.cz.
New York, Sept 20 (CTK special correspondent ) – Czech President Petr Pavel addressed the UN General Assembly in New York this morning, in the first such speech from a Czech president since 2017. The president’s speech discussed internationalism and human rights, with a particular focus, as expected, on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Pavel stressed that Ukraine deserves a peace reached on the terms set by Kyiv, which must not be based on an unjust compromise and whose form cannot be dictated by Russia, as the aggressor in the conflict. He also noted that the consequences of the Russian invasion were being felt throughout the world, in view of the threat to food security caused by the Russian blockade of Ukrainian ports.
“The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine continues to constitute a manifest violation of the UN Charter and international law we all subscribed to,” Pavel said in the opening of his address. “Russia must unconditionally withdraw all troops from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Russia’s leaders must be held accountable for the crime of aggression against its neighbour,” he added.
“What Ukrainian people truly deserve is peace… If it is to be sustainable, it cannot be based on an unjust compromise or conditions imposed by the conqueror. Neither shall it leave hopes for Russia to fulfil its imperial ambitions. It must be peace on the terms of the defender. Not the aggressor and not anybody else,” Pavel said.
Pavel compared the conflict to the Czech Republic’s historical experience with Moscow’s military aggression, during the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet army in 1968.
“Czechia will support Ukraine in its just defense as long as necessary,” he stressed, during a speech delivered in English.
Pavel also noted that the Czech Republic had been helping Kyiv since the beginning of the war, providing arms, ammunition and humanitarian aid and taking in high numbers of Ukrainian refugees.
“The threats we face are global and interconnected. Because of Russia and a handful of other countries, our world is more dangerous and rougher. Instead of cultivating cooperative security, we have to build up our militaries,” he said.
Elsewhere in the speech, Pavel also condemned China’s military activities in the Taiwan Strait.
“We deplore China’s military actions which raise tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and its unfriendly actions against partners in the South China Sea,” he said. “Any dispute or contagious issue must be resolved peacefully. Any potential armed conflict in the region would have negative consequences for the whole world.”
“I appreciate that the president has emphasised in his speech that the world cannot turn a blind eye to the Russian aggression, that security in Ukraine is reflected in security in Africa, Latin America and the Pacific,” said Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates), who is in New York with Pavel. “I am glad that Czech foreign policy is once again speaking with a united voice.”
Commenting on the speech, Petr Kaniok, a professor of political science at the Masaryk University Faculty of Social Sciences and the SYRI Institute, also highlighted the importance of a unified message between the president and the government.
“The speech is completely in line with the government’s foreign policy, the Czech Republic thus speaks with one voice and acts consistently,” he said. “This is certainly a good thing, because a small country the size of the Czech Republic cannot, if it wants to be taken even a little bit seriously, sound cacophonous. This was also not the norm in the past, especially when the former president Zeman forged his own policy and was difficult to predict.”
Kaniok also described the speech as “an unequivocal confirmation of a return to the traditions of Havel’s foreign policy, which was determined by clear values and an emphasis on human rights,” departing from the “economic realism” of Zeman and former Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek.
Pavel’s 15-minute speech before the UN General Assembly was the first given by the Czech president since 2017, when his predecessor Milos Zeman addressed this forum. In the following years, either the prime minister or foreign ministers represented the Czech Republic at the UN General Assembly.