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Speech by the Minister Jan Lipavský at the Prague European Summit
Photo: © MZV ČR / MFA CZ
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Speech by the Minister Jan Lipavský at the Prague European Summit


Prague, 16 June 2024

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

This conference offers us several opportunities. We can look back on the past five years of the first Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen. We can debate the challenges the EU and its Member states are facing and will face in the coming years as our geopolitical environment drastically changes. Finally, we should try to come up with ideas how to adjust our policies and our governance structures for the tasks that are ahead of us. 

Back in 2019 Ursula von der Leyen described her team as a Geopolitical Commission.  The outgoing Commission has become, without a doubt, exactly this.

However, let’s focus on the future. We are entering the new Institutional cycle under very different circumstances. Today’s tasks before the Union and its Member states are much more complex than five years ago. The international order, as we have known it, is collapsing and we need to react.

The EU faces the challenge of building its position as a global player, both geopolitically and economically. Strengthening the EU’s competitiveness and ensuring security are key elements of the EU Strategic Agenda for the next five years. And rightly so. Security and prosperity are what our citizens expect from us.  

One issue will be crucial for Europe’s future. That one issue is how we deal with Russia's brutal aggression against Ukraine and its increasingly aggressive posture against the West. There is a reason why this conference started with a panel dedicated to Ukraine support and continues with a panel dedicated to the new European strategy towards Russia.

Support for Ukraine and its victory against Russia is an imperative for all of us. A Russian victory would mean a less secure and more volatile Europe. It is also a key part of a much larger struggle to preserve the world order governed by the UN Charter and international law. Our security and prosperity depend on whether we succeed in this struggle. That needs to be our answer to those who advocate appeasement towards Russia.

We all know the political calendar. In the past, following the EU elections, the EU would spend months focused on its internal political debates, building consensus, and putting together the new Commission. Even more so given the results of the elections that provided no clear-cut majority.  

The EU’s ambition must be to be a global player. Global player must be able to ensure its security and project it. Therefore, we have to act quickly on developing our defence industry that has been neglected for decades.

In the spirit of open strategic autonomy, we need to work harder on opening up to the outside world, creating mutually beneficial economic and trade partnerships. This would among other things, strengthen the resilience of our supply chains. On the other hand, the EU cannot be the lamb among wolves. We need to learn how to defend ourselves from unfair practices and strike the right balance between the two goals.

Finally, let’s keep the momentum for enlargement to include the Western Balkan countries and the Associated Trio. We are glad it is among the priorities of the Hungarian presidency, as it can make a significant contribution to the security, stability and prosperity of the EU as a whole.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

We all want the EU to remain a successful global player respected by other powers, namely China or the US. To succeed we need an authority and an effective strategy.

To have an authority in the global arena, we must first and foremost ensure security, stability, and prosperity on our own continent. This means pacifying Russia and dismantling its imperialistic intentions. It is also about our defence and security capabilities, the quality of our economies, and technological advancements. In dealing with our adversaries, we need apply creative stratcom and closely coordinate with allies and like-minded partners.

Our natural authority stems from democratic values, human rights and respect for each individual. Our traditional alliances with other liberal democracies, in first place with the United States, reinforce our natural authority globally. We need to look after these alliances.

Thank you for your attention.