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Speech by the Minister Jan Lipavský at the meeting with heads of Diplomatic Missions and offices of international organizations accredited to the Czech Republic
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Speech by the Minister Jan Lipavský at the meeting with heads of Diplomatic Missions and offices of international organizations accredited to the Czech Republic


Prague, January 18, 2024

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

• A very warm welcome to the CzerninPalace. It is my great pleasure to see you allhere. 

• Traditionally, on this occasion, we look back,review what we achieved in the year that just ended. At the same time, we look ahead, we share our plans and put forward our ideas for a hopefully a better future. 

• Todaywe are meeting under truly grim circumstances. Next month, we will mark two years since Ukraine was brutally invadedby Russia. The whole of Europe – and ultimately the entire international community– is feeling its effects. “Hope springs eternal”, yet there seems to be no ending to this aggression in sight. On the contrary, we see that Putin and his regime aim far beyond the control of Ukraine and show no willingness to leave their destructive path.

• 2024 will be a year of anniversaries linked to our recent history. It will be 35 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, which ended the division of the continent into a free western part and an unfree part forced to live under the yoke of Soviet communism. My country will commemorate the 25th anniversary of joining the NATO. Finally, it will be 20 years since the continent decided to end remaining signs of the past divisions with opening the doors of the EU to most of the states in the central and eastern part of the continent.

• We are proud that to mark those anniversaries and to strengthen our feeling of co-ownership and responsibility Prague will host in May an informal NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting

• Today, NATO and EU membership are of critical importance to Czechia, its security and prosperity. NATO and EU eastern borders are the lines where starts a grey zone of insecurity.This very fact reminds us that the task of bringing Europe together has not been yet finished. Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans remain in the grey areas as tempting snacks for the Russian dictator’s appetite tostrengthen his regime by external aggression. 

• That is why we keep advocating for NATO and EU open-door policies and offering our political support and practical advice to the prospective candidates.

Ladies and gentlemen

• We must not let Ukraine down. Those who suggest a deal with Russia at the expense of Ukraine are wrong. It would encourage Putin's regime to advance as its goals reach far beyond Ukraine. Putin’s tanks will not stop on Ukraine’s western border. If Ukraine is defeated, the UN Charter, the rules-based order are defeated. The logic that “might is right” would prevail with dire consequences for the international community. No country may be genuinely neutral to this conflict.

• Russia’s aggression is not the only critical point on the world map. The escalation in the Middle East is a source of our major concern.  

• Czechia clearly condemned terrorist attacks on Israel of October 7. Such brutal acts of violence are despicable. Each country has the right to defend itself and to protect its citizens against terrorist attacks anywhere in the world. 

• It is crucial to avoid any possibility of spillover of the ongoing conflict further in the region or beyond. Deliberate escalation of attacks against maritime traffic in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels increase the risk of such a spillover. We fully support our allies and partners in the necessary deterrent actions against them. 

• We acknowledge the suffering of the civilian population of Gaza who are yet another victim of the Hamas terrorists. It is important that operations of the Israeli army are in full respect of the International humanitarian law. We convey that message to our Israeli partners. Further, Czech government has decided to help alleviate the hardship of both Palestinian civilians in Gaza and Israeli communities attacked by Hamas by donating 5 million Czech crowns in humanitarian assistance to each of them. 

• For years, we have been observing multilateral system getting weaker. Czechia is ready to be part of a solution. We want to work together on a more effective and inclusive multilateral system that is able to address the challenges we face. We have just concluded our Presidency of the Human Rights Council. We have started our tenure in a number of UN bodies. We have presented the candidacy for non-permanent membership of the Security Council for the term 2032–33.

• My country, me personally, we are dedicated to this dialogue. Last year, I visited many of your countries and met many of my counterparts on the margins of the multilateral fora. Next month I will return to Asia, starting my tour in India at RaisinaDialogue Forum, continuing in Japan and Australia. I hope to carry out visits to Brazil and Argentina in April. Of course, many other visits are in the pipeline.

• The main message is that we want to work together on a more effective and inclusive multilateral system that can address the challenges we face.

• To these debates Czechia brings two topics I want to briefly mention as they are very close to my heart. 

• Firstly, our human rights-based foreign policy. We firmly believe that protecting human rights contributes to international security and limits emergence of security threats such as terrorism or illegal migration. It has a positive impact on the growth of prosperity. On the contrary, as it is the case of Putin’s Russia, states that violate human rights of their citizens will not adhere to the rules in international relations. In the final analysis, they pose a major threat to peaceful relations of other states and the international community as a whole. 

• Secondly, the challenges posed by the Artificial Intelligence and new technologies in general. 

• If we want to benefit from their development –and I am convinced that this is our shared interest – we need to deal with the risks. It is necessary to approach the new technologies responsibly. To set rules that will help minimize unintended harm or potential misuse.

• In the light of the future new technologies and AI generated content, we need to define the right of people not to be manipulated. This is an urgent task! We need to seek effective ways to protect that right in online space. 

• That is why Czechia joined forces with the Maldives, Mexico, the Netherlands, North Macedonia and South Africa to promote in the UN General Assembly the Resolution on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Digital Technologies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

• Let me conclude by thanking you all for being here today. Czechia prides itself on maintaining close and most friendly ties with countries all over the world – and you deserve a special credit as representatives of those countries. 

• highly appreciate the work you do here in PragueI truly cherish our friendship and partnership and I am looking forward to our further cooperation

• Thank you very much.