I have to start by mentioning that this day, the 21st August, is a very sad and distressing day for my country. Forty-seven years ago, the Warsaw Pact armies – led by the Soviet Union – invaded Czechoslovakia with the objective to crush the very promising development there, called – somewhat imprecisely – Prague Spring. Due to it, we had to wait for the coming of freedom for another two decades, till November 1989.
Many thanks for the invitation. I haven’t been to Crans-Montana for almost a decade. To be fair, I don’t want to pretend that I haven’t been invited. However, my presidential duties blocked my trips abroad in those years. Being here again, I must say that this place and its surroundings are even more beautiful than I remembered.
Let me take my rather long absence here as an advantage, as a point of departure for taking a longer term view. When I look at the current world with this perspective, my conclusion is that in spite of the fact that many things have changed since my last visit here, many other things have remained the same, just their negative aspects came to the fore. Let me differentiate these two groups of events.
I was here last time
- before the 2008-2009 Euro-American financial and economic crisis which – to my great regret – keeps to be erroneously interpreted as a market failure whereas it was a huge and inexcusable government failure;