Presentation of the 2006 Gratias Agit Prize 4 May 2006 Remarks by Cyril Svoboda, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
Ladies and Gentlemen, The name "Czech Republic" is neutral in itself. It refers to a country of certain geographical location, size, population, a certain landscape and climate. The information that its capital is called Prague, that it has 10,300,000 inhabitants and an area of 78,864 square kilometres is interesting, but neutral in terms of values. It is certainly necessary for general geographical knowledge, but otherwise it tells us nothing. In this respect, Germany remained Germany even under the Nazis, just as Czechoslovakia remained the same even under the communist totalitarian rule.
Such names need not be spread. Or more precisely, the spreading of such names need not be rewarded with prizes. After all, information of this type is available on the Internet.
But how different is the quality of our country´s name when it bears witness to our history, the story of each of us. The full picture, the name of our country, is not formed by statistical data, but by people´s lives, their testimonies and work. Numerical or technical data are no longer the criterion for a country´s full name. The name is made by us. It is virtues and values what becomes the criterion for the quality of our name. Virtues and values persist and give life to our name. And again this proves that people with ideals make history human and future-oriented, while pragmatists merely keep life going. By considering how close to, or how far from the fulfilment of universal values we are getting, what we are like and what we are doing, we find whether we have formed or deformed our country´s good name.
We are a country whose good name has been formed by people so prominent as Prince Wenceslas, the holy Premyslid Princess Agnes, Emperor Charles IV, Jan Hus, Jan Ámos Komenský, Tomáš Masaryk, Václav Černý, Milada Horáková, Věra Čáslavská or Václav Havel. And there are many more personalities, honest, hardworking, brave and self-sacrificing people. But we are also a country of those who have deformed our good name, people as Emanuel Moravec, Klement Gottwald, Antonín Zápotocký, Milouš Jakeš or Viktor Kožený. And scores and scores of cowardly, pliable, opportunistic, and of course indifferent people. People who enable the deformers of our good name to exert their influence.
And everybody is invoking the best traditions of our country. Even those who do not have the slightest right to do so. The order awarded under the wartime Protektorat government was the St. Wenceslas Eagle and, for example, the communists invoked the Hussite traditions. They naively believed that this would give them at least a semblance of legitimity. It was no use, and actually it could not.
On the contrary, the right to invoke our traditions belongs to those who fulfil them. Such people merit respect. Those who keep building our good name. Those who keep spreading our good name. And especially those who keep building ad spreading it at the same time. Only thanks to them, the name of our country abroad has its contents, colour, spirit, to cut it short, a value. And it is you, ladies and gentlemen. It is you who represent the good name abroad and, as you can see, you are not, and you need not be of the same nationality or citizenship. Your need not speak the same language. You are personalities living in the Czech Republic as well abroad, you represent all kinds of human activities. What links you is the building and spreading of the good name of our country abroad. Today´s awards cannot fully express my appreciation and gratitude for all you have done. I wish to appreciate in particular the work done by such a prominent personality as was Mrs. Jaroslava Moserová-Davidová, to whom I award the prize in memoriam. I hope that the Gratias Agit prizes will be an encouragement and a challenge not only for you, but also for the rest of us, to continue spreading the good name of the Czech Republic abroad.
Thank you for your attention.
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