By Vaclav Klaus (speech)

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Additional info for Celebrating Freedom: His Excellency Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic, Speaks to Canadians and Americans in November 2004

Example text

From the structural, systemic point of view, the Czech Republic is—in political, economic, and social dimensions—already a standard European country. Many reforms are, of course, necessary—in the pension system, in the health care system, in public finance—but such reforms are very similar to the changes you make (or do not make) in Canada today—without the Communist heritage. KM: As prime minister of the Czech Republic, you helped the former Czechoslovakia divide peacefully into two nations. You must be very proud that the division went so smoothly and without bloodshed (though of course there was to some extent a precedent for such civilized behaviour 31 Celebrating Freedom with the 1989 Velvet Revolution).

VK: You mentioned my “non-serious” sports. I played basketball for 10 years in the Czechoslovak Basketball League and even played matches in several European countries. Volleyball, tennis, and skiing represent my post-basketball activities. —as well as with several world-famous players—Borg, Orantes, Gotfried, Gomez. I played tennis with the Austrian chancellor, with the Romanian and Finnish prime ministers, with the US Secretary of the Treasury, with Chairman Greenspan, etc. The best player was Larry Summers [Chief Economist at the World Bank, 1991-1993 and Under Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury since 1993].

One must be with the common people, not with the elites. The elites do not want freedom for everyone and competitive markets, they want freedom and exceptional positions for themselves, and a non-market evaluation of their achievements. On the Czech road from serfdom to freedom they were more dangerous enemies than the defeated Communists and their fellow travelers. KM: I understand you enjoy many sports—volleyball, tennis, and skiing, particularly. Have you played tennis or any other sports with other world leaders?

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