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Prague

Shared and Protected – Upholding European Values in Wartime

IED Event in Prague, Czech Republic

04.12.2023


Main organizer

Institute of European Democrats (IED)

Organizer for the Czech Republic

European Movement in the Czech Republic  in cooperation with the European Institute Renaissance and the Czech Centre of the International PEN

Auspices

Minister for EU Affairs Martin Dvořák and MP Jan Berki, member of the EU Affairs Committee


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Shared and Protected – Upholding European Values in Wartime
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The Institute of European Democrats along with the European Mouvement of the Czech Republic the PEN Club and the Starostové a nezávislí (STAN) party organized in the Czech Parliament a conference on two major issues facing the European Union : Values and Defense.

Experts from Czech Republic, Germany, France, Ukraine, Spain, Montenegro and more took part in it, and shared meaningful reflexions of the state of our union, in term of values with the rise of populism in Italy, Hungary or the Netherlands, and what is done to effectively protect the integrity and the peace that European Union has built for the past 70 years.

Jan Berki, MP, member of the EU Affairs Committee, Martin Dvořák, Minister for the EU Affairs, Francesco Rutelli, President of the Institute of European Democrats, (video message), Vladimír Špidla - former Commissioner and former Prime Minister, President of the European Mouvement in the Czech Republic, Pier Virgilio Dastoli, President of the European Mouvement Italy, Mikel Burzako, CEO of the Institute of European Democrats open the convention with their views.

The first round table themed « The European identity – values and interests »

Featured Viktor Daněk –  Deputy Director of EUROPEUM Institute for European PolicyAlena Gajdůšková former Vice-President of European Movement in the Czech Republic, former Vice-Chair of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic and Vice-Chair of its EU Affairs Committee. Ondřej Vaculík, Head of the Czech PEN Centre. Miodrag Vlahovič – ex Foreign Affairs Minister of Montenegro, Petr Fleischmann, Member of the Forum 2000 Board, former adviser to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security of the Senate of the Czech Republic. The plenary discussion was moderated by Alexandra Leuliette, Board Director of the Institute of European Democrats.

The second one « Strengthening NATO: What are the Inputs of EU Member States ? » Jana Šimková, Director of the European Renaissance, Jakub Landovský, envoy  of Czech Republic to NATO (online), Philippe Michel Kleisbauer – Member of MoDem National Committee and former member of the French National Assembly and of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Petr Jantač, expert on institutional law, Tomáš Chlebeček, expert on world security issues, a columnist in German periodicals, Dmytro Kaliuzhnyi, retired colonel, 36 years in the Ukrainian Army, refugee from Hostomel, Kijv, Ukraine. The plenary discussion was moderated by Pavel Trantina, Vice-President of the European Movement in Czechia.

Ivo Kaplan, Chair of the Board, Evropský Institut Renaissance before Gabi Schmidt, MdL, IED Vice-President delivered the closing remarks.

The first round table on values, meant to address and define the European Identity, the debate raise about the use of this very word.
Because Identity has been poorly used, by the extreme right mouvements from all over Europe like the ID party for exemple. Their use of identity, is an excluding factor. Identity is a shield behind which they try to legitimate xenophobia. The identity is used to identify who belongs and who doesn’t, to recognize its peers from the rest of the world. One have all the features to belong within, and nothing can change it.

On the other hand, the illuminist ideals at the core of the European project matters in this debate, as a value based sense of belonging. 

The Declaration of Human Rights from the French revolution can be used as an exemple. It brought down the monarchy, and the feudal system upon which it was based. The aristocracy was no longer the owner of the lands and entitled to dominate a society because of the family they were born in. All became citizens, equal before the law, as well as the abolition of slavery, and the equality for every human being. Everyone were citizens as long as you abide the law, as long as you made those values your own. Where you are from, or from which family you have been brought up didn’t matter anymore.

In central and eastern Europe, those values resonated as well, but the weight of history could explain the reason why identity does still matter. 
Ethnic, political and religious happenings are the essence of the building of an Identity, and disparities challenge the unity of the people.

So what are those components in Czech Republic ?

Ethnically, Slavs, Germans, Francs, Avars and many more populated the land.

Politically, Prague once was Capital of the holy Roman Empire, Charles IV made it the beauty it is today, then it was subjugated by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to become Czechoslovakia until becoming today’s Czech Republic.

Religiously, the cathedrals testify the importance of catholicism, but the reform led by Jan Hus carried strong weight in Czech religious history as well until the atheist communist led system, to the religious freedom enjoyed today.

Those evolutions defined the nation state as it is and the whole political dynamic of the region. Identity is the cornerstone of theses European nations building and sense of belonging. Today defining clearly this identity is essential to create a strong adhesion for the European construction.

Second round table, « Strengthening NATO: What are the Inputs of EU Member States ? »

Our expert members underline several challenges to guarantee the security of the continent. The major threat is indisputably Russia, with the invasion in Ukraine, the multiplication of cyber attacks, the start of an hybrid war which despicably uses refugees. The European Union has not yet manage to put a defense strategy on track, and rely on NATO and the USA for security. This reliability brings opportunity, as the dissuasion is indeed efficient, no NATO country faces any major security threat. On the other hand, European strategic autonomy and industrial capacity have been neglected despite France’s efforts to bring member states on board.

Except the French, no member state would gain immediate industrial benefits from this autonomy, no other European NATO members would disengage in the Atlantic Organization, the security benefits are just too important. Only a radical change in US leadership after the 2024 elections could force a repositioning. Strategical Autonomy would mean several years of insecurity while building up European capacity. Many practical issues are to be solved like inter operability, chain of commands, industrial strategy or mutualisation of the nuclear deterrence.

Several of the engagement taken by European countries to deliver shells to Ukraine for exemple were not honored, proof that the continent is not yet prepared to assume on its own the full support of a military intervention or resistance. Only a strong and wide political will for a European defense could change the situation. Realistically NATO will be part of the European defense architecture for the many years to come.

As Europe faces challenging geopolitical outcomes, war, rise of populism and more, a united commitment to shared values and a strategic approach to defense will be essential among member states to uphold the principles that have driven the creation and deepening of the European Union. That was the sense of IED’s work in Prague with its partners.


Programme

9.15 - 10.00

Introductory speeches

  • Jan Berki, MP, member of the EU Affairs Committee 

  • Martin Dvořák, Minister for the EU Affairs (video message)

  • Francesco Rutelli, President of the Institute of European Democrats (video message), 

  • Vladimír Špidla - former Commissioner and former Prime Minister, President of the European Movement in the Czech Republic  

  • Pier Virgilio Dastoli, President of the European Movement Italy, former assistant to Altiero Spinelli, former Secretary-General of the European Movement International, professor of La Sapienza University in Rome (online) 

  • Mikel Burzako, CEO of the Institute of European Democrats


10.00 - 12.15

Session 1: The European identity – values and interests

  • Viktor Daněk –  Deputy Director of EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy

  • Alena Gajdůšková former Vice-President of European Movement in the Czech Republic, former Vice-Chair of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic and Vice-Chair of its EU Affairs Committee 

  • Ondřej Vaculík, Head of the Czech PEN Centre Miodrag Vlahovič – ex Foreign Affairs Minister of Montenegro

  • Petr Fleischmann, Member of the Forum 2000 Board, former adviser to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security of the Senate of the Czech Republic

The plenary discussion was moderated by Alexandra Leuliette, Board Director of the Institute of European Democrats.


13.45 - 15.15

Session 2: Strengthening NATO: What are the Inputs of EU Member States ?

  • Jana Šimková, Director of the European Renaissance

  • Jakub Landovský, envoy  of Czech Republic to NATO (online)

  • Philippe Michel Kleisbauer – Member of MoDem National Committee and former member of the French National Assembly and of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly

  • Petr Jantač, expert on institutional law

  • Tomáš Chlebeček, expert on world security issues, a columnist in German periodicals

  • Dmytro Kaliuzhnyi, retired colonel, 36 years in the Ukrainian Army, refugee from Hostomel, Kijv, Ukraine

The plenary discussion was moderated by Pavel Trantina, Vice-President of the European Movement in Czechia


15.15 - 16.15

Conclusions

  • Mr Ivo Kaplan, Chair of the Board, Evropský Institut Renaissance made summary remarks of the whole day’s discussions

  • Gabi Schmidt, MdL, IED Vice-President delivered the closing remarks


More information

Event report by Ivo Kaplan


Events overview

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