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Minister Lipavsky at the Hudson Institute
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Minister Lipavsky at the Hudson Institute – „Restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea is the only way to cure Russia from its sick imperialistic dreams“


Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský on the Indo-Pacific, Ukraine, and Transatlantic Ties

Dear Peter, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind introduction and thank you for inviting me here today.

The topics we are going to discuss today are the most important foreign and security policy issues of our times. The Russian aggression against Ukraine, and the rise of China and challenges or even threats that it poses to the world system are the two issues on everyone’s mind. The answers we find to deal with those challenges, as the transatlantic community will, to a large extent, determine what the world will look like in the 21st century.

Let me start with Ukraine as the most pressing task we face today. We must remain focused on Ukraine's military and defence needs, increase pressure on Russia through sanctions, and continue to conduct active multilateral diplomacy.

In a nutshell, we must do whatever it takes to support Ukraine and help it to win this war – for the sake of Ukraine and its brave people, but above all for the sake of our ability to continue our fight for a safer and stable world. Russia portrays this war as a conflict with the “West”, and whatever we might say, many countries will continue to see it this way. If Ukraine loses, our credibility will suffer greatly, among our friends just as much as among our enemies.

What does it mean: “Winning the war”? It means that we help Ukraine to restore its territorial integrity, including Crimea. This is crucial for two reasons.

First, it will demonstrate that in the 21st century, you do not change borders by force and that international law is not just empty talk. It serves as an important lesson for Russia but it would also be an important lesson for China.

Second, restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty over the peninsula is the only way to cure Russia from its – what I would quite openly call – sick imperialistic dreams. The return of Crimea to Ukraine will force Russians and the Kremlin to understand that they need to rethink their approach to Ukraine and that aggression does not pay off.  

Let me stress one more point that I consider particularly important not only for Ukraine but also for the future of Russia and that is the prosecution of war crimes. Accountability is necessary; it is a key element for building a post war future. We should pay special attention to the child abductions and abuse that is going on. A special tribunal for the Crime of Aggression is a part of that.

Russian aggression against Ukraine is the most imminent security threat – certainly to us in Central Europe. However, there is no doubt that the rise of China is the greatest systemic challenge to the current international order. China’s foreign policy is becoming increasingly aggressive. The Beijing regime does not even conceal its ambition to alter the international system anymore. China has been promoting its governance model to the Global South, it has stepped up its efforts to get key multilateral organizations under its influence, especially those setting the international standards. And – we should be honest about this- it has some success in doing so.

Russia has opted for brutal, barbaric tactics; China has so far been rather patient, but this is also changing. Intimidation has become a tool of choice for the Chinese diplomacy. We have experienced it first-hand following the high-level visits of our democratically elected representatives to Taiwan. Increasingly, we hear threats from Beijing that use of military force against Taiwan cannot be ruled out. China is already closely watching how the Russian war unfolds. It supports Russia politically and morally; and ruthlessly profits from this conflict economically and politically.

It is time to act. Now. History has shown us that appeasement never works. Tiptoeing around totalitarian regimes only encourages them. We have learned that the hard way with Russia, we should not repeat this mistake with China.

We must be clear that the consequences of any attack on Taiwanese democracy would be huge, both politically and economically.

The best way to do it is that we –the transatlantic community –act together. The Transatlantic and Indo-Pacific security are two sides of one coin. If there is no security in Europe, then security in the Indo-Pacific is weakened, and vice versa.

What can we do as Europeans? First and foremost, we must not allow China to weaken the transatlantic bond. We might have differences between ourselves, but we know that we are allies and that we share one goal – to safeguard our security and prosperity and the rules-based international order. We must be crystal clear in our messaging to China and in our approach to China. The future of the EU-China relationship depends on the Chinese position on the biggest threat to European and international security – the Russian aggression against Ukraine. We must increase the cooperation with democratic partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan. We must leave no doubt that we consider all threats against them to be threats against us all and that, as in the case of Ukraine, we will support them to the best of our abilities.

I believe Czechia’ policy is clear in this respect and I am glad some European leaders are as well. The recent speech by President von der Leyen proves that she is one of them and this is highly important. I can assure you that I will use every opportunity to cement those views on our side of the Atlantic.

Thank you for your attention and I am looking forward to our debate.

Thank you very much.

Minister Lipavsky at the Hudson Institute

Minister Lipavsky at the Hudson Institute

Minister Lipavsky at the Hudson Institute

Minister Lipavsky at the Hudson Institute