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Jakub Kulhánek
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Remarks by Minister Kulhánek to the Diplomatic Corps

 

June 17, 2021

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am happy for this moment as I can after a long, long time meet in person such an illustrious group of people, many of which I consider my friends. Indeed, what a welcome change compared to          computer screens we have been glued to for far too long!  So please welcome to the gardens of the Czernin Palace!

This past year has certainly been one of the most difficult years for our countries, including the Czech Republic. However, I see hope. I see hope in the progress of vaccination, I see hope in the easing of restrictions, and I see hope in the gradual return to the “new normal”. A massive vaccination rollout has been one of the key priorities for the Czech government.

We have succeeded in inoculating the most vulnerable segments of our population. In addition, we have offered vaccines to all members of the diplomatic corps in the Czech Republic. At the moment, any citizen who wishes to receive the vaccine can register immediately and get vaccinated.

Any citizen who wishes to get tested can do so free of charge during the summer. Moreover, we support the global distribution of vaccines to the most vulnerable parts of the world's population. Last December, the Czech Republic donated four hundred thousand EUR to UNICEF to support the distribution of vaccines. The EU is the largest producer and exporter of vaccines. The Czech Republic will continue to support the EU in its efforts to meet global vaccine demands through COVAX and Team Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are also working on easing restrictions in preparation for the summer holiday season. We have been negotiating intensively with the most popular summer holiday destinations to arrange for the best possible travel conditions for our citizens.

And I would like to express my gratitude to those countries.   Moreover, we are grateful that the EU “Digital Covid Certificat” should become reality on July 1st, opening even more possibilities for free but safe travel.  Across the world, we witness signs of return to the “new normal”. Look no further than the ongoing European Football Championship.

Events such as the European Championship give us a much-needed sense of normality after a long and stressful period. They give us hope that the pandemic is fading. I am hoping that the Czech players will do well in their upcoming matches against Croatia and England. But we must remain vigilant and ensure that the bulk of the world’s population is protected from the virus as soon as possible.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me turn to the main task for the Czech foreign policy at hand – the upcoming Czech Presidency to the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2022. This Presidency gives us a unique chance to help shape the EU agenda at a time of post-pandemic recovery. We will be prepared to meet this challenge.

We have already submitted, with our Trio partners – France and Sweden –our contributions to the joint Trio Presidency Programme. The General Secretariat of the Council will release the final Trio programme at the end of this year.

But already I can reveal as much that there is a strong consensus in the Trio that what we want, and what we want to make our utmost strategic objective, is to pursue a strong, resilient and sustainable EU. I wish that all the countries, worldwide, help us work towards this goal. It is after all what the EU calls a win-win scenario.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me conclude by thanking you for coming here today. The Czech Republic prides itself for maintaining close ties with many countries all over the world – and you deserve special credit as representatives from those countries.

I deeply appreciate your service here in Prague.  I hope that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and I am looking forward to further cooperation with all of you.

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