In his first ever New Year’s address to the nation, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told Czechs they had reason to celebrate since they were currently experiencing one of the happiest and most successful periods in the country’s modern history and had no reason to fear the future. He said his long-term investment plan had the potential to turn the Czech Republic into a country like Switzerland.
In a New Year’s address, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said that the Czech
Republic was currently going through one of the most successful and happy
periods in its modern history and was performing confidently in
international relations. Mr. Babiš told TV viewers on Wednesday evening
that his government would continue its policy of mainly investing in
people, adding that it would raise both pensions and salaries in 2020.
The PM said a new construction bill would likely be the most important piece of legislation in the lower house this year, while digitialisation and cybersecurity would also be major issues for his cabinet.
In his traditional Christmas message to the nation, President Miloš Zeman began as usual on a positive note – highlighting the country’s economic successes – before turning to what he views as problematic areas. In a 16-minute televised address otherwise void of religious symbolism, Zeman also branded himself a “climate heretic” and urged Czechs to think for themselves rather than follow “false prophets”.
In his traditional Christmas message to the nation, President Miloš Zeman
praised the country’s economic successes, citing its stable economic
growth, low unemployment, relatively low state debt, growth in salaries and
old age pensions. He criticized the country’s slow courts, lengthy
administrative procedures and the slow pace of infrastructure construction.
The president took a highly sceptical stand with regard to the ongoing debate on climate change, which he said had taken on the form of a new religion. Zeman said temperatures on Planet Earth had fluctuated for millions of years and he was not convinced that this was due to human activity rather than the forces of Nature. He advised a cautious and rational approach, warning that given the measures discussed, Europe could become an environmental skansen with a low living standard.
Commenting on the anti-government demonstrations that have taken place in recent months, the president pointed out that governments “came and went” as a result of free and democratic elections, where the prime minister’s opponents could voice their stand.
President Miloš Zeman will make his traditional Christmas address to the nation on Thursday, December 26th at 1pm CET, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček confirmed on Twitter on Monday. The presidential address, which is a an assessment of the past year and a look into the future, will be broadcast live by the country’s public broadcasters as well as the commercial TV stations NOVA and Barrandov.
Exactly a year after the Prague Spring was crushed by a Warsaw Pact invasion, many thousands of Czechoslovaks went into the streets once more to protest their country’s occupation. The subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators, this time by their own countrymen, resulted in hundreds of arrests and even five deaths. It crushed the last vestiges of hope and persuaded the public that “normalisation” was here to stay.
Not since 2013 has a seated Czech president addressed the nation on New Year’s Day: the current head of state, Miloš Zeman, has taken to delivering an address on the day after Christmas. This year, for the first time, the heads of both houses of parliament have taken up the mantle, calling for greater civility in 2019.
The arrival of the new year following the end of celebrations is a period of hope but also apprehension over possible worsening conditions and the unexpected. A poll commissioned by Czech Radio conducted by the Median Agency suggests that while a minority of Czechs are cautiously optimistic, many worry about having enough money, about migration and about the possibility of a terrorist attack.
In his Christmas message to the nation, President Miloš Zeman highlighted the country’s economic successes, telling Czechs they had much to be proud of. As regards the country’s political future, Miloš Zeman ruled out early elections, telling politicians they would have to play the cards they had been dealt in the elections.
Professor Igor Lukeš teaches at Boston University and has written extensively on modern Czech history, the Cold War and contemporary developments in Central and Eastern Europe. When we spoke recently the conversation took in everything from his increasingly sympathetic view of Neville Chamberlain to his own arrival in New York in the late 1970s. But I first asked the renowned historian about his early life in communist Czechoslovakia.