Czech President Miloš Zeman was among the more than 70 heads of state or government to address the opening of annual General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly, which convened on September 19 and runs for one week.
The so-called General Debate is an annual opportunity for world leaders to gather at UN Headquarters in New York to discuss global issues. In attendance were the likes of US president Donald Trump, French president Emmanuel Macron, and South African president Jacob Zuma.
Looking somewhat frail as he approached the podium to deliver his roughly 10-minute address, Czech president Miloš Zeman focused on a theme he has frequently turned to, namely the fight of what he characterised as civilisation against the threat of terrorism:
“When I was a relatively young man, I was deeply influenced by two books. One of them was The End of History by Francis Fukuyama, and the second one (was) The Clash of Civilisations by Samuel Huntington. Fukuyama was something like a description of a ‘Brave New World’ – a new utopia, expecting that every country has the same political system, based on liberal parliamentary democracy. Nice dream, but nothing more than a dream...”
Zeman then stated that Huntington’s book predicted a gradual conflict between various civilisations, referencing the author’s speaking of the ‘bloody borders of Islam’ and warned of the emergence of an ‘anti-civilisation’ which has risen over the last few decades:
“The typical feature of this civilisation is the fact that it is based on terror, and nothing more than terror. And we are seeing terrorist acts all over Europe, and not only Europe. And we convey our condolences, we express our solidarity with the victims of terroristic actions, we organise protests and demonstrations, but, unfortunately, still we hesitate to fight against terroristic anti-civilisation with our full power.”
Zeman went on to applaud UN Secretary General António Guterres for creating a new Office of Counter-Terrorism earlier this year, but called on the body to streamline its efforts and to not resist the use of force in this fight.
Finally, Zeman turned to migration, which he said was both fuelled by terror, and also exploited by terrorists:
“I understand the people who say we must welcome the migrants, but my opposition stems from the fact that massive migration from African and other countries represents a brain drain. The young, healthy people – mainly men – who leave their countries represent the weakening of the potential of those countries. And everyone in Europe who welcomes those migrants is affirming this brain drain and the permanent backwardness of these countries.”
Zeman closed by calling for greater development aid to countries which were suffering from population flight – providing electricity, schools, water, and hospitals – and for such efforts to also explicitly counter migration.