Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis


Crowd’s Whistling Accompanies Babis, Vondracek’s Speeches On 1968

Prague, Aug 21 (CTK) – The crowd whistled and chanted slogans during the speeches PM Andrej Babis and lower house head Radek Vondracek (both ANO) gave on the 50th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion at a meeting outside the Czech Radio (CRo) seat today, with Babis refusing to comment on the disturbers.


In his speech, Babis said he disagrees with those saying that freedoms have been in jeopardy in Czechia.


Freedom is not endangered in the country at present. Everyone can say what they want to, can establish a party or movement and criticise anything, Babis said.


“Freedom and democracy mainly rest in people being able to recognise other people’s right to a different opinion or preference,” Babis said.


He who dislikes something or someone, can use all forms of criticism and struggle or he can elect someone else in the next polls, Babis said.


In his five-minute speech, he voiced admiration for the people who did not hesitate to put their lives at risk during the August 21, 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops.


The crowd of hundreds of people, who previously booed at Babis on his arrival at the CRo building earlier this morning, shouted on him and blew whistles at a distance of a few metres, completely drowning out his speech.


Babis said the building of free, decent and thriving society is a difficult and neverending task.


“At present, we too often see many people misusing freedom only to gain utmost for themselves. Too often, we can see efforts to divide the society into those chosen and those who are supposed to shut up,” Babis said.


Czechs are experiencing endless political disputes based on false pretexts, which polarise the society, Babis said.


He said 1968 was a milestone event that influenced people’s lives for a long period of time. The Prague Spring communist reform process inspired whole generations to join the search for a freer, juster and opener social system, he said.


“Most people believed in the process of democratisation, they linked the revival process with freedom,” Babis said.


He called the invasion of the country by Warsaw Pact troops in 1968 brutal. “The suppression of the Prague Spring afflicted our people’s lives for many following years, when enthusiasm was replaced by disillusion and disappointment,” he said.


Vondracek, whose speech was also accompanied by the crowd’s whistling, complained that people confused the commemorative meeting for a demonstration.


In his speech, he said the occupation 50 years ago dashed Czechoslovakia’s hope for freedom.


After the invasion, the developments proved that communism is irreformable. The then Czechoslovak communist leaders did not meet people’s expectations and they wrongly believed that socialism with a human face can exist, Vondracek said.


He criticised the Czechoslovak leaders for not having put up resistance. “Freedom must be fought for, freedom never and nowhere exists without a struggle. Let’s remember that failure,” Vondracek said.


Values such as freedom and democracy must be defended he said.