In his New Year’s speech, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the year 2021 begins on an unhappy note as the Czech Republic failed to tame the coronavirus epidemic so far. According to him, the pandemic showed how vulnerable we are despite all modern technologies and that a particular way of life should not be taken for granted. But it also showed solidarity, he said, adding that the vaccine presents hope for returning to normal. Czechia will catch up with the financial losses related to the epidemic, it is the lost lives that are irreplaceable, Babiš said in his speech. He also apologized to tradesmen for closing businesses.
“I’m truly sorry, but we had to choose between bad and worse. In this situation, human health and lives had to be given priority. The year was incredibly sad, difficult, and depressing,“ he continued, stressing the economic losses as well. “Those debts reaching hundreds of billions bother me, but I will deal with it because I know that we can afford it and that we will catch up in a few years,“ he said, adding that it is far worse to cope with human losses. He described the problems that the government was facing as huge and unexpected. “We had to react quickly. Yes, we made a couple of mistakes. But we also learned from them. The past 12 months have given us a lot, although we may not realize it now. For example, only a few people knew how many unknown heroes live among us,“ he said, referring to the wave of solidarity and innovative approaches of individuals. “I am not worried that our country will not be able to restart the economy, that we will not be successful or that we will lag behind Europe,” the prime minister said, adding that the crisis would also be an opportunity and a challenge. “Despite all the negative news, despite all the unnecessary quarrels and conflicts, it has been shown that difficult moments for our citizens mean a huge selfless commitment, a sense of belonging, mutual understanding, and respect. Solidarity and selfless help — that was our main weapon in the fight against the disease,” he said. He praised the work of people in all professions, which proved to be key in the fight against the epidemic. While, according to Babiš, solidarity manifested itself especially during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the situation was allegedly worse during the second one. In his speech, he called on people to respect each other and to have a dialogue together. “We should respect each other, knowing that everyone has a right to an opinion. The view of a person with a higher education is as valuable as one who works with his hands; people from big cities as well as people from the countryside; young and old. Opinions cannot be divided into the right ones and the wrong ones, but we have to have a dialogue together, even if some things are hard for us to listen to,” he said in a statement. Babiš reiterated that Czechia bought vaccines for de facto all inhabitants of the Czech Republic if they show interest and that the vaccination has already started with health professionals, the seriously ill, and the elderly.
“Only this way will we relax and protect our health system and be able to gradually relax unpleasant measures. Vaccination is the way to a normal life, but the journey ahead of us is long,” said Babiš, asking people to limit contacts with friends and acquaintances and “grit their teeth“ before the population can be vaccinated. “I will do my best to return to normal. We lived before Covid-19, we will live after it. That is why we look to the new year 2021 with optimism and hope,” the prime minister concluded with a paraphrase of the famous sentence historian and politician of the 19th century, known as the Father of the Nation František Palacký.
Title image: Andrej Babiš during his New Year’s speech. (Facebook)