A few days ago, public defender of rights Stanislav Křeček responded on the social network to a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenský. He said Ukrainians would die because of the weakness of NATO, which rejected his request for a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
“Do we help as much as we can, at the expense of our own citizens, and do we still have to be insulted?”, wrote the mediator. He was criticized by many politicians for this conviction, but also by his deputy Monika Šimůnková. He then deleted his message, explaining that he did not want to cause hatred.
I would like to ask for your comments on the speech of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenský on Facebook, which caused a wave of resentment…
I said nothing more than the fact that the government of the Czech Republic and our citizens do not deserve to be called indifferent. For the rally of citizens in Wenceslas Square, which took place in support of Ukraine, it was said that it was indifference. That we were responsible for our indifference. It’s not true.
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I do not diminish the merits of President Zelenský, I appreciate them very much. But I think this should also be said on the Czech side. May we not be indifferent, may we not shirk our responsibilities. Even the ombudsman does a lot of things. But we certainly don’t want anyone to tell us that we are indifferent or that we are responsible for our indifference and disunity. I don’t think that’s fair and I don’t think our fellow citizens deserve that.
So you were touched by this particular statement by President Zelenský?
It just touched me. Otherwise, of course, as a mediator, I wholeheartedly support all actions in favor of Ukraine. We joined them. We do a lot of things for that. We condemn Russia’s unilateral aggression. We are terrified of what is happening. there is no doubt. But I don’t think we chose our indifference or our disunity. The causes are deeper. But above all, this is not the only problem of the Czech Republic.
Aid at the expense of the Czechs
What do you think is not the only problem of the Czech Republic? The situation in Ukraine?
Hundreds of people turn to me, I had support like maybe never, who point out that the problems of the Czech Republic are not in the refugees and the solidarity which is, of course, necessary and necessary. But on the other hand, there are people who are sinking into poverty, who don’t see a solution in front of them, who say: “Nobody will tell us who will pay for this”. (Tuesday – editor’s note) I’ve read that even the middle class won’t be able to afford energy prices, gas prices, rising prices in general, property, unavailability of housing. So this uncertainty about the future is concentrated on these people, and this can be very detrimental to the situation in the Czech Republic. It can even backfire on refugees. Because a lot of people say, “We help them and no one helps us? “I think we should be more careful.
Stanislav Krecek is a Czech lawyer and politician, after the Velvet Revolution, a short member of the Czech National Council of the Czechoslovak Socialist Party, from 1998 to 2013, member of the Chamber of Deputies of the CSSD, long time president of the Association of Tenants of the Republic Czech. From 2013 to 2019 he was Deputy Public Defender of Rights Anna Šabatová. Since February 2020, he has held this position alone.
So that’s what you meant in the part of your statement that refugees are being helped at the expense of Czech citizens?
Of course we help with what we have. To date we have not had apartments for many people who are in hostels in excluded localities. Suddenly we have a lot of apartments. The situation is very complicated. And there are people who accept with some embarrassment that we suddenly have a lot of resources. So far we have had to cut the state budget, cut finances. Is the situation different today? I understand it, I understand it, I support it, but you have to explain it to these people. See that the government thinks of them too. That he does not think only of the refugees. That it’s not just at their expense. Let it be then, let it be our duty and at the same time let us think of ordinary people and let us know what problems they are currently facing.
So you have specific voices of people who think the Czech government is helping Ukrainian refugees at their expense? Or is it your impression of the reactions on social networks, for example?
Madam Editor, a journalist called me in the morning to tell me that one million two hundred thousand people had come out in favor of my support in this case. There are a number of people who come to me with these issues. And I see it very badly. Society is divided. He falls into a fateful disunity. And this is a very unfortunate development for the future, but also to help these refugees. We should rather unite society, tell people that we know their problems, that we know them and that the help of refugees is needed. But at the same time, we do not forget the problems of ordinary citizens, who are growing up and whose solution they do not yet see.
Your statement drew criticism from various politicians. How did you perceive it? It has been said, for example, that you are not revocable, but that you should never have been elected ombudsman.
In addition to a sentence, written on private Facebook, not on the social networks of the Defender, where I said that the citizens do not deserve to be spoken of as indifferent? I don’t think that reaction was good. Minister of the Interior (Vít Rakušan from STAN – red note.) said I shouldn’t dig trenches. On the contrary, I try to cover the gaps that arise between people who believe that the government has forgotten them and the government who helps and shows help to refugees very strongly. On the contrary, the government should listen to the voices that alert it to the fact that there are people in this society who are dissatisfied with the current situation and who are tough on them. And not to criticize anyone who talks about it in any way. Or talk about me as a Babiš clone.
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So you reject criticism?
I don’t think that’s fair and that it divides society very deeply, because I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of ordinary people who think that they are forgotten by the government and ultimately defended. Many people have written to me what a heroic performance…. No. I consider it my duty. After all, the ombudsman is not there to grab the headlines, but to draw attention to the issues people are facing.
That one sentence gave a lot of people the impression that you were against helping refugees, even though it wasn’t there. Some people might have interpreted it that way.
Unfortunately, that’s how people interpreted it, and I very much regret it. We do a lot of things to help refugees. I have had a number of statements as ombudsman. We are now preparing, at my instigation, the statements of the mediators of the V4, that is to say Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, on these events. We refer to the opinion of the European Ombudsman. Of course, we condemn the situation. No one wants our children, our grandchildren to find themselves in this situation. It is a misunderstanding and, unfortunately, society is deeply divided. And any slightly different sentence evokes such negative reactions that, of course, things don’t work out at all.
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