The President of the Chamber of Deputies, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, is convinced that our assistance to Ukraine is still necessary, as is a strong approach vis-à-vis Russia. As he explains in an interview with the daily FORUM 24, the Czech Republic has passed the difficult test and it was becoming important not to have a populist at the head of the government. The president of TOP 09 also evokes the harassment of the opposition parties against the Ukrainians, the candidate of the TOTAL coalition for the presidency or the atmosphere in the Chamber of Deputies, where obstructions preventing the lower house of parliament from presenting .
The number one social problem remains the war in Ukraine. To what extent does this seriously interfere with the work of the Chamber of Deputies?
The war changed everything. I think we will all remember February 24 as the day when a historic era ended and we woke up to a new reality. Since then, we have worked hard to provide legislative support in the House to government colleagues led by the Prime Minister. For example, we have approved the extension of the state of emergency, which will allow us to provide more effective assistance to Ukrainian refugees on our territory. We passed the necessary laws to provide education, housing and social security for our Ukrainian friends.
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Can the House of Commons alone help the people of Ukraine right now?
I am in regular working contact with the Speakers of Allied Legislatures, who are also trying to help Ukraine and Ukrainians in their struggle for freedom and independence. At the beginning of last week, I actively participated in the International Conference of Speakers of EU Member States’ Parliaments in Slovenia, where we coordinated our activities in this regard. Subsequently, I also had negotiations with my counterparts from the Baltic countries, with whom we adopted a joint resolution. Furthermore, I was in intensive working contact with the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefanchuk, throughout the process. Our countries are among those that help Ukraine the most by providing arms and humanitarian aid.
What form of assistance has already taken place?
On the day of the outbreak of war, we called an extraordinary meeting of the Chamber of Deputies, where we unanimously condemned Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine by the joint votes of deputies from all political backgrounds. Immediately afterwards, we offered accommodation to war refugees in the two non-Pragmatic parliamentary premises – in Lipnice nad Sázavou and in Harrachov. More than eighty refugees, mostly women and children, have been living there for several weeks and have found temporary refuge there.
The Czech Republic has already taken in more than hundreds of thousands of refugees from the war zone. Can we help even more people or do we have to look for other alternatives?
I am basically convinced that we can do it. It is, after all, our moral duty to help others in need. Our company has proven time and time again that, at critical moments in history, it can surpass itself and set an example for others.
Is there still a consensus in the House on the government’s approach or are critical voices already being heard?
Unfortunately, even in such an extraordinary situation, where vested political interests should disappear, there are politicians who are willing to populistly exploit immense human suffering to gain political points on the cheap. It was certainly not surprising that the SPD began to question Ukraine’s aid through arms deliveries. Once again he is implicated in the company’s harassment of incoming refugees. The YES movement may do less or less, but the very phrase “our people” is an attempt to pit the Czechs against the Ukrainians. I find it dangerous. The government solves everyone’s problems, the division of society into “us” and “them” is foreign to us!
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How did you perceive the first wave of great solidarity from the Czechs and how do you see the growing number of opponents of aid to people affected by the war?
I am extremely happy that the Czechs have shown and continue to show great generosity and solidarity. Many thanks to everyone who offers a helping hand. At the same time, it is up to us politicians to explain to people that helping Ukrainian war refugees is helping ourselves. We may be next on Putin’s power interest list.
There are individuals who claim that politicians should not concern themselves with what is happening abroad, but only focus on domestic events. What would you tell them?
No country is an isolated island. On the contrary, we live in a more interconnected world than ever. Events in the Czech Republic are fundamentally influenced by events beyond our national borders. And that is why it is essential to be active on the international scene and to promote our interests and our priorities there, but also to help the Ukrainians in their courageous struggle against the dictator.
Do you think that more and more sanctions against Russia make sense, or is it necessary to intervene militarily?
Economic sanctions certainly make sense. In view of the gradually uncovered war crimes committed by the Russian military against defenseless civilians in Ukrainian cities, it should be reinforced as much as possible. The Czech Republic is pushing for the removal of other banking institutions from the SWIFT payment system, and we will continue to support the Ukrainian army by providing weapons, ammunition, heavy combat material and necessary equipment.
Our response immediately after the war started was, I believe, exemplary and continues to this day. We quickly became one of the states that actively helped the Ukrainians against brutal Russian aggression, whether militarily, humanitarianly or politically.
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Prime Minister Petr Fiala visited kyiv and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenský. Are you enjoying this trip?
I appreciate the personal courage of the Prime Minister of our government in making the trip to the besieged Ukrainian capital. It was more than a simple gesture. Verbal support is important, but personal action during a raging war takes on a whole new level. Following his example, other European statesmen also paid a personal visit to President Zelenský.
In the context of Russian aggression, there is again a lot of talk about the new president. Does the coalition already have a candidate selected by TOTAL?
Within the coalition, we opened a relatively intense discussion on the subject of the presidential candidate before the war in Ukraine. However, in recent weeks it has given way slightly to current priorities related to the urgent resolution of the consequences of war in our immediate vicinity. But we have to face it, because time is running out.
Andrej Babiš, who will probably also stand as a candidate, has almost disappeared from the media space lately. Couldn’t he be expected to show how he would behave as a head of state?
But I think that’s exactly what it shows us all in a way. They go to Poland theatrically to buy groceries. Where are the times when he fought against Polish products. I am grateful to the voters that in these times, thanks to their election, we have a statesman, not a populist.
We also have municipal elections, in which a TOTAL coalition was re-established for Prague. How do you see his chances of success and his possible obtaining of the post of mayor?
In the next municipal elections, we have the healthy ambition to run for the post of mayor of Prague and to assume a much greater share of responsibility in the management of our metropolis.
You personally have experience in municipal politics. How important is it that the autumn elections follow the legislative elections?
Definitively. I see the confidence our coalition received from voters in Prague during last year’s parliamentary elections as a strong impetus to continue mutual cooperation on the same ground and at other levels of government. Remember that this was the best result in the country, more than 40% support for TOTAL. Voters value the ability to get along and deliver a quality program.
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When we return to the House, are you still expecting negotiations as tense as, for example, on the pandemic law?
The present time is extremely complicated in many ways. So I guess there are still more tense negotiations ahead of us. Opposition parties fear the possibility of voting by post from abroad, as they have no voters there. They will therefore certainly obstruct the electoral law. He wouldn’t even play Babiš in the presidential election. He will therefore also do his best not to pass.
Can the Assembly already cope with possible obstructions from the SPD and Tomia Okamura?
Obstruction is also one of the legitimate tools of the opposition. However, it is good not to use this tool improperly. It is also often overlooked that negotiations late into the night or early in the morning place increased demands not only on elected Members, but also on the professional administrative staff charged with keeping the House running smoothly. In any case, the modification of the rules of procedure will be difficult to apply.
Do you in retrospect consider the decision not to give the SPD the post of Deputy Speaker of the House to be correct?
President Okamura has always assured me that this decision was the right one.
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A few months ago you were criticized for some of your statements on social networks. Have you reconsidered your performance in public?
I have been consistent in my words for a long time. To change that would be to betray yourself and the voters who supported me, among other things, through preferential votes in the legislative elections. Also, it is good to note how long I was criticized for my attitude towards Viktor Orbán, for example. Very often, it is the same people who have autocratic tendencies and dream of the same practices that he himself has been practicing for years. On the contrary, the critics of these circles confirm to me the correctness and the need to talk about it.
Has the role of Speaker of the House met your ideas for this position, or is it more difficult than you thought?
I agree that, for example, running a House meeting is more of a challenge than it first appears. However, meeting challenges is, in my opinion, a necessary condition for professional fulfillment and personal development.