Our beloved Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, chose his speech on Czech National Day (28 October) to have a go at we foreigners. He built his statement to the nation around notable years since the Czechoslovak Republic was brought into being by the great powers in 1918. Britain and France were condemned for the Munich agreement of 1938, the USA for permitting the Soviet communist takeover of 1948 and the Russians for suppressing the Prague Spring in 1968. The message to the nation was clear – foreigners are bad news. What’s more, the EU is especially bad news and the Euro proves what a mess the big European nations make of affairs – aren’t we glad we have the Czech crown? Klaus seems to have missed out on the fact that nations that don’t have the Euro have also been having a bad economic time – witness the British pound, the Icelandic kroner and the US dollar! However, our President, though strong on rhetoric, may not be quite so bothered about facts.
As a foreigner in the Czech Republic I have lived for ten years with this xenophobia (the notable exception is Vaclav Havel, the former President, who has a totally different perspective). That is why I remain so committed to the vision of IBTS which refuses to believe we have to remain prisoners of European political and military history, but even the attitudes of Klaus can be redeemed finally in a Gospel of peace and reconciliation.