Bern, May 19 (TASR-correspondent) – There are divisions, inequalities and polarisation in society, with social media often intensifying these phenomena, contributing to the rise of extremism; and the role of Europeans is to restore the balance between democratic rights and accountability, said President Zuzana Caputova when addressing members of the Swiss Government at the Federal Palace in Bern on Thursday.
“Democracy must defend itself against abuse because it can be abused to provoke autocracy. This is our common task – we must build unity based on our common values while maintaining mutual respect and diversity of opinions,” said the Slovak head of state.
According to Caputova, Switzerland and Slovakia are committed to the values of liberal democracy and the rule of law. “No matter what some may say, liberal democracy can have many faces. It can house social conservatives, liberals and progressives,” noted the Slovak president, adding that Switzerland shows this perfectly.
Caputova also mentioned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, which she called an attack on the principles of the European security order. “This order, which has allowed any European country, large or small, Slovakia or Switzerland, to choose alliances freely and pursue its fate peacefully,” she said in her address, pointing out that this is what is being fought for on the battlefields of Donbas and Kharkiv. Every effort must be made so that Russia withdraws its forces from Ukraine, she said.
The Slovak head of state also touched on the climate crisis. According to her, both countries are determined to address this. “Since our goal is climate neutrality in 2050, we need to accelerate the green transformation of our economies and our societies because our planet is running out of time. And, let’s face it, we’re running out of excuses for not taking action,” she said.
In his speech, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis praised relations between Slovakia and Switzerland. He also touched on the climate crisis, and on sport, mentioning in particular Slovak skier Petra Vlhova, who, he noted, is popular among the Swiss.