New York, September 21 (TASR) – Speaking at a Globsec conference entitled “30 Years of Democratic Change in Central and Eastern Europe: an Unfinished Business?” in New York on Friday, Slovak President Zuzana Caputova criticised polarisation of Western society, the lack of faith within and among the countries, and the questioning of liberal values, calling the EU in this regard “a symbol of everything [Slovakia] lacked during the totalitarian regime”.
In her speech, Caputova mentioned the era of the first and third Slovak prime minister Vladimir Meciar, which, according to her, showed how fragile can be a young democracy. “It turned out that when people remain silent decisions of few can hijack an entire country,” she noted, adding that the facts Slovakia wasn’t invited to join NATO during Meciar’s era while its neighbours were and that it was referred to as “the black hole of Europe” were the wake-up calls for the country.
The president went on to add that after Slovakia joined the Alliance and the EU fifteen years ago, Slovaks “started to take freedom, democracy and the trans-Atlantic alliance as a matter of course instead of enhancing them”. As a result, the number of those who feel secluded from society has grown. “People have a feeling that lawmakers and democracy failed them and that their voice isn’t heard,” she said, adding that populists have grasped this opportunity.
“Minority rights are perceived as a threat to our key values, decency is considered a weakness. National pride and patriotism are built on hatred, isolation and homophobia. Populism is presented as a means for satisfying wishes of the public,” the president went on, noting that talks about prioritising national interests over the common ones worry her.
“We need responsible governments with strong mandates based on the trust of the public and we need political leaders who’ll renounce populism and will keep their egos in check,” she said, calling for restored faith in the West.