GLOBSEC together with Jagello 2000 presents the prestigious Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award in order to recognise personalities who have substantially contributed to freedom and democracy in Central Europe, to strengthening transatlantic relations and the integration of Central Europe to Euro-Atlantic institutions. Last week, the awardee was Pavol Demeš, Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am truly honoured to be here today. Receiving the Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award means a great deal to me for three reasons: who awards it; what it stands for; and the timing.

Jagello 2000 and GLOBSEC are exemplary, action-oriented partner organisations established and run by young people with a very clear vision of the transatlantic partnership.

Powered by Zbynek Pavlacik and Robert Vass, both organisations have over time discovered the rather simple secret of their modus operandi – you can get things done if you work hard and build trust and partnerships across countries and sectors. In doing so, Jagello 2000 and GLOBSEC have shown that they are capable of creating incredible international networks and spaces for open dialogue.

They are focused, determined and not shaken by emerging uncertainties and difficulties in transatlantic relations. For them, the idea of a whole, free and peaceful Europe continues to guide their work, even as leaders in the United States and closer to home try to create new slogans and redefine the nature of our partnerships.

I must particularly thank the honorary committee which nominated me for the award. It consists of twelve distinguished Czech and Slovak personalities which contributed to anchoring our two countries to Western structures, namely NATO and the European Union, and who still continue working to strengthen our ties.

This award stands for the values and ideals of the Euro-Atlantic community which remains so dear to me. They have been the guiding principles of my professional life for decades. They have also heightened my awareness of other parts of the world and helped me to establish lasting friendships across the Atlantic Ocean. I consider the land of Statue of Liberty my second home and a key friend, partner and ally for Europe.

I feel deeply privileged that my name has been added to the list of personalities from Europe and the United States that have been recognised for their efforts in promoting democracy, freedom and Euro-Atlantic relations since 2012. Among them is Ron Asmus, my friend, German Marshall Fund colleague and a true visionary in international relations. Unfortunately, he received his award in memoriam.

Finally, the timing of this award could not be more poignant. We’re living in a period of unprecedented fragility and unpredictability that provide many internal and external challenges to security. That’s why I am glad that the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and Ministry of Defence have just released their new security and defence strategies for discussion. Both documents highlight new threats and stress unambiguously the importance of European and transatlantic unity. We particularly need to prevent erosion of trust in our values and partnerships, which our opponents are also trying to undermine.

History should help in this endeavour. Next year we will celebrate two important events in our shared history: the 25th Anniversary of the Independence of the two velvet and very close states – Slovakia and the Czech Republic – and the 100th Anniversary of the formation of Czechoslovakia. There will be multiple events paying tribute to both anniversaries.

And we will celebrate several of them together with the United States, a country that has played a profound role in our past and recent history. Czechoslovakia was actually born across the Atlantic Ocean, where Professor Tomas Masaryk, General Milan Rastislav Stefanik and representatives of the Slovak and Czech diaspora, negotiated with President Woodrow Wilson to establish a new common state of two brotherly nations.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you again for this recognition and to promise that I will continue with all of you to ensure that our transatlantic community remains whole, free and at peace.

Pavol Demeš