Do Czechs feel threatened by war?


Two weeks have passed since the terrorist attacks in the United States and the world is bracing itself against the possibility of war. The Czech Republic is no exception. But how do ordinary Czechs feel? The first opinion polls have been published looking at the impact the tragic events have had on public opinion. Olga Szantova asked the director of the public opinion research institute STEM, Jan Hartl, whether the Czechs are afraid of war breaking out.

Jan Hartl:"Yes, we can say that the majority of the Czechs are afraid that the terrorists attacks may turn into a large scale war. This is an attitude held by 69% of our population."

Radio Prague: Since the end of WW II have the Czechs been scared similarly on any other occasion? The Cuban crisis for example or any other event?

JH:"Well, this is a period I can not offer sufficient data for as we did not do any surveys in those days- of the communist regime. But, remembering back to the Cuban crisis or even the Berlin wall crisis. I think that it was not only the fact that people were afraid but it was a real panic among the people - it could be seen on the streets, it could be seen in the shops. Nothing similar is to be seen here and now."

RP: Is the situation in the Czech republic different than in other central European countries?

JH:"I think that the most important finding is that about 80% of our population is very much concerned about the situation in the United States. People conceive the situation as a part of their daily lives. So it's a clear indicator that the world is united these days and that there are global problems and people are simply concerned not only about themselves but about world peace which is in fact more whole than it has ever been before."

RP: So, it's not only a fear for ourselves, for the Czechs, but a fear for the world?

JH:"It is very difficult to distinguish between the two connotations. I think that both of them are present. On the one hand our concern for our immediate surroundings and the people who are very close to us and also the threat of the conflict in the world which might affect us sooner or later."

RP: It's been two weeks since the attacks. Would you say that the fear is growing?

JH:"I think it is not growing and I think that people are waiting for the response of the United states. I think it is not growing."

The opinion poll conducted by STEM only dealt with adults. But what about Czech children? Kamila Pavlikova is a psychologist at the children's help line, where children call in with their problems.

"Since the attack in the USA we have answered about 40 calls from children concerning this subject. This is about 1% of all our calls. Children are mostly asking us what can happen next, what do we think about this situation. I don't think they have extreme fear of war."

author: Olga Szantová
run audio