“It must be peace on the terms of the defender and not the aggressor” says Czech president about end to Ukraine war

Petr Pavel addressing the UN General Assembly

President Petr Pavel addressed the UN General Assembly on Tuesday evening, where he is leading the Czech delegation in New York for the first time since taking office. His speech roundly condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine, as well as touching on climate change and other global threats.

Much of Mr Pavel’s speech at the 78th session of the UN General Assembly focused on the war in Ukraine and criticism of Russia’s actions.

“Last year, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, one of the founding nations of this organisation, blatantly violated the fundamental principles the UN stands on. The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine continues to constitute a manifest violation of the UN Charter and international law that we all subscribe to.”

The Czech president criticised Russia for the atrocities it had committed in Ukraine and called on it to withdraw unconditionally from the country. He also emphasised Czech support for the establishment of a special international tribunal to prosecute war crimes, as well as the establishment of a register of damage caused by the Russian military to help with Ukraine’s eventual post-war reconstruction.

Mr. Pavel asked leaders of other democratic countries to also continue to support Ukraine. Although the Czech president said that the Ukrainian people deserved peace, he emphasised that it couldn’t be peace at any price.

“If it is to be sustainable, it cannot be based on an unjust compromise, or conditions imposed by the conqueror. Neither shall it leave hopes for Russia to fulfil its imperial ambitions. It must be peace on the terms of the defender and not the aggressor.”

With this in mind, he underscored that Czechia will continue to support Ukraine in the defence of its territory for as long as is necessary, reminding the assembly of Czechia’s own history of Russian military oppression.

Petr Pavel addressing the UN General Assembly | Photo: Frank Franklin II,  ČTK/AP

“My country has its own experience with wars and interventions, including a decades-long military occupation imposed by Moscow. It taught us what it means when might makes right. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has come at an even higher cost.”

The president pointed out that Czechia has supported Ukraine from day one, providing military and humanitarian aid and taking in more refugees per capita than any other country. He also didn’t miss an opportunity to highlight other areas where Czechia has contributed to the common good, such as in the field of climate change.

He pointed out that, according to the latest index, Czechia had ranked as the 8th most advanced country in the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and said that it was “no coincidence” that it was under the Czech EU Council Presidency that crucial legislation for the Green Transition was finalised.

While calling climate change the “single most destructive threat to humankind”, Petr Pavel also spoke about threats to democracy, security, and media independence, especially from authoritarian regimes which use cyber, economic and political tools to spread misinformation and propaganda.

Although Russia received the brunt of his condemnation, the Czech head of state also spoke out against China for its military actions in the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, and against North Korea and Iran for the intercontinental ballistic missile tests they had conducted. He concluded by emphasising the need for international cooperation to combat these global threats.

“Those who contest the international rules steer the wheel of global security backwards into confrontation, and sooner or later, at the expense of all of us. It is apparent that only collective action can ensure a safe and prosperous future for all. In this respect, Czechia recognises its global responsibility and remains committed to ensuring that no one is left behind.”

Author: Anna Fodor
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