Petr Pavel is a Czech politician and retired army general, currently serving as the president of the Czech Republic.

‘The EU Needs a Wake-Up Call to New Global Realities’

Czech president Petr Pavel is one of the proponents of the Ukraine ammunition initiative. He emphasises the EU’s urgent need to address global power shifts and enhance security against emerging threats.

European Voices: Mister President, the European Union was initially conceived as a peace project and was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. However, we now find ourselves in an era dominated by hard-power politics. Do you believe the EU is prepared for this new reality?

Petr Pavel: The EU was indeed founded on ideals of freedom, democracy, free markets, dignity, and rights for all. Europeans are hopeful for a better future and expect the EU to inspire similar aspirations globally. Unfortunately, it seems large parts of the world envision a different future and have different ideas about world order and governance, challenging us to adapt. We must address these realities not just from a standpoint of universal values but also in ensuring decent living conditions and security against various threats. We need to provide security for our citizens regarding both military and non-military threats. So we need to wake up to the new reality.

„We are indeed at the onset of a prolonged confrontation with Russia, though not necessarily of a military nature.“

Petr Pavel

Did Europe get too used to enjoying the peace dividend in the past decades?

It is a combination of several factors. We have enjoyed an extended period of peace and prosperity, which leads to a false sense of security — that we can maintain our way of life without actively defending it. People have a tendency to believe that the conditions in which they were born will be there forever. Plus, populist politicians who made their careers in convincing people of easy solutions surely are not helpful in the situation we are in. In a number of countries, these populists talk about the so-called peace agenda. “We have to take care of our own people, we don’t want war,” they say. “We want peace. So let’s stop supporting Ukraine and there will be peace again. We’ll enjoy prewar prices of energy, and everything will be fine again,” they say. But it won’t. Who doesn’t want peace? The question is: How can we achieve peace, maintain peace, or regain peace? Wanting peace and achieving peace is not the same thing. Peace requires proactive efforts, which is something we need to communicate more effectively.

Get the
full story

You can finish reading this article in the printed or digital magazine.

Buy now