May 5, 2023
Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments: 52 parliamentary delegations hosted in Prague
The EUSC Conference is an annual forum aimed at protecting and promoting the role of parliaments, as well as a platform for the exchange of views, information and experience among parliamentary leaders on topics related to the role of parliaments and the organisation of parliamentary activities. This year’s conference was organised by both chambers of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, concluding the parliamentary dimension of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU.
The programme at the Congress Centre was preceded by a working breakfast meeting between the President of the Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, and the Speakers of the Parliaments of the candidate countries for EU membership. The participants discussed the topic “National Parliaments and the road to EU membership: sharing experience”, and the discussion resonated with the security situation as well as the current state, priorities and weaknesses of the integration process. The breakfast was attended by delegations from the parliaments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova, Northern Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine.
Senate President Miloš Vystrčil commented on the working breakfast with the EU candidate countries, “I am personally convinced that Russian aggression in Ukraine, as well as the dangers associated with dependence on authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, could help accelerate the enlargement of the European community of like-minded countries, which would mean that their chances of joining the European Union would increase.” He added: “The very dangerous strategic, raw material and product dependence on totalitarian countries and authoritarian regimes will also be a topic of discussion during Tuesday’s part of the conference.”
A meeting of the Troika, the Speakers of the parliaments of the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Spain, i.e., countries holding the three consecutive presidencies of the EU Council for the second half of the year, and the European Parliament, was then held at the Prague Congress Centre over midday. The topic discussed was the conclusions of the Czech Presidency of the Conference. After welcoming the delegations, the main part of the conference started at 1.30 pm.
After the delegations were welcomed by the President of the Czech Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, the first part of the conference began on the topic ” Russian aggression against Ukraine and the EU response in a broader geopolitical context.” Opening remarks were made by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Vít Rakušan, who emphasised the democratic values of the EU, and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Markéta Pekarová Adamová.
“The problem of Russian aggression against Ukraine is undoubtedly a global problem. The outcome of the conflict will clearly affect developments in any distant part of the world, and we must therefore do our utmost to ensure that dictatorship and brute force do not prevail,” said the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Markéta Pekarová Adamová, in her speech. She added: “A victory for Russian dictatorship and brutality in Ukraine would only embolden other potential aggressors from the Middle East to the Taiwan Strait. I certainly do not need to point out to this forum that a similar aggression against, say, Taiwan would have an extreme impact on all of us, even in the economic sphere.”
Ruslan Stefantschuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, was a special guest on this topic. In his speech, he declared Ukraine’s path towards European values, for which it pays the highest price. Other keynote speakers included Elżbieta Witek, Marshall of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Andreas Norlén, Speaker of the Swedish Riksdag, and Meritxell Batet Lamaña, Speaker of the Spanish Congress of Deputies.
The conference continued on Tuesday, 25 April, with the main theme ” Role of the EU in global cooperation of democracies and the issue of EU member states´ dependence on totalitarian regimes.”
Senate President Miloš Vystrčil said in his speech: “In hard times, it is often very difficult for us in our countries to get people to continue to support the democratic order, to not succumb to the various lures of cheap energy, food or life. Because all those “rainmakers” will come one day and make us pay dearly for it all. And we should bear that in mind. Our prosperity – Europe’s prosperity – is a result of our global cooperation. But I think it is time to admit that we also have it because we have lived and are living on debt – of this world, of the environment and of its organisation. This applies also in the sense that we have deepened our dependence on authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. There is no other way than to begin to gradually break out of this dependence.” He added: “I am convinced that our countries, our parliaments, are parliaments where democratic hearts beat and our task is to make that beat heard not only in the European Union but throughout the world.”
Other topics discussed on the second day of the EUSC Conference included information warfare, disinformation, security of supply chains and strategic autonomy. Keynote speeches were given by Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, who called for clear communication between European institutions, as well as by Tomas Grodzki, Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, and Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the Austrian National Council.
The conclusions of the Czech Presidency of the Conference were then summarised at a joint press briefing by the President of the Senate, Miloš Vystrčil, and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Markéta Pekarová Adamová. A recording of the press conference is available at this link. The conclusions of the Czech Presidency of the Conference can be found at this link.