Today marks fifty years since the end of the Prague Spring, one of the most tragic and bitter episodes in modern Europe’s history. Commemorating the occasion, President Juncker issued the following statement:
“As we mark this anniversary, we remember the tragic loss of lives and we pay tribute to the courage and heroism of those – many of them students – who stood defiant in the face of tanks and weapons. Their legacy is our responsibility – we must never forget their attempt to defend the most basic of human rights and freedoms “President Juncker said, adding that today should be used as a “day of solemn commemoration to collectively remember that freedom and the respect for human rights can never be taken for granted and need to be fought for every single day […] I can think of no better way of honouring the memory of the heroes of the Prague Spring”. The full statement is available online.
Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič and Commissioner Jourová also commented on the occasion: “We must remember the lessons of August 1968. Freedom cannot be taken for granted, while there is no prosperity without freedom of expression, religion or association. Therefore, we should never tolerate a breach of international law, crushing people’s legitimate yearning for freedom and democracy,” Vice-President Šefčovič said.
“A Soviet tank at my doorstep is one of my earliest memories, it influences you for life. Hence I consider defending our democracy the biggest task of today, for all of us: Czechs, Slovaks, Europeans,” Commissioner Jourová said.