No other capital in Europe is closer to Berlin than Prague, the German president said after his birth to the Czech Republic
Welcome to Prague. You arrived by train, it is a relatively unconventional means for a state visit. Why the train? Does it have any symbolism?
No, it’s not that unusual for trips around Germany. But you’re right, when I go abroad, it’s more of a rarity. I remember one single trip – we used to travel by train in Italy. Maybe there will be some foreign travel by train. But the fact that I went directly from Berlin by train is really the premiere.
At the same time, however, it shows that no other European capital is as close to Berlin as Prague. This is true geographically, but I think I can say it is due to the good neighborhood of our countries. In any case, I am very pleased to have been able to keep the promise I made to your President. We talked about it so many times, we planned it repeatedly, we were thwarted by coronavirus. But now I’m finally here and I’m happy.
Tomorrow you will also visit the tomb where the heroes who took Reinhard Heydrich’s life fell. Why is this gesture necessary and necessary from your point of view?
People in the Czech Republic know that we have good neighborly relations at the moment, we are strengthening and moving towards the future. But at the same time we are connected by a terrible history. Heydrich is a representative of horrific acts, a occupation by Germany, a representative of what Germany has done to the Czechs. That’s why I’ll put a wreath at the assassination memorial tomorrow.
I know that not only the assassins lost their lives. The retribution of the Nazis cost the lives of many people, two cities were completely destroyed and their inhabitants murdered. We will remember that. We remember our responsibility. And it is our duty to send our neighborhood for the future.
In the next few days, you will meet a number of top Czech politicians. What topics will dominate these conversations and where do you expect disagreement to occur?
I don’t know if there will be any major discrepancies. We will definitely look back on the last three decades, especially the 25 years since the Czech-German declaration. Perhaps they should emphasize to the younger generation how little it goes without saying – in the light of history – that relationships develop so fruitfully and successfully.
In the days I will be in the Czech Republic, I would like to show clearly how closely we are connected – politically, economically, culturally. We only need good relations at the political level, and there are also many relations at the level of civil society.
We also used the train trip to meet the representatives of the commuters. There are fifty to sixty thousand of them on the border. They told us what they must have after the borders were closed at the beginning of the coronary crisis. But now everyone is surprised that open borders can become an obstacle again. We have repeatedly called for Europe to be strong, with open borders.
I am also looking at the forthcoming Czech Presidency of the EU next year. And I am sure that the Czech Republic will come up with new impulses again.
Mr. President, thank you for the interview.