Bohuslav Sobotka Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
Prague, 31March 2015
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Mr. Bohuslav Sobotka on the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln
Motto: "Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable - a most sacred right - a right, which we hope and believe is to liberate the world." Abraham Lincoln, United States House of Representatives, 12 January 1848
These words by Lincoln are a declaration of independence achievable for any nation. My relationship to Abraham Lincoln is very personal, thanks in part to his promotion of freedom. His example, for me, cemented the idea that it was correct to protest against the Communist regime, culminating in my participation in the Velvet Revolution and my contribution to the restoration of the Social Democratic Party.
Yet I had first come across Abraham Lincoln earlier, when I was a student, inasmuch as the first Czechoslovak president, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, channelled Lincoln in his life and work. Both of these statesmen became role models for me as I gained my first taste of freedom and democracy, and they remain cornerstones of my political orientation today.
Our presidents Tomas Masaryk and Vaclav Havel, the stance held by myself and many in our country, other European peoples, and everyone in other countries across the world fighting for human dignity, civil liberties and true democracy - here, Abraham Lincoln's legacy has fuelled the courage of the broken to rise up, and has influenced the course of history far beyond the borders of the United States of America. Lincoln's democracy, as the government of the people, by the people, for the people, was and remains a vision of the ideal for generations before us, those of us alive today and those who are to follow us.
The citizens of the Czech Republic, with the entire world, commemorate President Abraham Lincoln with respect and continue to be inspired by his legacy even after 150 years.