Vladimír Špidla, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, opened the RECON Midterm Conference. In his opening speech, Commissioner Špidla discussed the concept of freedom and how it may be conceived. He claimed that 20 years after the Velvet Revolution, a misconception of freedom prevails, and he emphasised the important difference between freedom from, freedom against and freedom to.
'Freedom to something offers an interesting comparison to the post-communist Central Europe and to post-Franco Spain and Portugal. In this comparison, the Iberian countries win: they clearly defined their freedom after the dictatorship as freedom to something, freedom to include those who were pushed to the edge of the society (such as Spanish Roma but also migrants), freedom to include the others.On the contrary, in the Central Europe, including the Czech Republic, the conception of freedom to exclude (most typically in relationship to minorities, most often to the Roma) dominates (probably as a reaction to unconvincing egalitarianism of the communist regimes).The difference between an inclusive and exclusive understanding of representative democracy is crucial and the time is right to start a discussion about it'.
Download Vladimír Špidla's speech (pdf version)