These dreams must live in every society that wants to develop, in every society that wants to have higher quality of life – not only higher living standard.
I belong to those who are convinced that the emancipation of the working people must be conquered by the working people themselves. I cannot be a gift of an enlightened sovereign or of any vanguard party however advanced it might be.
Therefore I come to Athens to be taught, to look at the articulation of visions of the Greek youth. Because I believe that the main function of the leftist parties in Europe should be to help, to advice and to coordinate the self-emancipation of people. That is the core of the idea I call democratic socialism and that is what I am thinking about when I speak about democratic reconstruction of Europe.
Party of the European Left is an association of leftist parties that go in this direction, that come with wide knowledge of the historical fights of people for freedom, democracy and justice. We are here to help and we want to return home after it and help the self-liberating movements in our countries.
Being from the Czech Republic I should mention a few topics concerning the history of the youth movement in our country. When looking at the 20. Century, you may see that the Czech youth and students were very active several times. At the very beginning of the Czechoslovak state, during mobilization before German occupation, during the protectorate, during taking power by the communist party in 1948, at the end of 60´s especially during the Prague spring and at last during the social upheaval at the end of 80´s.
There is a unifying moment of all these students´ and youth uprisings – great longing for freedom and sovereignty of the Czech state.
It should be mentioned as a lesson of our history that not every time did the youth movement find sufficient support from the majority society. It was important whether the values supported by the Czech youth movement did or did not coincide with the values of the majority society. There were moments in the history when the youth and students stood at the head of the society and other moments when they stood against it.
One such negative example – in February 1948 the Communist party of Czechoslovakia was trying to take more power according to the wish of the majority society and the university students tried to rise against. And a positive example – in 1968 the changes in the policy of the Communist party also corresponding to the wish of the majority society led the youth to the top of political affairs. Democratization of the socialist Czechoslovakia matched the interests of the youth and students and they were prepared to identify themselves with the main slogan: Socialism! Sovereignty! Freedom!
I want to finish my short historical excursion reminding one event its 40th anniversary we celebrated yesterday. In January 1969 – five month after occupation of socialist Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact armies - the Czechoslovak majority society begun to become accustomed to the presence of a foreign army, begun to resign to the political contents of the Prague spring, ceased to resist the occupation. And in this situation - not directly after the invasion – a young Czech student Jan Palach burnt himself on the Wenceslas square in Prague. He brought the highest sacrifice. The majority society perceived this act as an extraordinary one but under given circumstances it could not accept this sacrifice. Nothing changed.
When I want to be positive – and usually I am – I would like to conclude that the resonance between the Czech society and the Czech youth movement existed in the history under the condition that the goals of the movement contained both freedom and social topics.
So at the very end: It is a natural right of the youth to revolt against everything that ruins their life but it is wise to look at the problems through the eyes of an older generation, too.
I want to thank you for the possibility to hear your description of the youth uprising and the reasons leading to it.
I wish you a lot of energy to persuade the whole Greek society that your goals are their goals as well.
MN, 17. 1. 2009