“Unfortunately, it is clear that Poland and Hungary are gradually moving away from the rule of law and liberal democracy. We cannot turn a blind eye to this and remain silent,” believes Czech politician Markéta Pekarová Adamová, leader of TOP 09 since 2019.
Łukasz Grzesiczak: In an interview for Denik.cz, you were asked about your plans in connection with having children. In another interview, the journalist asked if you like to be given flowers. Although I did not read all of the interviews with Andrej Babiš or Zdeňek Hřib, I assume that they are probably not asked about similar issues. So why do you get such questions?
Markéta Pekarová Adamová: My male colleagues are not asked similar questions by journalists, because caring for the family is still considered to be a matter for women. This does not prevent me, however, from working in politics. I think that all women in senior positions, as well as those working in other areas, encounter such attitudes.
It seems that only one thing is more difficult than being a woman in politics: being a young woman in politics.
I do not see much difference. Sometimes I hear comments that refer to my age, but for me it’s more foul play than a factual comment about my work. It is difficult to take similar comments seriously.
So you do not take such comments personally?
No. Other politicians don’t mind my age, or at least they don’t openly comment on it, so I have no reason to take it personally. Besides, I have been in politics for ten years, I started at 26, so I had a lot of time to prove that I know what I’m doing. The situation here is similar to any other field – experience plays an important role.
And yet in the Czech Republic, there are still relatively few women in politics and business in prominent positions. What does this result from?
There are many different factors, but generally there are simply a few active women who are interested in working in higher political or business structures. But those who do encounter various obstacles, for example, poor access to kindergarten care or limited opportunities for part-time work.
So providing these opportunities to women would improve the situation?
Yes, and this is an issue I have been working on for a long time – to give women and parents of young children in general a space where it will be easier to combine a family and a career. Women should not have to choose between these two things, they are entitled to both. Of course, good role models would also help, with more women in high positions. The more such patterns, the less young girls will feel that similar positions and achievements are unavailable to them.
I have been working on for a long time – to give women and parents of young children in general a space where it will be easier to combine a family and a career. Women should not have to choose between these two things.
And what was your personal path to politics? Why did you choose it? What were your goals?
I was actually interested in politics since high school. This was because I wanted to be active and create the space I wanted to live in. And that is my main political goal and motivation – to have a part in making sure that people in this country have a good life, that active and creative people have enough opportunities to develop, that we care about natural resources, that we pass on a prosperous country with a well-functioning economy to the following generations.
Let us assume that you are the head of the Czech government. What would be your first decisions – and why?
A lot depends on when this would happen. If, for example, it happened now, during the pandemic, I would certainly emphasize more friendly and empathetic communication with the citizens. I would gather around me the best possible experts, including those from abroad, in order to ensure the whole country’s development and success with the support of the greatest talents. I don’t like it when, for fear of competition, politicians surround themselves with people who “can’t grow bigger than themselves”. I would like to see the faith of citizens in the government restored. This faith has been seriously undermined in recent years.
I don’t like it when, for fear of competition, politicians surround themselves with people who “can’t grow bigger than themselves”. I would like to see the faith of citizens in the government restored.
Do you follow the protests of women in Poland? What do you think about them?
I do, and in my opinion they clearly show that such sensitive issues should not be solved from a position of power and authority. I consider the ban on abortion, in cases of serious damage to the foetus or rape, to be unfortunate and heartless.
In general, you are on the side of ‘pro life’ or ‘pro choice’ when it comes to abortion? Do you think that women should have a choice?
In my opinion, every woman should have the right to safe and legal abortion. Of course, we are talking about very difficult decisions, but a woman should be able to act if she finds herself in such a situation – and act in a safe way for herself. It is also crucial to help and support women with problems and, ideally, prevent unwanted pregnancies, for example through good sexual education.
When it comes to the possibility of having an abortion in the Czech Republic, the situation is complicated for Polish women. There is still an old law that does not clearly state whether Polish women can legally have an abortion in the Czech Republic, so Polish women living in the Czech Republic organized a campaign “Auntie Czesia” and wrote to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to unequivocally enable Polish women to have a legal abortion in the Czech Republic. I understand that you would support this possibility?
Yes, I would support it. Safe abortion is always better than a risky illegal procedure.
TOP 09, KDU-ČSL and ODS formed a pre-election coalition. Your party in the European Parliament belongs to EPP, while ODS is in the group of European Conservatives and Reformists, with Jarosław Kaczyński’s PiS. Doesn’t that bother you? What do you think about the policy of the current Polish government?
I consider the policy of the current Polish government to be problematic in many respects. If society and the political scene in Poland continue to be polarized, it is possible and even likely that the conflict concerning the divergent understanding of democracy and the rule of law will also move to the EPP.
We formed the coalition for the Czech parliamentary elections and built it on what unites us. Our goal is to succeed in the elections and put the Czech Republic back on its feet after all the crises the country has experienced.
Should Viktor Orbán be excluded from the EPP?
I supported the position of part of the EPP faction to exclude Fidesz. I think that Viktor Orbán no longer belongs to this democratic grouping.
Do you understand the arguments of Poland and Hungary regarding the European Union budget? Does TOP 09 understand the interests of Warsaw and Budapest in negotiations with Brussels?
Of course, I understand the policy of the Hungarian Prime Minister and the Polish President and their attempts to blackmail the rest of the EU to pursue their own goals, but I believe that the rest of the EU states should not succumb to such blackmail. Unfortunately, it is clear that both countries are gradually moving away from the rule of law and liberal democracy. We cannot turn a blind eye to this and remain silent.
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