SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good morning, everyone. It’s a real pleasure to have Jan Lipavský here, and all our friends from the Czech Republic. We honestly could not ask for better partners, stronger partners. The Czech Republic is a highly valued NATO Ally for the United States and a democratic stronghold. And we deeply appreciate the remarkable collaboration we’ve had across a wide range of issues over the last couple of years.
Of course, the extraordinarily strong response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is at the top of the list and we are working hand-in-hand to continue to support Ukraine, to continue to exert pressure on Russia for its aggression against Ukraine, and of course to work on supporting refugees, humanitarian assistance, economic reconstruction. The Czech Republic has some 500,000 refugees from Ukraine, and that support is quite extraordinary.
At the same time, we – today, we’ll have a strategic dialogue, the annual strategic dialogue. We’re grateful that such a strong team is here, and Under Secretary Nuland will be leading that effort as well. And I also commend to you a statement we’re putting out, appropriately this week on World Press Freedom Day, on our joint commitment – longstanding, shared commitment – to media freedom around the world. And of course, the Czech Republic has, since 1995, hosted RFE/RL – something we are deeply grateful for, and sustaining that presence I think is more important than ever, particularly given the Russian aggression.
But to show the breadth and depth of this relationship, as the minister was saying, he’s going to head to NASA later to sign the Artemis Accords for our collaboration in space. And we’re also finalizing a defense cooperation agreement. So in these areas and so many others, we couldn’t be more grateful, including the Czech Republic’s engagement in Africa, in Asia as well.
So Jan, it’s wonderful to have you here, and I look forward to, as always, a very good conversation. Welcome.
FOREIGN MINISTER LIPAVSKÝ: Thank you. Mr. State Secretary, dear Tony, I would like to thank you for having this very important bilateral meeting, and also for the opportunity to again have an annual strategic dialogue between our countries, which shows that our relationship has never been as strong as in this moment. And of course, in a time of Russian imperial aggression against Ukraine, to recall the strength and durability of our relations is something which is very important. And we share values such as democracy, freedom, and respect for human rights, and that what makes our relationship special, and that’s why we so value it. And I’m great that during this meeting and the other meetings we will show that.
We will present the joint statement on media freedom during your visit here in Washington. So it’s a good opportunity to, again, reiterate what you have already mentioned, that we are proud to host Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague. And of course, independent media is one of our long-term priorities, as also precious legacy of our first president, Václav Havel. We have a special program for dissidents from Russia and Belarus for people who are fleeing from totalitarian regimes, and we are looking for new ways how to help in that matter.
So thank you very much again.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you, Jan. Thanks, everyone.