SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good evening, everyone.  It’s a pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Lipavský here to the State Department, to Washington.  The United States and the Czech Republic are longtime strong allies and partners across so many issues, but we’ve seen the strength of that alliance and partnership right now in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

The Czech Republic has been a remarkable supporter of Ukraine in this effort.  It has taken in more than 300,000 refugees from Ukraine, making it the “home” in quotation marks for Ukraine refugees, one of the largest in Europe beyond the immediate border states.  And it has been a staunch partner in NATO as we work to shore up NATO’s defenses against possible Russian aggression.

So in these ways and so many more, as well as assuming the presidency of the European Union this summer, this is a vital time for the work that we’re doing together.  It’s great to have you here.

There’s another thing that brings you here that is greatly appreciating and quite frankly moving to me, and that is tomorrow the services for Madeleine Albright, a proud daughter of the Czech Republic but also of course of the United States, a person greatly revered in this building, in this institution.  I’m grateful to you, Jan, for being here at this time as well – all of you.

FOREIGN MINISTER LIPAVSKY:  Mr. Secretary, Antony, thank you for this opportunity to meet and reiterate our good – great – relationship.  And we are meeting in extraordinary time.  The Putin wars against Ukraine, it’s something we have not witnessed, I think, since the end of the Second World War.  It’s an attempt to attack the international order, and it is very important for Central and Eastern Europe to know that we are not left alone, that being a member of NATO means that there is a commitment to care for each other and that this is a policy of the United States that we can – we can be sure that we have this partner, we have this partnership, and that you care, that the United States care about Europe.

So in this extraordinary time it is really important for us to hear that and to of course see the real actions behind that, which is the delivery of not only humanitarian aid, because it’s nice to have a band-aid when something happens to you, but in a time for war we – the weapons will decide – the will and weapons will decide the result on the ground.  And sadly, Putin’s mind is a product of KGB Soviet era, and he really believes in this Soviet – Soviet myth.  They do not consider Ukraine a sovereign state, which means they are against the international order.  And this imperialistic vision tends to snowball, so would be left to go away with aggression against Ukraine, we would pay much higher cost in the future for that, as we have seen previously in history.

So I cannot stress it more and more forcefully:  Thank you very much for your care for European security.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you, Jan, very much.  Appreciate it.  Thanks, everyone.

U.S. Department of State

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