Former student leader in 1989 and longtime head of the NGO People in Need, Šimon Pánek, gave a somber speech before some 400 attendees at the 23rd Prague Student Summit on Friday in which he said the the world was growing increasingly dangerous, that democracy was weakening and globalization between tyrants was becoming more and more the norm.
He expressed the view that the dominance of European and American influence was waning after 200 years making way for a multipolar world and suggested that authoritarian leaders and dictators were the ones taking advantage.
As an example, he pointed to many meetings between leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, asking students what they thought they talked about.
Mr Pánek was equally grim in his description of political developments on the domestic scene, referencing J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings: "Mordor's power is growing" he said in describing the balance of power in the Czech Republic and the power bloc of the current president and the prime minister in resignation, which, in his view, was "nothing to cheer about".
The NGO head, who spoke after the US ambassador to Prague Stephen B. King and first round presidential candidate Marek Hilšer, said Czechia did not need as many new diplomats and experts as there were students at the summit but rather people who "fought for basic ideals, solidarity, were honorable and defended human rights".