The 2023 Freedom Lecture focused on free and fair elections in the new age and the challenges Artificial Intelligence and social media present to electoral integrity. It was delivered by MEMO 98's Rasťo Kužel, who talked about recent experiences from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and other countries. The event was opened by Ms. Martina Hrvolova, Resident Fellow and Senior Advisor to the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group of the German Marshall Fund and the president of the Friends of Slovakia.
The Czech and Slovak Freedom Lecture is a prestigious annual event inaugurated in 2000. It is co-sponsored by the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Friends of Slovakia, and American Friends of the Czech Republic. Intended to commemorate the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution 1989, the lecture is always scheduled on a date close to November 17. The previous speakers included Madeleine Albright, Adam Michnik, Václav Klaus, Timothy Garton Ash, Ivan Mikloš, Alexandr Vondra, Ján Kubiš, Miroslav Topolánek, Iveta Radičova, Petr Pithart, Michael Žantovsky, Pavol Demeš, Tomas Halík, Rastislav Káčer, Jan Švejnar, Beata Balogová and others. The full list can be found here.
Addressing global challenges, the lecture emphasized the vital role of the transatlantic partnership, delved into Slovakia's democratic struggles, and explored the impact of technology on elections. Rasťo Kužel focused on:
Global Challenges to Democracy:
Importance of Transatlantic Partnership:
Slovakia's Democratic Struggles:
Impact of Technology on Elections:
Vulnerability to Foreign Interference:
Following the presentation of the lecture, Jan Surotchak, Senior Director, Transatlantic Strategy at International Republican Institute, moderated Q & A session which provided insights into the capacity of electoral management bodies to face digital challenges, comparisons among V4 countries, and discussion of recent challenges such as polarization, using fear for mobilization, and potential solutions.
At the end of the event, Mr. Radovan Javorčík, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Republic, Mr. Miloslav Stašek, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic and Mr. Tom Dine, American Friends of the Czech Republic Chairman presented their remarks.
The video of the event is available here
The full speech by Rasťo Kužel in pdf is available here