Updated: 20-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches


20 November

Opening Remarks

by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson
at the Farewell to President Havel

Mr President, Mr President,
Distinguished colleagues, friends

As Chairman of the North Atlantic Council and Secretary General of NATO, I have the honour of welcoming you to our meetings of Heads of State and Government in Prague.

This will be NATO’s transformation Summit, transforming the Alliance to deal with the threats and challenges in the 21st Century.

And it is very fitting that this transformation Summit should take place in the Czech Republic.

Tomorrow, in the NATO Summit, we will make real history.

Tonight we honour a man, Vaclav Havel, who made that history possible.

Once, Mr President, you were a dissident. I know the feeling from my own distant youth, but our dissidence in the West never required us to take the pain and make the sacrifices you made. You, Mr President, kept the flame of freedom burning here. It was a flame of bright hope amid dark oppression.

You were an inspiration, at home and abroad. Now, scarcely more than a decade on from the recovery of Czech democracy, you are President of your country and the host and Dean of the NATO Summit in Prague.

Who says dreams don’t come true?

And now I ask President Jacques Chirac, Président de la Republique française, on behalf of us all, to recognise and salute your unique contribution to the Alliance.

Monsieur le Président vous avez la parole.

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