Updated: 21-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches


20 Nov. 2002


by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson
at the Dinner of NATO Heads of State and Government at Prague Castle, farewell to President Vaclav Havel

Prime Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The word “historic” is used too often these days, for everything from film openings to football championships. But sometimes, “historic” is the only appropriate word to use. And I believe that our Summit, here in Prague, is one of those occasions.

It is NATO’s first summit of the 21st Century. The longevity and vibrancy of our Alliance alone is remarkable. When NATO was founded, in 1949, one American analyst was almost alone in predicting that it would outlast the conditions upon which it was founded. He was right. For that reason alone, this Summit makes history.

There is a second reason as well – the very fact that it takes place here in Prague. It is important not to forget how recently this beautiful city at the centre of Europe lay in shadow, behind the Iron Curtain. Today, the Czech Republic is in its rightful place: at the centre of a free Europe; as a staunch Ally within NATO; and as the host of a Summit during which new members will be invited to join. Another reason why this Summit will go down in the record books. And again very special thanks to our host, President Havel, for his major personal contribution to all these achievements.

A third reason is equally compelling. This Summit not only highlights the Czech Republic’s transformation – it also launches NATO’s transformation. At the end of these three days, a new NATO will emerge. A NATO that has welcomed [number] new democracies into our community of values. An Alliance that is shaping security, through Partnership, throughout Europe, into Central Asia, and across the Mediterranean. And an Alliance that has the modern, robust defence capabilities necessary to defend our countries and our populations and our values from the grave new threats of the 21st Century.

This new NATO will be the legacy of this Prague Summit – a truly enduring legacy. Ladies and Gentlemen -- to our Atlantic Alliance!


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