|Updated: 21-Nov-2002||NATO Speeches|
Statement on NATO enlargement
by Václav Havel President of the Czech Republic
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Speaking on behalf of the Czech Republic, it is my pleasure to state that we have fully and unreservedly agreed to membership in the North Atlantic Alliance being offered today to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
We consider this enlargement to be of crucial significance. This is so not only for the reason that several medium-sized or smaller European countries will thus receive new safeguards of their defense and security or because these countries will assume their share of responsibility for a life in peace and freedom throughout the great Euro-Atlantic sphere of civilization. Even more important is the indirect meaning. It is only through this enlargement that a clear signal is given, not only for all Europeans but for the entire world, that the era when countries were divided by force into spheres of influence, or when the stronger used to subjugate the weaker, has come to an end once and for all. The admission of seven new members will represent a great act of confidence in the right of nations to freely decide which part of the world they want to belong to and what alliances they want to establish and nurture.