Updated: 21-Nov-2002 NATO Speeches



Welcoming remarks

by Václav Havel President of the Czech Republic
at the Opening Session of the North Atlantic Council

Prime Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Czech Republic, I should like to extend to you our most cordial welcome to Prague – a city that many have described as one of the conceivable geographical centers of the European continent and that has emerged a number of times in its history as a pivotal, and occasionally somewhat mysterious, crossroads of various European and global developments, movements, spiritual endeavors and diverging power interests. For a long time three peoples with three languages and cultures lived together in this city in remarkable symbiosis. On many an occasion, the most interesting artists and scientists of their time came together within a sovereign’s court here. The city of Prague witnessed many an entanglement of history, both on the tragic and on the auspicious side, and it was also here in Prague that wars – hot or cold – began or ended.

May our forthcoming deliberations continue to advance the best features of this special tradition of the Czech capital city! May they advance them not only through the letter of the adopted resolutions or documents, but also through the intent behind them; their indirect consequences, and their long-term meaning, which may remain invisible at first sight. May our efforts to this end be helped by a climate of friendship and sincerity in our discussions! This palace, where we shall hold most of our sessions, represents a rather repugnant relic of the totalitarian system and of its obscure ideas about what should make up a pleasant and functional environment. Nevertheless, I believe that the people who will conduct talks here now shall not let themselves be in any way influenced or misled by the atmosphere of the building.

Dear friends,

I would be happy if this Summit meeting left no one in any doubt about the innermost purpose of our endeavors – securing the best possible protection for the safety, liberty, dignity, rights and prosperity of the citizens whom we represent here. This is not a congress of those in power, of generals or of representatives of the armaments industry. It is a meeting of democratic representatives of the people who consider it their duty to act in the people’s interests. Thus, this is a matter that concerns all people indeed, and I would be happy if people, not only in our countries but also elsewhere in the world, understood this. Some may perhaps feel inconvenienced by the measures taken in order to protect our own security or to ensure the undisturbed progress of our talks, but this is not the main thing at all. The most important thing is that we are looking here for ways of ensuring a safer life for all people. We want our planet to be a place where people can live in peace and freedom.

Dear friends,

Allow me now to offer a small contribution to the success of our present talks and of all NATO’s deliberations in the future – a new gavel!

Go to Homepage Go to Index