|Updated: 22-Nov-2002||NATO Speeches|
by Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic
On behalf of all my colleagues in this room as well as on my own, I should like to express to you my most sincere congratulations on the invitation for your countries to join our defense alliance. The Alliance`s decision to open itself once again to the new European democracies signifies that the unnatural division of Europe, has come to an end in real terms, and that the last surviving remnant of the Iron Curtain - that strange psychological wall that used to separate the "old" democracies from the post-Communist ones - is finally breaking down. If the whole of Europe is uniting itself within such an eminent security organization in the name of shared values, it also signifies that Europe is once and for all discarding all the dark features that have accompanied its history to date.
Your countries will soon become firmly established as part of a great defense community in which the sovereignty of any member is inseparably linked to the sovereignty of all, but which is based on the free choice of the nations united in this alliance.
The Washington Treaty states that the contracting parties are "determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law". By your dedicated endeavors and by the positions you have taken, you have repeatedly proved that you see your membership in NATO not only as a guarantee of your own security, but also as a commitment: just as the Alliance will safeguard your security, you will safeguard the security of others and assume the co-responsibility for peace in the world.
I congratulate you and welcome you among us! I rejoice today just as I rejoiced in Madrid five years ago when the Alliance invited my country to join.