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President Havel in Strasbourg
By Olga Szantova


PRAGUE, Feb 17, 2000 - Radio Prague

President Vaclav Havel addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. In his speech, the Czech head of state spoke about the situation in contemporary Europe and about the future of the European Union, as he sees it. He stressed the importance of furthering the feeling of European identity among all the inhabitants of the continent, as well as its unity.

The idea of the permanent coexistence of two Europes, one democratic, stable, prosperous and integrating and another Europe, less democratic, less stable and not as prosperous, is, for me, said President Havel, completely inconceivable. There is only one Europe, regardless of the differences within it and any important event in any part of it will have its consequences throughout the rest of the continent. Vaclav Havel stressed that Europe should be able to defend its values even, under certain circumstances, without the United Nations' mandate, citing the example of the airborne attacks on Yugoslavia. That's why he backs the creation of a European Union defense system and strict sanctions against those who threaten European values.

One of the most bitter chapters of Europe's recent history was the policy of appeasement which lead to the Munich capitulation in the face of evil, the Czech head of state told the European Parliament, adding that this experience was a lesson proving that evil has to be confronted at the very start and that not only governments should stand up against it, they must have the backing of their citizens.

Vaclav Havel stressed the importance of EU expansion for the Union itself, adding that its pre-requisite was helping the candidate countries renew and deepen a civic society. As for the European Union itself, President Havel suggested the creation of a new upper chamber of the European Parliament, to give smaller member countries a greater say. While in the existing Parliament the number of representatives from each member state varies according to the country's size, in this new chamber each country would have the same number of representatives. Vaclav Havel also proposed the creation of, as he put it, a clear and readily comprehensive European Union constitution. Its first part should outline the basic rights and obligations of European citizens and member states, while the second part should spell out the European Union's key institutions and their tasks.

Vaclav Havel was the first head of state from the countries seeking EU membership to address the European Parliament.
 

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