Czech Entry into NATO
His Excellency Václav Klaus
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic
It has been stressed many times that the Czech Republic considers entry into NATO as one of the main pillars of its foreign policy. This is a logical outcome of the post-November 1989 developments in my country. For us, entry into NATO has no alternative.
The Czech Republic has taken many steps forward over the last seven years of our radical transformation to make such an historic move possible. These steps have been taken both in the broader field of political, social, and economic development and in the narrower field of army and defense matters.
NATO ENLARGEMENT AND TRANSATLANTIC COOPERATION
We all know that the enlargement of NATO is not an isolated event. It is an integral part of the whole post-Communist era, and we must look at it with a broad perspective. We know that the post-Communist world has made a visible move forward. But we must continue. To think that the collapse of communism and its probable definitive end is a final victory would be very costly. There are new dangers all around us, new blind alleys, new attempts to create "brave new worlds" based on promising rhetoric and good intentions, but also on improper ambitions and false assumptions about human behavior. I hope we are all aware of that, and that we realize that no one can go ahead alone. We need international cooperation, we need transatlantic cooperation in many fields, particularly security.
The idea of cooperation between Europe and North America was born at the end of World War II. The tragic experience of our fathers and grandfathers with fascist dictatorships, communism, and the devastating war, coupled with their resolution not to go through it again, led to many post-war activities and to the formation of several international organizations, including NATO.
For decades after these developments, transatlantic cooperation was kept together by an imminent Communist threat, and some of us, subconsciously, accepted the idea that NATO is an anti-communist bloc and nothing else. With the end of communism, the common enemy disappeared, and some of us seemed to be at a loss as to what to fight for. I have never had such a problem.
For me, the transatlantic community has never been connected solely by one past enemy. It has deeper roots and a stronger basis. It was based on ideas, not on enemies. It was connected with the tradition of freedom, democracy, and a market economy, a common cultural heritage that we are obliged to keep alive for future generations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
FACILITATING EAST-WEST RELATIONS
The Madrid Summit will be an historic turning point. The international setting following this summit will not be the same. The old split between East and West, which has been weakened by the 1989 collapse of communism and by the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, will be overcome definitively. We are looking forward to it.
We also appreciate that the agreement between NATO and Russia was signed before the Madrid Summit. On the one hand, we are convinced that NATO enlargement is exclusively an issue between NATO and potential new members. On the other hand, we know that the NATO-Russia Agreement is a way in which to facilitate the enlargement process.
CZECH ENTRY INTO NATO
The Czech Republic is also pleased by the recent words of various world leaders, especially those of the President of the United States, which indicated that the Czech Republic has a good chance to be among the first candidates for NATO enlargement. We take this as an acknowledgment of our post-November 1989 developments, and of our political and economic stability.
We are aware of all the consequences of future membership in the Alliance. We also know that we must accelerate our preparations in many fields before entry. We do not wish to have a "free ride," but wish to be full members, equal partners; we don't only want to get but to give as well. We are prepared to complete the transformation of the Czech army, and to guarantee its future development.
I am convinced that there is strong support for membership in NATO in all parts of Czech society. There is, of course, the standard political dispute between the government coalition and the opposition, a situation, as in other free countries, where the opposition tries to complicate matters for the government and to get some political advantages. I know, however, that there is no real opposition to NATO membership in this country. For most Czechs, entry into NATO represents the final step from the past to the future. We are looking into that future with optimism and confidence, and with the expectation of future cooperation.