Havel in Euro-parliament: We are on the same boat

CzechNews
11. 11. 2009 19:00
Dissident turned president Václav Havel stresses European integration
Václav Havel addressing the EP audience
Václav Havel addressing the EP audience | Foto: Reuters

Brussels - A two-day session of the European Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday was scheduled to remember the 20th anniversary of Velvet Revolutions that swept across the Eastern and Central Europe in 1989.

The Czech dissident turned President Václav Havel who opened the Wednesday session was among the special guests.

Addressing the EP audience Václav Havel stressed that communists were in "power for the first time and hopefully for the last time".

"No one was prepared for the surprisingly quick fall of the Iron Curtain. It would be against nature," he said right at the beginning of his several minutes lasting speech, referring to the heady days of November 1989.

He then challenged to support those who oppose regimes in Belarus, Burma, Iran and North Korea.

"It is necessary to have solidarity with all those living in authoritarian and totalitarian regimes," he said. At this moment the audience interrupted his words by applause.

On the same boat

The first post-1989-revolution president soon moved on to talk about European Union issues.

"The debate about the Lisbon Treaty deals with the question in which relation the European and national sovereignties should co-exist. The answer is clear: they should complement each other. If I feel to be European, it doesn't mean I cease to be Czech," said Havel. "Europe is the nation of our nations," he added.

Havel said that "the integration process in Europe must continue" because it is in the interest of the Europeans.

Václav Havel and EP boss Jerzy Buzek
Václav Havel and EP boss Jerzy Buzek | Foto: Reuters

"We all are on the same boat and the boat is going the right direction, if all the passengers bear the same responsibility, not trying to act on their own behalf," he said, referring to president Václav Klaus, a vocal critic of the European Union.

He then went to defend the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights from which the Czech Republic has asked for an opt-out based on the request of president Václav Klaus.
Havel's speech wasn't entirely without a critical view of the 27-nation bloc and its complex institutions.

He proposed to establish a body that would have its members elected by national parliaments.

"This way they would not feel they cannot be part of the European decision making processes," Havel said.

Václav Havel is the founding father of the Forum 2000 Foundation that annualy organizes a conference dedicated to human rights
Václav Havel is the founding father of the Forum 2000 Foundation that annualy organizes a conference dedicated to human rights | Foto: Naďa Straková

His remark about the European Parliament needing to have more power and stop being only an "expensive decoration" earned him a strong applause.

Havel would also welcome if in the future the EU had a "thin, easily understandable and readable European constitution, so school children would understand it".

"All the rest would be only annexes," he added jokingly.

Havel said that the Charter of the Fundamental should define values and ideals that Europe is striving for and be an inseparable part of the Constitution.

Havel last addressed the EP nine years ago as the president of the Czech Republic. But there were not Czech representatives at that time sitting in the EP hall, since the country had four more years to go before it accessed the EU.

 

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