English Pages, 7. 5. 2009
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Let me welcome all of you at this very special dinner organized on the occasion of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit, which has been taking place in Prague today and which I have the honour to conclude by hosting this event.
On behalf of the Czech EU Presidency, I would like to greet all of you, but especially the delegations of the countries taking part in the Eastern Partnership project: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. We are also honoured by having here participants of the tomorrow’s EU summit with the Southern Corridor countries, president of Turkey, Mr. Gül, and representatives of Egypt, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Iraq.
We have met in one of the old Prague palaces that had been witness to many historic events dating back to the Czech national revival two centuries ago. One of them goes back to the revolutionary year 1848 when Czech democrats and liberals organized here, in this building, the so called Slav (or perhaps Slavonic) congress demanding – to use today’s terminology – human rights and federalization of the Austrian monarchy. The congress was, however, interrupted and involuntarily put to an end by the uprising of the people of Prague against Vienna, something – I hope – does not threaten now.
Eastern Partnership brings together a special group of countries. After the fall of communism, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as well as the Caucasus countries went through a radical systemic change. All of them made big efforts toward building a free society based on political pluralism and market economy, and all of them struggled for being recognized as a part of the free world. An important component of their endeavor was seeking a partnership with the European Union. Several countries have succeeded in becoming members, others have remained in various forms of association or in other forms of relationship. The concept of Eastern Partnership is one of the new projects of that kind.
We hope that today’s summit will send an important message that the EU opens new forms of relations and starts a more intensive cooperation with this group of countries. The main goal of the Eastern Partnership is to accelerate political dialogue and strengthen economic cooperation. Other goals are described in the Joint Declaration adopted today. Nevertheless, I would like to stress that this form of partnership cannot in any way be interpreted as an alternative to the long-term perspective of a potential future EU membership for these countries.
The European Union has paid extraordinary attention to both the deepening and the widening of the European integration process in the last couple of years. This process is not over and will never be. No one wants to establish a closed, privileged club. We don’t also intend to introduce inappropriate accession obstacles which would take decades to overcome. The requirements for the future members are and will be clear and transparent.
Eastern Partnership is organized with the aim to achieve more intensive cooperation. It is for something, not against anyone or anything. No country should fear that the Eastern partnership is aimed against it. I would like to be very explicit in this respect.
To repeat, Eastern Partnership is based on commitments to freedom and democracy, as well as to market economy. Sharing common values and implementing them is more important than geographical proximity.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me raise a glass to the success of this endeavour.
Václav Klaus, Eastern Partnership Summit, dinner speech, Prague, Žofín, May 7, 2009
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