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Czech President Urges Integration, Not Unification

November 5, 2009 – Czech Republic President Václav Klaus cautioned about the buildup of central power in Europe in a Georgetown speech marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism.

“The historic autumn of 1989 deserves to be commemorated,” Klaus told a Gaston Hall audience on Nov. 5. “[But] we should use it as a momentum for the future.”

Klaus’ last visit to Georgetown came during the mid-1990s during his term as prime minister. Back then he talked about the problematic transition from communism to a free society.

In this speech, Klaus’ concern shifted to concern about endangering free societies.

“I don’t expect old communism to come back,” said Klaus. “I see other ‘isms’ waiting for their chance … [and] their structural characteristics look dangerously similar [to communism].”

Klaus said the European Union nations should become more integrated than unified, decried excessive governmental intervention.

“Communism was a utopia to mastermind human society… current efforts to fight the [financial] crisis, to fight climate [change], to artificially unify Europe belong to the same category,” he explained.

Just days before his Georgetown visit, Klaus made headlines by finally signing the Treaty of Lisbon – the European Union’s reform pact – on Nov. 3. The Czech Republic was the last nation in the European Union to ratify the treaty.

With the treaty now ratified, the EU’s bloc of nearly half a billion people may focus on selecting its first president to speak for it on global affairs.

“The current dispute about the Lisbon Treaty, which probably ended two days ago when I signed it, is about whether to go ahead with this freedom-and-prosperity-endangering process or whether to interrupt it,” said Klaus. “Some of us are not happy being brought back to a centrally organized and controlled world that we got rid of just 20 years ago.”

The Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (CERES) sponsored Klaus’ lecture, which generated discussion among members of the university community.

“He urged his audience to recognize the threats to human liberty embodied in unnecessary government regulation of their lives,” said Angela Stent, director CERES.

Native Czech Jakub Kulhanek (G’11), a student in the CERES program, said he didn’t agree with the all the views expressed in the leader’s speech.

“Although I tend to disagree with my president on issues, I think it is very important that we have a lively exchange of ideas,” he said. “Georgetown has once again proven to me that it is a great venue for a truly international dialogue.”

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