Ladies and gentlemen,
Having mentioned all the various dangers lurking along the path toward an auspicious future for the Czech-German relationship, and having described those who – possibly without being aware of it – are enemies of such a future, I should like to profess my optimism.
I believe in the democratic, liberal, European Germany. I believe in the Germany of Theodor Heuss, Konrad Adenauer, Kurt Schumacher, Ludwig Erhard, Willy Brandt and Richard von Weizsäcker. I believe in the millions of German democrats. I believe in Germany's sincere desire to develop and intensify the process of European unification on the basis of the universal validity of the fundamental values of Euro-American civilization, and I believe in its readiness to work toward making Europe a continent of peace, freedom, cooperation, security and just relations among all its states, nations and regions. Therefore I also believe in Germany's sincere readiness to support a speedy integration of Central Europe into the North Atlantic Alliance as well as into the European Union. I simply believe in Germany's preparedness to be an influential party in building an increasingly united Europe and, in this context, to put its friendly relations with Poland, the Czech Republic and other young democracies on a new footing, just as it once succeeded in reshaping its relations with France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark.
I am not alone among my fellow citizens in holding this belief. The unequivocal support given by our state from the very beginning – unreservedly and without suspicion – to Germany's democratic reunification attests to that. Back when we were dissidents, many of us said – and our ideas often met with a lack of understanding, even among Germans – that there would be no united Europe without a united Germany, and that the Iron Curtain would never fall unless the Berlin Wall collapsed first.
I also believe in the favorable development of the democratic Czech Republic. I trust that it will speedily overcome the sad legacy of Communism and of its earlier historical traumas, too, and that it will gradually become a full-fledged and responsible member of the family of European democracies.
I trust that already during this year many things will be done to deepen the trust between our countries and peoples, to gradually eliminate the obstacles and barriers that strain our relations and to help remove all the layers of prejudices, misconceptions, illusions and suspicions we are confronted with. I trust that we shall be able to build on the solid foundations that we have laid for our coexistence since 1989, make use of the opportunities offered by the treaty between our states and develop our cooperation with a renewed vigor and at all levels.
I trust that our shared commitment to the fundamental values of civilization on which the Europe of today is being built will facilitate these endeavors and that we shall find within ourselves enough courage to stand up to all those whose political orientation draws on the calamitous past and who would wish to cross out our positive future.
I believe in the power of truth and good will as the principal sources of our mutual understanding.
Thank you for your attention.
Source of English translation (of original Czech speech): Václav Havel, “Czechs and Germans on the Way to a Good Neighborship,” Charles University Prague, February 17, 1995. http://old.hrad.cz/president/Havel/speeches/index_uk.html. Edited by GHDI staff.