President Havel delivered the following address in December 1994 at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe summit in Budapest.
This meeting coincides with the fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the totalitarian systems in our part of the world, and thus the end of our separation into two opposing blocs. This anniversary invites us to reflect on how successful we have been in responding to the unprecedented challenge of this era, that is, the challenge of organizing relations in Europe along new and more just lines. Yes, it is only today, in fact, that Europe has a real chance to build this new order on a respect for the will of all of its nations, on their cooperation as equals, on values like democracy, the rule of law, the civil society, on the market economy, on a sense of responsibility for the outcome of human society, and on respect for the order of nature and the moral order within us.
In those five years a great deal, of course, has been accomplished. Our countries are developing a dense network of good mutual relations on many specific issues, both bilaterally and within different international organizations. We have agreed as well on many general principles by which we intend to be guided in the future conduct of our affairs, whether these are expressed in the Paris Charter or in other documents.
Nevertheless, I cannot help feeling that the birth of a new and genuinely stable European order is taking place more slowly, and with greater difficulty and pain than most of us had expected five years ago. Many countries that shook off their totalitarian regimes still feel insufficiently anchored in the community of democratic states. They are often disappointed by the reluctance with which that community has opened its arms to them. The demons we thought had been driven for ever from the minds of people and nations are dangerously rousing themselves again, and are surreptitiously but systematically undoing the principles upon which we had begun to build the peaceful future of Europe.
All too often we come up against a lack of generosity, of historical perspective, of courage to try new solutions, of genuine vision. Europeans continue to suffer and die in the former Yugoslavia, and with them is dying the hope that Europe will be able to bring these horrors to an end. New conflicts, both real and potential, are breaking out in the different successor states in the former Soviet Union and in other places as well. Yet faced with these clear warning signs, democrats appear to be marking time or even, at times, to be utterly at a loss. They mask their inability to come up with clear and courageous solutions with a superfluity of words. But there is little time to waste; the longer democrats delay in building a new European order, the greater the danger that this new order will be dictated by others—by nationalists, chauvinists, populists, and extremists—and that one day the only possible response will be astonishment that such a great opportunity has been squandered.
What then can be done? On what new issues must we find agreement?
Europe is, and always was, in essence a single political entity, though immensely variegated and diverse. In the past, its internal order was usually based on the will of the more powerful, who more or less imposed their notion of order on the less powerful. Today Europe has a chance to base its order, its peace, and its future stability on the parity and mutual understanding of all its members. Of course this is possible and thinkable only if certain conditions are fulfilled.
Perhaps the most important of these is the will to create mutual understanding and solidarity and respect for the traditions and the identity of others, as well as for the norms that apply equally to everyone. From this understanding and respect there should then grow a general respect for the right of different countries to decide freely about their future. No country ought to prevent another country from seeking a place or membership in the association with which it is most closely linked by factors of civilization, geography, security, history, and culture. All countries should, at the same time, divest themselves of the automatic suspicion that the membership of one country in a given European institution represents a deliberate threat to the existence of another country or institution.
It would be a considerable step forward if this principle were to become established in the political practice of the member states of the CSCE. A continent as rich and diverse as Europe can find its natural order only if the architecture of that Europe can be complex enough to reflect the diversity and complexity of Europe itself, and if each country can find its natural place in that architecture.
Among the various European associations and institutions, two dominate. One is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an association of some of the democratic European states with the USA and Canada; it represents an immensely important linking of Europe with the North American continent, whose civilization is so close to Europe’s. The second is the European Union, a formation that is purely European and aims to bring about a high degree of continental economic and political integration. Some European states which are not members of these associations, particularly those which until recently have been within the Soviet sphere of power, have good relationships with both organizations today and are moving closer to them and working toward early membership. It is a natural process that has its own historical, cultural, and geographical logic. It would certainly not be in the interests of a peaceful organization of Europe were anyone to impede this process.
Russia has a very specific position in Europe. It is an enormous Euro-Asian power that is going through a dramatic transformation. Without a close and, to some extent, an institutionalized cooperation between the West and Russia—or perhaps with the Commonwealth of Independent States as another developing regional structure—it would be impossible to imagine a meaningful European order today. If this cooperation is to work, however, it must also be based on mutual respect. Any attempt by one side to deny the other its particularity would not lead to anything good. Nor would any attempt to dictate to the other where its gravitational field begins or ends, or even an attempt by both to come to an agreement about something like that without taking the opinions of those whom it concerns into account.
It is all the more important therefore to build an institutional environment of continual and everyday communication between East and West. There is no reason why these two areas should not learn to live together in peace and partnership. And herein lies the unique opportunity for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The CSCE—despite the fact that it came into being under entirely different circumstances—can play a crucial role in the building of a new European order, one that no other existing organization can play. It can provide the institutional framework, or the space, for a permanent social dialogue, and for general cooperation among all European countries and with the countries that share a common civilization with Europe and have similar security concerns. If the area embraced by the CSCE naturally includes both the West and the East, then the CSCE may, at the same time, be the most appropriate vehicle for bringing them closer together and facilitating increasing cooperation everywhere, a cooperation based not only on the equality of all, but on their mutual trust as well.
If the CSCE was created as an attempt to lessen the tension and build cooperation between the two power blocs—the democratic and the Communist—then today it can become the framework for cooperation between all the democracies or emerging democracies of East and West. Moreover, as it turns out, it can also be a forum where a dialogue can take place between the East and the West, and their nearest neighbors, that is, Japan and the countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
And now permit me to say a few words about the more specific issues that concern this summit.
Of the various instruments of cooperation that exist within the CSCE, two in particular seem important at this moment, and it is no accident that both are related to security.
The first is the specific role played by the CSCE in anticipating various conflicts through what is called preventive diplomacy. This means sending missions to places of potential tension or conflict, missions whose purpose is not only to observe and analyze the situation but also to recommend to CSCE members a particular course of action which might avert the conflict. Much inconspicuous though important work has already been done along these lines, and certainly much more could be accomplished if we were to decide to give greater support to this aspect of the CSCE, both politically and in personnel and material.
The second instrument which the CSCE has, but which it has not yet used because it has left it exclusively to the already overextended UN, is the ability to send peace-keeping forces to various crisis spots. I feel that it would be in the general interest if we were to do everything to see that the CSCE could make use of this instrument as well. A great deal is being said today, for example, about the possibility of sending CSCE peace-keeping forces into Nagorno-Karabakh. It would be marvelous if some agreement were to be achieved in this matter. It would be important not only in practical terms—that is to say, it could contribute greatly to a peaceful solution of the conflict there—but above all, it would have a wider political significance as well: we would all be able to demonstrate clearly that we share the responsibility for peace in our part of the world and are willing to do something about it.
There may well be instances when it will make more sense for the CSCE to assign this role to a single member state, and then merely monitor its activities. But that should not become the rule. After all, we cannot delegate the task of safeguarding the peace in a given region to one of our members in advance, and on a permanent basis, and thus delude ourselves into thinking that we are fulfilling our responsibilities. Such an approach would do no more than lay the groundwork for a new division of the world, for new doubts about the intentions of the more powerful, for new dissatisfaction among the less powerful.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this meeting will confirm that there is general agreement among us on many specific issues, and that this agreement will prove to be another step in the right direction on the difficult road toward a new and better political organization of Europe and the world.
—Translated by Paul Wilson
March 2, 1995