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September 16, 1998

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The progress our nations are making as friends is possible only because of the courage of Vaclav Havel and the Czech people, who are fulfilling their dreams and inspiring the world. We will continue to work hard together, so everyone can reap the full benefits of our hard-fought freedoms.

President Bill Clinton
September 16, 1998

Today, President Clinton welcomes Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, to the White House for an official state visit. The two leaders will discuss ways in which our two nations can advance the cause of peace and freedom throughout the world.

President Clinton Applauds President Havel's Courage And Leadership. President Clinton is pleased to welcome President Havel, a world leader who embodies the spirit of freedom and courage to stand up to oppression. President Havel was a celebrated young playwright and democratic activist during the Cold War, leading the Charter 77 human rights movement and the "Velvet Revolution," which led to the end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. After more than a decade of harassment, interrogation and incarceration, President Havel emerged to lead his country in a peaceful transition into a democratic state based on free markets and human rights.

Working Together To Strengthen U.S.-Czech Relations. President Clinton has worked with President Havel and the leaders of the Czech Republic to forge a partnership based on a shared commitment to democracy and human rights:

  • Securing peace and prosperity in Europe through NATO enlargement. The President spearheaded efforts to enlarge NATO to include the Czech Republic, and President Havel has worked to ensure that the Czech Republic can meet its obligations in the Alliance by strengthening its democratic institutions and devoting resources to its armed services. The official signing ceremonies to welcome the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary into NATO next April represents a lasting contribution to President Clinton's leadership and Europe's long-term security;
  • Joint peacekeeping operations in Europe. The President applauds the efforts of the Czech Republic in supporting U.S. led peacekeeping operations in Europe, including the Bosnia Stabilization Force and the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission. By working together on these important peace missions, stronger ties have been forged between our two nations.

Leading The Fight For Democracy And Human Rights Around The World. The values which President Havel embodies are similar to the values that President Clinton has sought to promote throughout the world -- human rights and a commitment to democracy. These values are cornerstones of the President's foreign policy agenda. The President has led efforts to:

  • Restore democracy in Haiti, where two democratic elections have taken place since 1994;
  • Promote a lasting peace in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, and
  • Press for human rights improvements in his state visits to China and Africa.

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