|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Speech At Masaryk University
Brno, Czech Republic, March 6, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGTH: (In Czech) Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much for this. Maybe I should speak about Libuse (national prophet).
Thank you, Rector Zlatuska and Vice Rector Schmidt, faculty, students. I would like to say hello to my friend Ambassador Sasha Vondra, John Shattuck, distinguished guests, students, faculty, friends, I am deeply honored to receive the Grand Gold Medal. And very pleased to be here in historic Brno, where Tomas Masaryk began his education, at this outstanding University which bears his name, on the eve of the 150th anniversary of his birth.
It has been said of Europe's great universities that one-third of the students work too hard and burn out; one-third play too hard and flunk out; and one-third end up running their countries.
Now, I don't know which third might be represented at our gathering today. But I suspect that at least some of the young men and women I see here will one day become Members of the Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, and perhaps even holders of the high office first occupied by Tomas Masaryk, himself.
Each of you will have the opportunity to rise as high as your energy and skills will take you. This is a chance many generations of Czechs did not have. But the Czech Republic today is free, and the legacy of Tomas Masaryk is a major reason why.
Although President Masaryk died when I was four months old, in every other sense, I grew up with him. My family spoke about him. My father worked for his son. He inspired an entire generation of Czechoslovaks by his life, his beliefs and his works.
There was a time people thought he should be President of the world, as it was known in the 30's. He was the philosopher President. He acted like a President. He led like a President. He even looked like a President. And he was also, in his way, a foremost feminist, taking his wife's maiden name as his middle one.
T.G. Masaryk's parents were not wealthy or aristocratic. But he would never allow any prejudice or artificial barrier to stand in his way. He knew that not every person would be equal in ability, but believed that each was equal in rights, and each equally entitled to have his or her basic dignity respected.
Moreover, he brought the same insight to international relations. From the dawn of history, countries have differed in their resources, wealth and size. But President Masaryk did not accept the right of the big to bully the small. He did not believe in empires ruled by force. Instead, he staked his life on the revolutionary principle that nations should be independent, free and ruled by law.
For support, he looked not only to his own fellow citizens, but also across the Atlantic. And that is when the great friendship between our two peoples was truly forged.
Masaryk appealed to the United States based on his understanding of a profound connection between Czechoslovak and American ideals. He saw that in the sons and daughters of George Washington there could be common cause with the descendants of Jan Hus.
He believed further that a nation's success depended on loyalty to the principles which brought it into existence. In America's case and in the Czech Republic's case, those principles can be summed up in a single word -- freedom. But we must all understand--as Masaryk did--that freedom is not an end in itself.
Freedom enables nations to fulfill their destinies; it does not dictate what destiny nations will choose.
That is up to the people. Some nations are insecure and can only comprehend their own freedom as coming at the expense of others. They seek to dominate and hold neighbors down.
It was the dream of Tomas Masaryk that his nation would achieve a nobler destiny. And that it would one day participate in a larger community of free nations, dedicated to defending freedom and building prosperity, securing peace and respecting the rights of all.
The path to that goal has proven perilous and long. As President Havel reminded the world in his inaugural address a decade ago, the people of Central Europe "had to pay a terrible price for freedom."
The world must never forget the years of war, the struggle against Fascism and the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust. We must never forget the decades of Communist repression when those brave enough to think independently were killed or jailed; and universities such as this were denied the right to tell the truth.
More slowly than we had hoped, but more suddenly than we had dared, the Velvet Revolution brought forth a new birth of freedom. And with it the chance that T.G. Masaryk's bold vision would at last come true.
The great work of the past decade in the Czech Republic and throughout Central Europe has been to move beyond the dream to reality; to forge new structures for shared security; transform stagnant economies; and build democratic institutions that will last.
It hasn't been easy and much remains to be done. But under President Havel's leadership, this Republic has taken bold strides. Your elections are free, fair and hotly contested. Your press is independent. Your civil society robust. And your economy increasingly based on free markets and open trade.
It is hard to believe that merely a dozen years ago, our nations were considered adversaries. Today, we are allies, partners and friends. And we are working together on every front.
I will never forget the day last March when the Czech Republic joined Poland and Hungary as new members of NATO. To me it symbolized the true end of artificial divisions within Europe. And I was proud when our newly-strengthened Alliance acted to halt Milosevic's campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Our message was clear that the new Europe would be built on democracy and law, not on demagoguery and hate.
But ethnic strife is not the only threat our Alliance faces. No danger is greater than that posed by the spread of nuclear weapons. Preventing that is the goal of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty which marked its 30th anniversary yesterday. And this imperative is on America's bilateral agenda with virtually every nation in the world.
As with any goal worth achieving, it is not without cost. To keep the best technology from falling into the wrong hands, American firms are required to forgo many potentially profitable contracts.
But a similar responsibility rests upon the shoulders of all who are pledged to defend the best interests of the Euro-Atlantic Community. And we have urged all our Allies and partners to meet that responsibility so that our common security is protected and the future is safer for our children and theirs.
One of the great concerns of the United States is that, in many new democracies, average people are not seeing the tangible economic benefits that democracy is supposed to provide.
There are many reasons for this and no single overnight solution. But we are seeing that the countries that do best are those that are doing most to reform their economies, restructure their financial sectors, curb corruption, and invest in equipping their people with the skills required to compete in the 21st Century.
For all the legitimate concerns about globalization, trade remains a mighty engine of growth. And the United States is working to help countries in transition to take advantage of the opportunities that modern day commerce affords.
For example, the Czech Republic has made outstanding use of the partnership opportunities offered through the U.S. Trade Development Agency -- or TDA.
This Agency pays for studies that assess the feasibility of public improvement projects which can lead to lucrative contracts and jobs. The Czech Republic has generated more TDA grant activity than any similar European country.
In today's global economy, attracting foreign investment is often the key to prosperity, because private capital far exceeds the resources any government can provide. During the first three quarters of 1999, Americans invested more than half a billion dollars here.
But as the Czech Republic continues to privatize, we want to do more. Ambassador Shattuck will soon lead a delegation of Czech firms to the United States to meet with potential investors. And we are consulting with TDA about making the Czech Republic the site for a Regional Hi-Tech Conference.
As President Havel has so often reminded the world, democracy is about more than elections and the economy. At its very base it is a commitment to the values of law and tolerance, education and the participation of all citizens including minorities and including the Roma in community life. It is American policy to encourage the development of these values, so that people everywhere can live richer, fuller lives.
For example, we work with the Czech Republic and many other nations to spur the development of law enforcement and judicial institutions that are efficient, transparent and fair.
We encourage partnerships with nongovernmental organizations that are playing an increasingly important role in the social and political life of this country and the world.
We have helped U.S. universities to forge close links with their Czech counterparts, including the joint seminar held annually involving this university's faculty of law and participants from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
Our GLOBE environmental program, which was established by Vice President Gore, teaches children to respect and protect their environment. The Czech GLOBE program, administered by the Tereza Foundation, is one of the most successful in the world.
Our Peace Corps, which came to teach English and good business practices ten years ago, now has a Czech successor, the Bohemia Corps.
And our annual Fulbright exchange program, which is now supported jointly by our two governments, has enabled more than 400 American and Czech scholars to live and study in each other's lands.
Today, I am pleased to announce that a new grant is being established under the Fulbright program. This award, to be called the Fulbright-Masaryk scholarship, will be given annually to young Czech and American scholars who are working to support democracy and civil society. We see this as a living memorial to President Masaryk and the ideals for which he battled so nobly throughout his life.
To some, our many areas of partnership may seem unrelated, but in truth, each contributes to the larger purpose of realizing democracy's potential as the world's best hope for progress in all spheres of life.
And each stems from Tomas Masaryk's core conviction that the "ultimate end of democracy is the free and harmonious evolution of the individual."
This goal is, in one sense, a promise. In another it is a demand made upon each of us. Because a democracy cannot succeed without citizens who are willing to contribute their best not simply to personal gain, but also to the betterment of community, country and the world.
Of course, we do not all contribute in the same way or in the same measure.
Some may have the gift of teaching.
Some may use their enterprise to create economic opportunity.
Some may nurture or heal.
Some may uplift the spirit through entertainment or art.
Some may find their calling in public service.
And some may do their part simply by reminding us that we cannot be worthy of our own rights unless we respect the rights of others.
It is through such diverse contributions that, day by day, truly successful democratic societies may be built. It is a challenge to every country; a challenge none will ever fully meet; but which the best will never cease to attempt.
Today, with a matchless opportunity before us, and the inspiration of President Masaryk in our hearts, let us vow to move relentlessly toward that great goal. Let us dedicate ourselves to ensuring that the United States and the Czech Republic will never again be divided by any force or power. We will always stand together. And by so doing assure for the people of both our countries a future of ever-increasing security and prosperity, justice and peace.
(In Czech) Truth will prevail.
Thank you again for your attention, and thank you so much.
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