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Text of Remarks by Ambassador Madeleine Albright


Thank you very much. As someone who was born in Prague, it is a great pleasure to visit the new headquarters of Radio Free Europe in this city. And you can only imagine what a special feeling it is for me to be here with America's spectacular first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and to introduce her to Central Europe's spectacular first city.

It is a special privilege for this Czech-American to introduce the man who did so much to bring this historic broadcasting facility to the Czech Republic and who indeed has done as much as anyone to ensure the survival of Radio Free Europe in the post-Cold War era. That man is Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic.

President Havel is known to RFE listeners. He was the voice of free Europe. He was a leader among those who dissented from Communist rule. He was an architect of the successful transition to democracy. He has been and remains one of the great moral leaders and philosophers of our era. And as President Havel knows so well, at the heart of freedom is a commitment to open exchange of information and opinion.

Communists sought to control those ideas and that information. But Radio Free Europe defied them. Those who advocate freedom believe when people are able to think for themselves, to make their own choices, to choose their own leaders and to express themselves politically, culturally and spiritually in their own manner, all of society will benefit. New and exciting ideas will find the soil fertile and grow. Life will be richer and we will find deeper meaning in our own lives and greater communion with others.

No institution has been more effective as an instrument for the full and open transmission of information than Radio Free Europe and no individual has been more eloquent an advocate of freedom or a more insightful instructor of freedom's responsibilities than Vaclav Havel.
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