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Czech: Havel Calls For Cooperation In Combatting ime

Prague, 10 June 1997 (Joel Blocker) - In Prague today, Czech President Vaclav Havel called on the international community to increase its cooperative efforts to combat growing corruption and organized crime.

Havel said that corruption and organized crime know no international borders.

He said that international cooperation in fighting corruption and organized crime was very important to the Czech Republic, whose borders were opened after the Velvet Revolution in late 1989. The two phenomena, he said, now "affect our republic as well as others."

Under Communism, Havel said, it was what he called "an honor" to undermine the law. But now, he said, citizens must consider it an honor to respect the law. Havel was a leader of the Czech dissident movement that fought Communist rule.

Havel spoke at the opening of a Council of Europe conference on Corruption and organized crime attended by most (35) of the justice ministers of the organization's 40 member states. Observers from the U.S., Canada and Mexico are also present at the meeting.

The two-day conference is expected to endorse concrete measures to combat trans-national crime and corruption. Its recommendations will be submitted to the Council of Europe's second summit meeting, due to be held at its headquarters in Strasbourg in October.