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Clinton Says Transition From Communism 'Impressive'

Bill Clinton speaking in Prague on 11 November (AFP) Prague, 12 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton says the transition from communism to democracy has been "enormous and immensely impressive" in the Baltic states, central Europe, and even in southeast Europe, RFE/RL reported.

Clinton spoke in Prague on 11 November on the second day of the annual Club of Madrid conference of former heads of state or government focusing on democracy in the post-communist world.

Clinton said the Serbian province of Kosovo is now going through a "critical period" with talks expected to start soon aimed at settling the future status of the territory. He also said efforts must continue to support development of a genuine democracy in Serbia.

"I supported your freedom and I still do," Clinton told RFE/RL. "And I think it's very important now that we maintain both order in Kosovo and respect for the legitimate rights of all people, including the minorities. What the Serbs did to the Kosovar Albanians was terrible, but the Kosovar Albanians should not now respond in kind. We should all find a way to live together, work together and go forward together."

Clinton also said he was in favor Turkish membership of the European Union because Turkey could become a gateway to the Middle East.

In his remarks at the meeting, former Czech President Vaclav Havel urged the support of pro-democracy movements and dissidents in Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar, and North Korea.

(with material from AP)