Prague, 11 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - The following is an English-language translation of the remarks of Romania's President Emil Constantinescu at the Prague headquarters of RFE/RL, Tuesday, March 11.
Before answering your questions, I would like to say a few words. I had the occasion a few minutes ago to speak live from Radio Free Europe to Romanian listeners.
Over the last few years, I addressed the Romanian people many times, and to people who love freedom, justice, democracy from all over the world, by way of a lot of radio stations. But, it was for me - and still is -- a special emotion to be at the headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and to speak in that place from where was broadcast, during the hard times of the Communist years in Romania, information about what was going on in the world, and especially about what was happening in our own country, in reality.
Communism could not exist, but by lies and lack of information. Communism could be torn apart, not by power of arms, but by power of words and especially of real beliefs. That is why Radio Free Europe has been much more important than the armies, the rockets, the most sophisticated equipment. The 'rockets' that have destroyed Communism have been launched from RFE, and this was America's most important investment against the Cold War.
I don't know whether the Americans themselves realize now, seven years after, that it was so, but we understand it well. When the Iron Curtain fell, the curtain of information did not fall as well. So that now, still in America and in many parts of the world, little is known about what is happening in the former Communist states. One sees dim images, things from far away.
The trial of Communism has not been completed yet.
More than that, there is a psychological resistance against starting this trial, and those who do not understand that, risk repeating history. National-Communism, the strongest danger for humanity, can recover, if this process of defeating Communism is not continued in the future.
Unfortunately, many people in the Western world still discuss difficult situations from the present, and forget it is much easier to keep something that is good, that has been built before, as the stable democratic system in Romania, than trying to bring back together something that has been destroyed, as in Bosnia-Herzegovina. That is a lesson we all have to learn without arrogance, from anyone.
That is why I have always considered that this Radio Station is still needed after the fall of Communism, because the experience, which is now underway, during the transition to the market economy and democracy, is unique in the history of humanity. It is not common. It is common for the region, but it enjoys particularities within different countries.
If we would have understood this process better, we would have realized that what is going on in Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Romania means a shared path, in which every one of us is carrying different legacies. It is a shared important experience, but which has very important particularities.
But it also means a lot of peculiarities of each and every country, as each of us carries a heritage and builds in a different way. So we don't just need relations between the Western world and each of our countries, but a better mutual understanding of our mutual experiences. I think RFE with its services, representing all different states, can play an essential role in this fascinating process of history that we are living together.
I have shaken hands with the Romanian service at the front of this building, but I want you to understand that this handshake is meant for every one of you. I am here to pay homage to all who are working or have ever worked at Radio Free Europe and contributed to - through their intellect, their words, their conscience - the fall of Communist dictatorships.
I think the most fitting quote to end this short speech is from Winston Churchill: "rarely have so many people owed so much to so few." Allow me to tell you from my heart - in the name of all the Romanians who fought and have died for democracy, freedom and justice - thank you. Because together we have won a battle for a better society.