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Czech Republic: End Old Thinking, Peres Tells Forum 2000

By Jeremy Bransten and Jolyon Naegele

Prague, 4 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Former Israeli Labor Party prime minister Shimon Peres told Prague's Forum 2000 today that although the 21st century is upon us, mankind insists on remaining stuck in the 20th century.

But Peres said this will soon have to change, adding that he believes the 21st century "will not be a continuation of history but a divorce from it."

Peres said it is time to give up old ways of thinking and realize that formerly important things, such as the size of one's country or its natural resources or its armies, have little significance. What matters today and will matter in the future, according to Peres, is investment in education and science as well as how open one is to new technologies.

Peres pointed out that today, technology doesn't need a visa and neither do missiles. So, he said, there is no sense in trying to put up physical barriers against outsiders, and even less sense in propping up those barriers with large armies.

"The silver screen of television became more powerful than the Iron Curtain of Communism," he said.

Peres also said that in his opinion the conflict among the world's religions is not a dominant factor. Rather, the real clash is of each religion with the modern age as fundamentalist movements within each faith struggle to come to terms with an entirely new world.

Peres ended by saying that just as our opportunities in this new world have become limitless, so have the dangers. He called on mankind to change its coalitions and strategies, lest our children and grandchildren look back upon us as beings from the stone age.

"I don't have much respect for history," he said. "It is an ongoing tale of bloodshed and we don't have to continue it."