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Czech Republic: Forum 2000 Likely To End Without Final Document

By Jolyon Naegele and Jeremy Bransten

Prague, 5 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Organizers of the Prague Forum 2000 conference of leading intellectual figures say it is unlikely they will issue a final document.

Czech dissident playwright turned president Vaclav Havel and Elie Wiesel, the Romanian-born Jewish novelist and authority on the Holocaust are the main organizers of the three-day conference, which is due to conclude tomorrow evening.

Forum 2000 organizers say that final documents and manifestos of intellectual conferences are rarely, if ever, read -- unlike the appeals and final documents of state conferences.

Another reason for not issuing a manifesto is that despite the apparent harmony and cordiality of the discussions, organizers doubt agreement can be reached on a formulation acceptable to all participants. Moreover, they say it is unlikely the press would publish the text. Participants say they do disagree on some issues, such as Havel's world view, but that the conference has been free of tension and animosity.

Nevertheless, participants yesterday set up an advisory committee to try to make the Forum 2000 conference a regular event in Prague at which leading thinkers -- politicians, political scientists, sociologists, environmentalists, futurologists, writers and artists -- from around the world would gather occasionally to exchange views. Some say the next meeting in Prague could be more specifically oriented and could also involve the participation of university students and businessmen.

Participants also say they hope to rectify the clear shortage of female participants at the current conference, where women constitute only one tenth of attendees. They say many more women were invited but were unable to attend.

Organizers say two events have cast a shadow over the conference -- the death last Sunday of Princess Diana and yesterday's bombings in Jerusalem. Some participants are leaving early to attend Diana's funeral in London tomorrow. And after the news of the Jerusalem bombings, organizer Wiesel persuaded Palestinian Authority representative and conference participant Leila Shah to say a few words of sympathy for the victims.