President Havel supports the US in its fight against terrorism

Vaclav Havel and George W. Bush, photo: CTK

President Vaclav Havel is on a 6-day trip to the United States, the last one in the post of Czech President. During talks with his US counterpart George W. Bush on Wednesday the two men discussed the necessity of fighting terrorism, and president Bush thanked Mr. Havel for the Czech contribution to these efforts in the form of a field hospital in Afghanistan and an anti-chemical unit in Kuwait. Alena Skodova spoke with Czech Radio's correspondent in the United States, Miroslav Konvalina, and asked him first, what attitude Czech President Vaclav Havel had towards this issue at the White House?

Vaclav Havel and George W. Bush,  photo: CTK
"Czech President Vaclav Havel meeting with president Bush yesterday in the Oval Office called on NATO to ratify its mission to confront a new kind of evil in the international war against terrorism. Mr. Havel's whose nation will host a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in November said that NATO needed to target those, who support terrorism. He said now it is important that NATO is able to re-define itself, to find its new identity in this very changed world, especially now, after September 11 there's a new kind of evil in this world, and it's necessary to face the evil and to fight all who support it, Havel said."

And did he show his support for the US plan to attack Iraq?

"Yes, but he also asked for a resolution from the United Nations and he said that support will be necessary from all the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."

Does president Bush expect any form of help from the Czech Republic?

"I think right now what is important is moral support and help that is most needed in this phase of the campaign, I think the Americans need to stay active and not get to the position when they will have to face Saddam Hussein's requests. He just supports the new resolution which is a proposal exactly what the Americans are trying to get from the Security Council."

President Havel has also met with US Congressmen. What did they talk about?

"They were concerned about Radio Free Europe, and the president said that for him it's a very sensitive issue because he would have been much longer as a political prisoner in jail if there was no help from RFE. He underlined the role of RFE, the Voice of America and the BBC, and said he understands the problem or security concerns surrounding the building in the centre of Prague but he thinks that the government and the station are talking too long and without any result and that the building has to be reconstructed very fast. So he thinks there's time to find a new building but he said it would be very bad for young Czech democracy if we lost Radio Free Europe."