Message to the Prague Conference on European Conscience and Communism, June 2008
I am sorry that I cannot be with you as you gather in Prague for your conference on European Conscience and Communism.
As the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain approaches, this is a timely moment to reflect on these momentous events. Let us never forget that the triumph over communism was not merely a physical victory, it was a moral victory also. After almost half a century of oppression in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, freedom prevailed and the structures of state control were dismantled.
Today, some find it all too easy to forget the sufferings of those years. Just as communism had many apologists who sought to blind us its horrors and failures, so there are people who now talk almost nostalgically about the past and deride all that has been achieved over the last two decades.
Our duty is to remember and remind. To forget the past would dishonour all those who fought heroically to resist communism’s evil - it would also place us in danger of repeating its mistakes.
I know that among your speakers are many who distinguished themselves in that great struggle - who better to bear testament to mankind's limitless hope for freedom.
I wish you well in your deliberations.