- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

Text of President Barack Obama’s remarks in Prague, Czech Republic, on Sunday, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House.

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Thank you for this wonderful welcome. Thank you to the people of Prague. And thank you to the people of the Czech Republic. Today, I am proud to stand here with you in the middle of this great city, in the center of Europe. And _ to paraphrase one my predecessors _ I am also proud to be the man who brought Michelle Obama to Prague.

I have learned over many years to appreciate the good company and good humor of the Czech people in my hometown of Chicago. Behind me is a statue of a hero of the Czech people _ Tomas Masaryk. In 1918, after America had pledged its support for Czech independence, Masaryk spoke to a crowd in Chicago that was estimated to be over 100,000. I don’t think I can match Masaryk’s record, but I’m honored to follow his footsteps from Chicago to Prague.

For over a thousand years, Prague has set itself apart from any other city in any other place. You have known war and peace. You have seen empires rise and fall. You have led revolutions in the arts and science, in politics and poetry. Through it all, the people of Prague have insisted on pursuing their own path, and defining their own destiny. And this city _ this Golden City which is both ancient and youthful _ stands as a living monument to your unconquerable spirit.

When I was born, the world was divided, and our nations were faced with very different circumstances. Few people would have predicted that someone like me would one day become an American president. Few people would have predicted that an American president would one day be permitted to speak to an audience like this in Prague. And few would have imagined that the Czech Republic would become a free nation, a member of NATO and a leader of a united Europe. Those ideas would have been dismissed as dreams.

We are here today because enough people ignored the voices who told them that the world could not change.

We are here today because of the courage of those who stood up _ and took risks _ to say that freedom is a right for all people, no matter what side of a wall they live on, and no matter what they look like.

We are here today because of the Prague Spring _ because the simple and principled pursuit of liberty and opportunity shamed those who relied on the power of tanks and arms to put down the will of the people.

We are here today because twenty years ago, the people of this city took to the streets to claim the promise of a new day, and the fundamental human rights that had been denied to them for far too long. Sametova revoluce _ the Velvet Revolution taught us many things. It showed us that peaceful protest could shake the foundation of an empire, and expose the emptiness of an ideology. It showed us that small countries can play a pivotal role in world events, and that young people can lead the way in overcoming old conflicts. And it proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon.

That is why I am speaking to you in the center of a Europe that is peaceful, united and free _ because ordinary people believed that divisions could be bridged; that walls could come down; and that peace could prevail.

We are here today because Americans and Czechs believed against all odds that today could be possible.

We share this common history. But now this generation _ our generation _ cannot stand still. We, too, have a choice to make. As the world has become less divided it has become more interconnected. And we have seen events move faster than our ability to control them _ a global economy in crisis; a changing climate; the persistent dangers of old conflicts, new threats and the spread of catastrophic weapons.

None of these challenges can be solved quickly or easily. But all of them demand that we listen to one another and work together; that we focus on our common interests, not our occasional differences; and that we reaffirm our shared values, which are stronger than any force that could drive us apart. That is the work that we must carry on. That is the work that I have come to Europe to begin.

To renew our prosperity, we need action coordinated across borders. That means investments to create new jobs. That means resisting the walls of protectionism that stand in the way of growth. That means a change in our financial system, with new rules to prevent abuse and future crisis. And we have an obligation to our common prosperity and our common humanity to extend a hand to those emerging markets and impoverished people who are suffering the most, which is why we set aside over a trillion dollars for the International Monetary Fund earlier this week.

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