10 APRIL 2002

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Cartoon this week: S.O.S.

Editorial by Saviour Balzan

A man not to be forgotten

Vaclav Havel is no spectacular statesman. He is, in fact, too subdued to be a real life statesman. And yet he stands out as an intellectual who should be remembered for his contribution to accelerating the demise of communism.

As the crumbling communist system forced more people to desperation, little men and women across the land stood up to be counted.

It was not futile attempt. Yet, it was hard and many people suffered tremendously.

Havel was not really interested in politics, but when democracy swept through the central European state, his culture of dissidence and his prose for freedom swept him to fame and responsibility.

Those who followed Havel’s writings and tribulations welcomed the man to our small nation. We have never suffered as much as the Czech people, who have had a taste of occupation, cruelty and false democracy.

Yesterday he spoke briefly at a state luncheon hosted by the Prime Minister.

There was a special short delivery to the guests assembled and, indeed, he did not look or sound like a politician - which made it all the more special.

He spoke of two countries, one on the central European continent and one in the central Mediterranean. Both had experienced the geo-political interests and tensions of the region. And this is what probably made them so special, he said.

These two countries had a lot to offer he said, to the international community and to the European Union.

Meeting the man brings back memories of those sleepless nights when one would read through his books and dream of ways of expressing solidarity to the sufferings of his people.

The Czech Republic experience has an affinity to Malta for a number of reasons. Firstly there is the question of accession to the European Union, both countries wish to be there before anyone else and are the front runners in this race.

The second reason is linked to investment. Maltese companies, most notably the Cornithia Group of Companies, have invested heavily in the hotel business in the Czech republic.

All the more reason for us to extend a warm welcome to Havel to our small republic.

Palestinians should be supported

The interview by Ehud Gol to The Times should be treated with disdain. Our political leaders are correct in supporting the Palestinians. Perhaps, the Palestinian shawl incident ignored protocol, but then why all the fuss?

Our political leaders were also correct in walking in a demonstration organised by the Palestinian community.

The Israelis have crossed the border far too often to be afforded any sympathy. They have reduced the Palestinian peoples to a poverty stricken, desperate, angry and frustrated people.

Mr Gol, a rough-speaking ambassador based in Rome, talks of no demonstrations for the Israelis killed in the terrorist attacks.

Well then, there are hardly any Israelis living in Malta, or Jews for the matter. Unlike the Palestinians, who have no homeland.

Furthermore, Mr Gol, does not ask why a 18 year-old girl chooses to blow herself up.

As George Bush correctly said, it is the humiliation that should be stopped.

For every Israeli killed, the Palestinians have lost many more. Too many to count. They have no freedom and no voice.

Israel is doing to others, what others did to them. They are serving the Palestinians with a genocide pass. They have the firepower to do it and the science of war has strangely inculcated their psyche.

They are destabilising the region, threatening the world economy with their actions and pushing Arab states to do the inevitable - halting oil production. Their cruel ways crystallise extremism.

And when this happens our economic situation can only deteriorate further.


Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt