Bush Rocks the Czernin Palace At Prague Democracy Conference

President Bush rocked the Czernin Palace in Prague today.
The dissidents at the Democracy and Security Conference claimed he was the first president ever to travel half to the globe to come and be with a group of political dissidents.

Masked Czech Secret Service agents prepare for the Bush visit in Prague. The pro-American NATO country was very excited that Bush was making a visit….

The political dissidents in attendance at the Democracy & Security Conference were given special seating in the first five rows during the democracy speech by President Bush. The dissidents were from 17 different countries and President Bush took a couple of minutes to shake hands with the front row after his speech. The president also had a private meeting with the dissidents in a back room at the Czernin Palace Hall. They each left the private session with a gift.

** HERE is a list of participants and dissidents attending the conference.

Cameras were set up in rows for his freedom speech in Prague.

The president was interrupted several times during his speech by applause from those in attendance. Here are excerpts from his powerful speech on democracy and freedom, from the White House website:

In this room are dissidents and democratic activists from 17 countries on five continents. You follow different traditions, you practice different faiths, and you face different challenges. But you are united by an unwavering conviction: that freedom is the non-negotiable right of every man, woman, and child, and that the path to lasting peace in our world is liberty. (Applause.)

This conference was conceived by three of the great advocates for freedom in our time: Jose Maria Aznar, Vaclav Havel, and Natan Sharansky. I thank them for the invitation to address this inspiring assembly, and for showing the world that an individual with moral clarity and courage can change the course of history.

It is fitting that we meet in the Czech Republic — a nation at the heart of Europe, and of the struggle for freedom on this continent. Nine decades ago, Tomas Masaryk proclaimed Czechoslovakia’s independence based on the “ideals of modern democracy.” That democracy was interrupted, first by the Nazis and then by the communists, who seized power in a shameful coup that left the Foreign Minister dead in the courtyard of this palace.

The most powerful weapon in the struggle against extremism is not bullets or bombs — it is the universal appeal of freedom. Freedom is the design of our Maker, and the longing of every soul. Freedom is the best way to unleash the creativity and economic potential of a nation. Freedom is the only ordering of a society that leads to justice. And human freedom is the only way to achieve human rights.

Expanding freedom is more than a moral imperative — it is the only realistic way to protect our people in the long run. Years ago, Andrei Sakharov warned that a country that does not respect the rights of its own people will not respond to the rights of its neighbors. History proves him right. Governments accountable to their people do not attack each other. Democracies address problems through the political process, instead of blaming outside scapegoats. Young people who can disagree openly with their leaders are less likely to adopt violent ideologies. And nations that commit to freedom for their people will not support extremists — they will join in defeating them.

For all these reasons, the United States is committed to the advance of freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism. (Applause.) And we have a historic objective in view.

In my second inaugural address, I pledged America to the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. Some have said that qualifies me as a “dissident president.”

If standing for liberty in the world makes me a dissident, I wear that title with pride. (Applause.)

Bush got back to talking freedom in Prague today.

President Bush also urged valued US partners like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to move toward freedom and called out several regimes by name including: Belarus, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Zimbabwe- and Syria, and Venezuela.

President Bush left the dissidents with this:

“I leave Prague with a certainty that the cause of freedom is not tired, and that its future is in the best of hands. With unbreakable faith in the power of liberty, you will inspire your people, you will lead your nations, and you will change the world.”

It was a powerful moment.

Previously:
Prague Blogging- 2007 Democracy & Security Conference
Blogging From the Communist Parliament Building
A Night Out With Jose Maria Aznar, Vaclav Haval & Natan Sharansky
Senator Joe Lieberman Gets Personal in Prague
Democracy & Security: Has Democracy Reached an Impasse?
Democracy & Security: Does Democratization Mean Security?

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