Speaking at the opening ceremony of Forum 2000 in Prague on Sunday evening, Burma’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi compared her country’s state of transition to that of her host’s some 30 years before.
“It’s not going to be easy and we have just started out,” she told the conference. “I have repeatedly spoken out against over-optimism, because that could make us complacent.”
In a glowing tribute to former Czech and Czechoslovakian President Václav Havel, Suu Kyi praised her late fellow Nobel laureate as a “true friend of Burma” and someone who “knew the value of freedom.”
She continued: “We have to forge ahead with our eyes open, recognising the difficulties that lie in our path, and facing the truth as President Václav Havel would have wished us to do.”
Warning against “blind optimism” in Burma’s process of democratic reform, Suu Kyi noted that the country was rich in natural resources but that its people were poor.
“We want them to be rich in hope,” she said.
The Burmese pro-democracy icon, who was the keynote speaker at the conference, was greeted with a standing ovation as she took the stage and when she completed her speech.
The Forum 2000 Foundation states its purpose as pursuing “the legacy of Václav Havel by supporting the values of democracy and respect for human rights, assisting the development of civil society, and encouraging religious, cultural and ethnic tolerance.”