From Foreign Policy: I think that America has not forgotten us, but it should still take into account that the terrain here in Central Europe is somewhat more explosive than other areas of conflict elsewhere in the world. World wars start here, not in Iran or Korea or anywhere else.

But I have not yet observed that America is losing interest in us as allies. If she has decided that she will replace one anti-ballistic missile system with another, that is her expert decision and should not be seen as American lack of interest in the region — that would be a somewhat rash and sentimental way of thinking.

But as far as Russia is concerned, many of my talks with Russian personalities plus my visits to Moscow confirm to me that what is being born there is a special new type of manipulative democracy, or some new type of dictatorship that is far more sophisticated than communism.

You can see it in Russia’s inconspicuous efforts to re-establish its spheres of influence. Of course, no great Russian armies are being raised for this purpose anymore, but it is being attempted by various pressures, political and economic. Their large companies are slowly buying our firms, and their economic might is growing and related to that, their political influence.

We certainly don’t need conflicts with Russia. We must deal with her like with any other partner. But we definitely have to know how to say what we think, but we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated. When they tell us that they will not give us gas or oil, then we will have to learn how to tell them, “you can keep it.” It would be better to use less light and less heat than to allow them to blackmail us.

Excerpt from Interview of Vaclac Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, by Susan Glasser/Foreign Policy. (photo: Dennis Cook/AP)