PRAGUE, March 27 -- Britain's Queen Elizabeth II reaffirmed her government's support for enlargement of the European Union and NATO to a second Central European aspirant Wednesday, during a dinner hosted by Czech President Vaclav Havel. 'We strongly support the enlargement of the European Union and NATO. We welcome your aspirations to join these institutions,' she said in a toast on the evening of the first day of her visit to the Czech Republic. She had delivered the same message the previous day in Poland, emphasizing that such aspirations 'cannot be subject to a veto by any other country.' The queen's address was full of historical allusions to bilateral relations, including relationships between her ancestors and those of monarchs in the ancient Czech lands. She also frankly referred to the nadir in relations in 1938, when the British and French governments agreed to Adolf Hitler's demands in Munich for the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, despite treaties of mutual aid. 'The events which brought it (the Czechoslovak state) to an end are the only shadow over our relationship, and Iunderstand and sympathize with the feelings in this country over the Munich agreement,' she said. But the queen also mentioned the Czechoslovak soldiers and airmen who participated in the crucial Battle of Britain, and compared them to the Czech soldiers of today in Bosnia for the cause of peace. Elizabeth noted the death last month of Havel's wife, Olga, saying, 'We are only sad that your wife is no longer with us the grace the occasion.'
Havel's speech was also interspersed with history, and emphasized the historical context of the queen's visit. 'The British crown shall never cease to be a symbol of a glorious and steadfast tradition which has maintained its irreplaceable significance even in hurried and tumultuous times,' he said. The queen arrived in the Czech capital from Krakow, Poland, and was welcomed by Havel in Prague Castle, the official presidential quarters that overlooks the city. They traveled together to the center of town and strolled in glorious spring weather along the 14th-century Charles Bridge, which spans the Vltava River and connects the two halves of the city -- a contrast to the sudden snowstorm encountered hours earlier in Krakow. The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, will visit Brno Thursday, where she will make a major address at the town hall. The royal couple will complete their tour of Prague on Friday before returning to London. The morning events in Krakow was arranged to ensure maximum exposure of the queen to the public, although security remained strict during her first foreign visit since the Irish Republican Army resumed its bombing campaign in Britain last month. 'The queen was very pleased that she found time to see the ancient capital and meet people,' a Buckingham Palace spokesman in Krakow said, after the royal couple visited historic Cloth Hall in the main square and witnessed the Trumpeter of Krakow blow his hourly melody from the tower of St. Mary's Church, a tradition for 600 years. In one setback, her speech Tuesday to the Polish Parliament caused a brouhaha in the British press when a sentence was inadvertently dropped from her own text that referred to the suffering of the Polish people and Polish Jews during World War II. A palace official said the omission was purely accidental, and noted that she had displayed those sentiments earlier during her visit. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski called her three-day stay a very important visit. 'It was also a visit stressing British support for Polish ambitions and aspirations, which was expressed when the queen underscored in the Sejm (parliament) that Poland needs Europe, and that Europe needs Poland,' he said.