The Czech Republic’s minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, bestowed Medals of Merit for Diplomacy on 12 individuals on Monday. Nine of them, including the late Jiří Dientsbier, the country’s first post-communist foreign minister, received the honour for helping advance diplomacy and foreign policy in the period since the Velvet Revolution.
The other three honorees – including the late Klaus Kinkel, who was a German foreign minister in the 1990s – were recognised for their contribution to Czech-German relations.
Mr. Petříček told those gathered at the ministry’s grand Černín Palace that it was thanks to the country’s post-1989 diplomatic service that the Czech Republic was today a sovereign, prosperous country surrounded by friendly states.
Alongside Dienstbier, the Slovak diplomat and actress Magda Vášáryová and seven Czechoslovak/Czech post-1989 ambassadors, including the long-time ambassador to Germany and Austria, Jiří Gruša (also awarded in memoriam) were recognised for the development of the post-revolution Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Klaus Kinkel contributed to the drafting of the Czech-German Declaration, which in the 1990s significantly contributed to the improvement of the mutual relations of both countries.
Felix Kolmer and Tomáš Kosta, survivors of Nazi concentration camps who were involved in the process of reconciliation between Czechs and Germans, were also honoured for their contribution to relations between the two nations.
Medals of Merit for Diplomacy were presented to former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg and a former Czech ambassador to NATO, Karel Kovanda, who had been named awardees in March this year but were unable to receive them at that time.
The Medal of Merit for Diplomacy was created at the end of 2018. It goes to individuals who have significantly contributed to the development of relations between the Czech Republic and other countries.
In the first such ceremony, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented medals to 14 personalities this March on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Czech accession to NATO.