The early 1960s saw dramatic developments in the Cold War, with the building of the Berlin Wall and then the brinkmanship of the Cuban Missile Crisis. But there were also signs of a greater pragmatism in East-West relations. One channel for dialogue was a series of international gatherings, where scholars and public figures discussed how to reduce the risk of armed conflict. These were known as the Pugwash Conferences, named after the town in Canada where the idea was first launched back in 1957. In September 1964, one such conference was held in
The city of La Grange in Texas, historically a major site of Czech settlement, remains to this day a hub of Czech culture. Those who want to stay in touch with the local Czech community or would like to trace their roots can visit the Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center located in city. Besides offering research facilities, the center also organizes various events – most recently a gala where old Czech bands were honored earlier this month or an exhibition of nativity art which has just opened.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Friday laid wreaths at Washington’s statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, Czechoslovakia’s founder and first president, marking the national holiday. On the second day of his short working visit to the US, Mr Nečas wished Czechs behaved better to each other. On Thursday, the Czech Prime Minister met US President Barack Obama in the White House for talks on issues such as a multi-billion Czech nuclear tender and plans to establish a NATO helicopter training base in the Czech Republic.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas is on a brief working visit to the United States where he will be meeting with US President Barack Obama later on Thursday. The agenda of Mr Nečas’ first visit to the Oval Office will be dominated by the multi-billion tender to expand the Czech Temelín nuclear power plant, in which the US firm Westinghouse is one of the bidders.
In this edition of Czech history, we look at the development of Czech-American relations over the past two decades. Ever since the fall of the Iron Curtain, they have been the pivot of Czech foreign policy. But after the euphoria of the Velvet Revolution and the era of Washington’s fascination with Václav Havel, these relations today are like a 20-year old marriage with no sex – at least according to some current and former diplomats who appeared in Friday’s debate hosted by the Foreign Ministry.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas will travel to the US later this month where he will meet President Barack Obama, the prime minister’s office said on Friday, adding the agenda will include economic and trade relations between their countries. Mr Nečas is scheduled to arrive in the US on October 26 and will meet the US President in the White House the following day. The Czech prime minister will then attend a reception at the Czech embassy in Washington marking the national holiday of October 28 before returning to Prague. The invitation for Mr Nečas, the first since both officials took office, notably omits the Czech head of state, President Václav Klaus, who has met the US president several times at various occasions but was never received an invitation from Mr Obama or his predecessor, George W. Bush, to the White House.
Two Czechs who attempted to cross the US border illegally have been sentenced to 77 days in prison and fined 120 dollars. A third companion who had a travel permit but broke the law in assisting them is still awaiting his verdict. The man and woman, a married couple, had been in the States previously and had been evicted. They tried to cross the border illegally on their bikes while on a visit to the International Peace Garden. All three were apprehended by border guards.
Czech and American officials have organised a commemorative event to mark the tenth anniversary of 9-11 on Sunday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Černínský Palác) at 6 p.m. Headlining the programme will be the classic Czech underground band Plastic People of the Universe. An exhibition of photographs by Jan Šibík showing the aftermath of the attacks in New York will be on display, as will a new exhibit on Czech contributions to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The event is being organised by the Czech Foreign and Defence Ministries in cooperation with the American Center and is open to the public.
Ahead of the upcoming tenth anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, Czech Radio’s Martina Mašková interviewed the US Ambassador to Prague Norman Eisen. In the interview the ambassador is asked about Czech cooperation in the War on Terror, CIA renditions at Czech airports, and al Qaeda. Mr Eisen begins first though by discussing the attacks on that fateful September day, including where he was when the first plane hit.
The American Central Intelligence Agency used Czech airports to carry out extraordinary renditions on at least two occasions in 2004. According to US court documents acquired by Czech Radio, two small jets with diplomatic status landed in Prague in the autumn of that year ferrying terrorism suspects between the United States and sites in the Middle East. The CIA used two external companies to intermediate the transfers. The same planes were also used to transfer prisoners to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Czech politicians have consistently denied any participation on the part of the Czech Republic in the CIA’s clandestine rendition programmes. The US embassy in Prague has thus far refused to comment.
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