Ahead of Independence Day in the United States, President Václav Klaus visited an event at the American embassy this week. As he noted, it was the last such occasion that he would attend as head of state, and he took the opportunity to look back on relations between the Czech Republic and the US over the course of his two terms in office.
US President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded the Medal of Freedom to Madeleine Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia and fled the country with her parents to escape the Nazi occupation. She spent some time in England before immigrating to the US in 1948. Albright was the first woman to hold the nation’s top diplomatic post of secretary of state. Among this year’s recipients are John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth, and legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. The Medal of Freedom is America’s highest civilian honor. It is presented to individuals who have contributed to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace or cultural endeavors.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will be meeting with his American counterpart Hillary Clinton at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday. The two are set to discuss the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant. The US company Westinghouse is one of several seeking to win the multi-billon crown tender. On Wednesday, Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra met with his US counterpart Leon Panetta; during the conference the two will sign an agreement allowing Czech weapons manufacturers access to Us Army tenders.
In last week’s From the Archives we featured Martin Luther King, interviewed by Czechoslovak Radio in 1963. But Dr King was not the first civil rights campaigner to address Czech and Slovak radio listeners. Four years earlier, in June 1959, Paul Robeson came to Prague, to take part in an international left-wing cultural congress. Robeson was a man of many talents – singer, actor, athlete, writer and civil rights activist. He never concealed his sympathies with the communist regimes of the Eastern Bloc, and his political views – combined with the
The defence minister also negotiated a treaty in Washington on Tuesday that will allow Czech companies to seek military orders in the United States. The agreement will give Czech contractors an equal position with American and European companies and may be signed in the spring. The treaty will also apply to security and rescue services and will allow Czechs to compete for commissions for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), among others. Poland signed a similar treaty with the United states in September of last year.
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.
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