On October 28, the Czech Republic celebrated its National Day as we commemorated the 95th anniversary of the founding of independent Czechoslovakia. The Embassy, along with American Friends of the Czech Republic and the Friends of Slovakia, organized a wreath-laying ceremony at the statue of first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk followed by a reception. Below, you will find Ambasador Gandalovic´ remarks reflecting on the Czech-US relations.
It is my privilege to welcome you at this reception to commemorate Czech National Day and the 95th anniversary of the founding of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918.
As much as we have regard for the tradition of democratic pre-war Czechoslovakia and honor the legacy of the President and Founder Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, it is our contemporary history and our deeds in the last two decades that matter the most for our children and us. In less than a month, we will celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which freed us from communism and surely we will very much remember its leader and the then first freely elected President Václav Havel. I am very proud that this year our Embassy has organized a rich program to honor the late President via theMutual Inspirations Festival 2013 - Václav Havel, which culminated with the installation of the Václav Havel Place on Georgetown University’s campus. I can also proudly inform you that President Obama acknowledged this program in the very heartfelt note he sent to us.
Only three years after the Velvet Revolution, the Czechs and Slovaks made another profoundly historic decision – they resolved to continue on their own and peacefully divided Czechoslovakia into two states. Today, we can proudly say that the Czech Republic and Slovakia, both celebrating their twentieth birthday, are two best friends, two democratic countries fully integrated in the European Union and NATO.
In the Czech Republic, we had elections this weekend and while they resulted in a change of political orientation of the future government I wish to assure you that the fundamental direction of Czech foreign policy will not change. The transatlantic relations and the strong relationship between the Czech Republic and the United States will remain to be one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy. In this relationship, we are being helped and supported by a large number of Czech Americans from all across the US. They are organized in a wide variety of organizations from grassroots ones in small towns to an advocacy organization in Washington.
Recently, Secretary Madeleine Albright was in the highest office held by a Czech American; today, Secretary John Kerry is also acknowledging his Czech connection. In a letter which he has kindly sent to the Embassy to congratulate the Czech Republic on the 95th anniversary of independence, he said: „Ten years ago, I learned that my grandfather was a son of a master brewer from the small town of what is now Horní Benešov...“
I hope that Secretary Kerry will soon have an opportunity to travel to the Czech Republic and further our excellent bilateral relationship as well as taste some of the Czech beer.