On 17 November 1989, the regime harshly intervened against demonstrations organized by students on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the closure of Czech schools by the Nazis. People came out on the streets in protest and they started demonstrations and strikes.
The communists relinquished political power during the so-called Velvet Revolution. The regime had exhausted itself and didn’t have the strength to engage in a power struggle with the whole of society. Political parties were reinstated and the first free elections were organized in 1990. Václav Havel became president.
The Czech and Slovak political representatives were unsuccessful in finding a suitable bilateral model for the coexistence of the Czech and Slovak nations. This resulted in the organised and orderly break-up of the joint state.
Separate Czech and Slovak Republics have existed since 1 January 1993. Integration with the European community and European security structures became an objective for both states.
The Czech Republic was accepted as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on 12 March 1999. On this day, the Czech foreign minister together with his Polish and Hungarian colleagues received instruments of ratification from the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on their countries’ accession to NATO in the city of Independence in the American state of Missouri. The Czech Republic is not just a formal member of NATO or the UN. Its units have participated in missions to Iraq, Croatia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and many other states.
An affiliation agreement between the Czech Republic and the European Community was concluded on 4 October 1993. This took effect on 1 February 1995. The process of convergence with the European community culminated with the Czech Republic becoming a member of the European Union along with nine other states on 1 May 2004.