Martin Bútora, honorary president of the Institute for Public Affairs, and former Slovak Ambassador to the USA, participated at the seminar in The Hague dedicated to the events of 1968 and consequences of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. His presentation was entitled The Impact of the Czechoslovak Crisis in 1968 on Slovak Foreign Policy Thinking after the Fall of Communism.
The seminar Czechoslovak Crisis: Lessons Learned. Commemorating 40 years Prague Spring (1968) took place in the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael with the support of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Hague and in partnership with the Embassy of Slovak Republic. Both - H.E. Oksana Tomová, Ambassador of the Slovak Republic and H.E. Dr. Petr Mareš, Ambassador of the Czech Republic attended the prestigious event.
“The crisis of Czechoslovakia and its split was one of factors that influenced the foreign policy direction after the fall of communism in 1989 and also after the establishment of independent Slovakia in 1993”, Mr. Bútora pointed out. “Generation of the leaders of Slovak November 1989, representing the original core of the movement Public against Violence, was firmly convinced that Slovakia’s embedment in the West is essential.”
“Twenty years after November 1989, it is clear – and current domestic political situation as well as re-assertive Russian’s behavior are evidences, that in addition to three principal major challenges after 1989, i.e. establishing democracy, market economy and solving the issue of state-legal set-up, there should have been added one more, as important as those three – anchoring of the new democracy in the Western security system”, argued Martin Bútora.
A lively discussion, which followed after the speeches, was not devoted only to the personal memories of present diplomats and to historical reflection of Czechoslovak events of 1968, but also to the current topics, especially to the difficulties caused by the Russian intervention in Georgia.
Martin Bútora brightened his talk about 1968 with a contemporary photograph of a then student magazine Echo.
A block of speakers Alexander Vondra, Deputy Prime Minister of the Czech Republic (first from the right), Ian de Jong, director general for the European cooperation of the Dutch Ministry of foreign affaires (second from the right) and Martin Bútora, was hosted by Tiddo Pieter Hofstee, former Dutch ambassador in Moscow (second from the left).
The seminar entitled “Czechoslovak Crisis: Lessons Learned. Commemorating Prague Spring 1968“, took place in the well-known Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, in Haag.