Jan Hamáček, photo: ČTK/AP/Frank Franklin II
In his speech he expressed support for reform of the UN, reiterated
Prague’s commitment to human rights – and referenced one of the most
traumatic events in modern Czech history.
“The experience of the 1968 invasion still resonates strongly, not only
in the Czech Republic, as the moment where many people lost faith in the
promises of a better world preached by the Soviet Union.
“This seemingly historical event, however, carries lessons still relevant
today and echoes in incidents which are still occurring in the world around
Mr. Hamáček additionally highlighted another key date for the Czech
“This year we also celebrate the centennial of our modern statehood and
independence, as Czechoslovakia was born in the crucible of the first world
war in 1918.
“The same must also be true about the United Nations.”
On Friday you were in Chicago for celebrations of the centenary of the
foundation of Czechoslovakia. Could you please tell us what were the
highlights of your visit to Chicago, which I suppose is the city outside
the Czech Republic with perhaps the strongest Czech connections?
“President Masaryk had strong links to Chicago to the Crane family
[millionaire Charles Richard Crane was a supporter of Masaryk’s and
sponsored Mucha’s Slav Epic]. When President Beneš fled after the Munich
Agreement he found a place at the University of Chicago.
Tell us about your meetings with those people, who were the grandchildren
[Charlotta Kotik is actually the great-granddaughter of T.G. Masaryk] I
guess of people who were extremely important in the early days of
“They are our great supporters and again without them, then and today, it
would be impossible for us to operate on the level that we are operating on
in the US at the moment.”
Czech Centennial Gala, photo: archive of Czech Foreign Ministry
Ties between Czechs and Americans were very strong 100 years ago and also
in the 1990s after the Velvet Revolution. What’s your sense of where
Czech-American relations are today?
“I would say nothing has changed substantially. We are members of NATO
and both the Czech Republic and the US believe in a strong transatlantic
link and we are doing our utmost to keep this link as strong as possible.
“I think that we in the Czech Republic understand that without the US
there wouldn’t have been an independent Czechoslovakia. And the US
understands that in the Czech Republic it has a strong and reliable
“Not at all.”