On February 12, the American Center hosted a panel discussion on the 25th anniversary of the first visit of President Havel in the U.S. The event was opened by Ambassador Andrew Schapiro who reminded in his opening remarks the great response that President Havel’s speech had in the U.S. Congress and the U.S. media.
Marta Smolíková, Director of Vaclav Havel Library, which co-organized of the discussion, welcomed panelists of the first panel who were in the President Havel’s delegation in the U.S. on February 20—22, 1990: Josef Jařab, former Rector of Palacky University; Alexandr Vondra, former Advisor to President Havel; and Martin Mejstřík, student leader of the Velvet Revolution; and Eda Kriseová, author of Vaclav Havel biography.
The first panel focused on the memories of President Havel’s visit and panelists commemorated highlights of this historical visit — a meeting with George HW Bush in the White House, President Havel’s legendary speech to the Joint Session of the U.S. Congress in which he paradoxically requested U.S. assistance to Russia on its way to democracy, and a celebration “American Tribute to Vaclav Havel” held in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.
The second panel moderated by journalist Jan Macháček addressed the current relations between the Czech Republic and the USA. The speakers included journalists Daniel Anýž and Veronika Bednářová, and political scientists and Jiří Pehe.