Less than 20 years old, the Czech Republic sprang into being following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. For most of their modern history, the Czech people had to share their government and nation with the Slovaks in the old Czechoslovakia. Almost half of Czechoslovakia’s history was dominated by the old Soviet Union, which maintained strong control over most of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. An attempt to pull away from Soviet control in 1968 produced the Prague Spring, which was short-lived and forcibly crushed. Once the Soviet Union fell apart, Czech and Slovak leaders decided to go their separate ways and create two independent nations in the 1993. Since that time, the US has courted Czech leaders and established a strong economic and military relationship. With the help of American officials, the Czech Republic joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999, and in 2008, the Czech government signed an agreement with the US government, to build a radar station in the republic as part of an anti-ballistic missile system that the Bush administration badly wanted. Both of these moves have been vehemently opposed by Russia, which sees the military alliance between the Czech Republic and the West as a threat to Russian security.
Lay of the Land: The Czech Republic is located in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west, Poland to the North, Slovakia to the east and Austria to the south.
Millions of Americans have their roots in Bohemia and Moravia, and a large community in the United States has strong cultural and familial ties with the Czech Republic. President Woodrow Wilson and the United States played a major role in the establishment of the original Czechoslovak state on October 28, 1918. President Wilson’s 14 Points, including the right of ethnic groups to form their own states, were the basis for the union of the Czechs and Slovaks. Tomáš Masaryk, Czechoslovakia’s first president, visited the United States during World War I and worked with American officials in developing the basis of the new country. Masaryk used the US Constitution as a model for the first Czechoslovak constitution.
The US government views relations with the Czech Republic as “excellent.” The Czech Republic has made contributions to international allied coalitions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. In early 2008, the Czech Republic established a 200-person Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Logar Province, Afghanistan. In addition, an Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT) was deployed to work alongside the Afghanistan National Air Corps. The deployment of this Czech OMLT complements the ongoing donation of 12 Czech military helicopters to Afghanistan, six of which have been delivered. Additionally, the Czechs will redeploy a Special Forces unit to Afghanistan for a third time as well as a 65-person security detachment to support Dutch forces.
The US imports from the Czech Republic considerably more than it exports. Some of the top purchases in 2007 were electric apparatus and parts ($183 million), automotives parts and accessories ($162.3 million), parts for civilian aircraft ($150 million) and iron and steel products ($101 million). Altogether, the US imported $2.43 billion in goods from the Czech Republic.
Anti-Missile Pact Draws Russian Ire
State Department officials say there exist in the Czech Republic problems with both law enforcement and judicial corruption, and high-level political intervention sometimes resulted in investigations being prematurely closed or reassigned to other jurisdictions. According to the 2007 State Department report, there were some reports of police mistreatment of detainees and official tolerance of inmate-on-inmate abuse in one prison. There were reports that police failed to provide detainees access to an attorney. Child abuse and trafficking in persons for sexual exploitation and forced labor continued to be problems. Random violence, rallies, and vandalism by neo‑Nazis and skinhead groups against Roma (aka Gypsies) occurred throughout the year. Societal discrimination against minorities, especially Roma, continued, and a lack of equitable education, housing, and employment opportunities for Roma persisted.
Adrian A. Basora
Appointment: Jun 15, 1992
Presentation of Credentials: Jul 20, 1992
Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 15, 1995
Petr Kolář has served as the ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States since December 2, 2005. Kolar attended Charles University in Prague, majoring in information technology and library science, and ethnography. He graduated in 1986. He performed post-graduate studies in 1991 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC, and in 1992 at the University of London, Institute of Historical Research.
Richard W. Graber has served as US Ambassador to the Czech Republic since September 23, 2006. Graber received his undergraduate degree from Duke University in 1978 and his law degree from Boston University in 1981.