Czech Republic

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Overview
<p>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&rsquo;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.</p>
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Basic Information
<p>&nbsp;<b>Lay of the Land</b>: &nbsp;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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Population</b>: 10.2 million</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Religions</b>: Catholic 56.2%, Protestant 1.0%, Jewish 0.1%, Buddhist 0.1%, non-religious 42.6%.&nbsp;In a recent opinion poll, only 28% claimed to believe in God.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Czech 90.4%, Moravian 3.7%, Slovak 1.9%, other 4%.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Languages</b>: Czech (official) 96.5%, Romani (Carpathian, Sinte) 2.2%, German 0.5%, Polish 0.5%, Bavarian 0.08%, Lower Silesian.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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History
<div>In approximately the 5th Century, Slavic tribes from the Vistula basin settled in the region of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. The Czechs founded the kingdom of Bohemia and the Premyslide dynasty, which ruled Bohemia and Moravia from the 10th to the 16th Century. One of the Bohemian kings, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, made Prague an imperial capital and a center of Latin scholarship.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Czechs lost their national independence to the Hapsburgs Empire in 1620 at the Battle of White Mountain and for the next 300 years were ruled by the Austrian Monarchy. With the collapse of the monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed, encouraged by, among others, US President Woodrow Wilson.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Despite cultural differences, the Slovaks shared with the Czechs similar aspirations for independence from the Hapsburg state and voluntarily united with the Czechs. For historical reasons, Slovaks were not at the same level of economic and technological development as the Czechs, but the freedom and opportunity found in Czechoslovakia enabled them to make strides toward overcoming these inequalities. However, the gap never was fully bridged, and the discrepancy played a continuing role throughout the 75 years of the union.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Although Czechoslovakia was the only east European country to remain a parliamentary democracy from 1918 to 1938, it was plagued with minority problems, the most important of which concerned the country&rsquo;s large German population. Constituting more than 22% of the population and largely concentrated in the Bohemian and Moravian border regions (the Sudetenland), members of this minority, including some who were sympathetic to Nazi Germany, undermined the new Czechoslovak state. Internal and external pressures culminated in September 1938, when France and the United Kingdom yielded to Nazi pressures at Munich and agreed to force Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Germany invaded what remained of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939, establishing a German &ldquo;protectorate.&rdquo; By this time, Slovakia had already declared independence and had become a puppet state of the Germans. Czech Jews and other minorities were rounded up by the Nazis and deported to concentration camps. More than 100,000 Jews lived in the Czech lands in 1939. Only a few thousand remained or returned after the Holocaust in 1945.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>At the close of World War II, Soviet troops overran all of Slovakia, Moravia, and much of Bohemia, including Prague. In May 1945, US forces liberated the city of Plzen and most of western Bohemia. A civilian uprising against the German garrison took place in Prague in May 1945. Following Germany&rsquo;s surrender, some 2.9 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia with Allied approval under the Benes Decrees.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Reunited after the war, the Czechs and Slovaks set national elections for the spring of 1946. The democratic elements, led by President Eduard Benes, hoped the Soviet Union would allow Czechoslovakia the freedom to choose its own form of government. The Czechoslovak Communist Party, which won 38% of the vote, held most of the key positions in the government and gradually managed to neutralize or silence the anti-communist forces. Although the communist-led government initially intended to participate in the Marshall Plan, it was forced by Moscow to back out. The Communist Party seized full control of the government in February 1948.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The communist leadership allowed token reforms in the early 1960s, but discontent arose within the ranks of the Communist Party central committee, stemming from dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the economic reforms, resistance to cultural liberalization, and the desire of the Slovaks within the leadership for greater autonomy for their republic. This discontent resulted in a change in party leadership in January 1968 and in the presidency in March. The new party leader was Alexander Dubček.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After January 1968, the Dubček leadership took practical steps toward political, social and economic reforms. In addition, it called for politico-military changes in the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact and theCouncil for Mutual Economic Assistance. The leadership affirmed its loyalty to socialism and the Warsaw Pact, but also expressed the desire to improve relations with all countries of the world regardless of their social systems.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>A program adopted in April 1968 set guidelines for a modern, socialist democracy that would guarantee, among other things, freedom of religion, press, assembly, speech, and travel. Dubček called it giving socialism &ldquo;a human face.&rdquo; After 20 years of little public participation, the population gradually started to take interest in the government, creating what became known as the &ldquo;Prague Spring&rdquo; of 1968.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The internal reforms and foreign policy statements of the Dubček&rsquo;s leadership created great concern among some other Warsaw Pact governments. On the night of August 20, 1968, Soviet, Hungarian, Bulgarian, East German, and Polish troops invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak government immediately declared that the troops had not been invited into the country and that their invasion was a violation of socialist principles, international law and the UN Charter.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The principal Czechoslovak reformers were forcibly and secretly taken to the Soviet Union. Under Soviet duress, they were compelled to sign a treaty that provided for the &ldquo;temporary stationing&rdquo; of an unspecified number of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia. Dubček was removed as party leader on April 17, 1969, and replaced by another Slovak, Gust&aacute;v Hus&aacute;k. Later, Dubček and many of his allies within the party were stripped of their party positions in a purge that lasted until 1971.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 1970s and 1980s became known as the period of &ldquo;normalization,&rdquo; during which supporters of the 1968 Soviet invasion bolstered the pro-Moscow regime that ruled the country. Political, social and economic life stagnated.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Czechoslovakia&rsquo;s place behind the Iron Curtain lasted until the &ldquo;Velvet Revolution&rdquo; in 1989. V&aacute;clav Havel, a leading playwright and dissident, was elected president of Czechoslovakia in 1989. Havel, imprisoned twice by the communist regime, became an international symbol for human rights, democracy and peaceful dissent. The return of democratic political reform saw a strong Slovak nationalist movement emerge by the end of 1991, which sought independence for Slovakia. When the general elections of June 1992 failed to resolve the continuing coexistence of the two republics within the federation, Czech and Slovak political leaders agreed to separate their states into two fully independent nations. On January 1, 1993, the Czechoslovakian federation was dissolved and two separate independent countries were established&mdash;the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic joined NATO in March 1999.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>President V&aacute;clav Havel left office in February 2003 after 13 years as president. Over the years, Havel lost some of his popularity with the Czechs, who became disenchanted with him as a political leader. In March, V&aacute;clav Klaus became the Czech Republic&rsquo;s second president. A conservative economist, he and Havel often clashed. In May 2004, the Czech Republic joined the European Union (EU). After an inconclusive election in June 2006, the political deadlock was broken in August, with rightist Mirek Topol&aacute;nek appointed prime minister. His government resigned in October after losing a no-confidence vote. He formed another government in January 2007. A year later, Topol&aacute;nek's government narrowly survived another no-confidence vote.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://countrystudies.us/czech-republic/">Czechoslovakia: A Country Study</a> (by Ihor Gawdiak)</div> <div><a href="http://www.czech.cz/en/czech-republic/history/">Czech Republic History</a> (Czech Republic Government website)</div> <div><a href="http://www.traveldocs.com/cz/economy.htm">Czech Economic History</a> (Travel Document Systems)</div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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Czech Republic's Newspapers
<p><a href="http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/czech_re.htm">Czech Republic&rsquo;s Newspapers</a></p>
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History of U.S. Relations with Czech Republic
<p>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&rsquo;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. Tom&aacute;&scaron; Masaryk, Czechoslovakia&rsquo;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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After World War II, and the return of the Czechoslovak government in exile, normal relations with the US continued until 1948, when the communists seized power. Relations cooled rapidly. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 further complicated U.S.-Czechoslovak relations. The United States referred the matter to the UN Security Council as a violation of the UN Charter, but no action was taken against the Soviets.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Since the &ldquo;Velvet Revolution&rdquo; of 1989, bilateral relations between the US and the Czech Republic have improved immensely. President V&aacute;clav Havel, in his first official visit as head of Czechoslovakia, addressed the US Congress and was interrupted 21 times by standing ovations. In 1990, on the first anniversary of the revolution, President George H.W. Bush pledged American support in building a democratic Czechoslovakia. His administration was originally opposed to the idea of Czechoslovakia forming two separate states due to concerns that a split might aggravate existing regional political tensions. However, the US recognized both the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div>As part of their Cold War campaign, the Americans initiated a radio broadcasting operation known as <a href="http://www.rferl.org/">Radio Free Europe </a>(RFE) to broadcast news and entertainment from the west into the Soviet empire.&nbsp;The station began operating from its headquarters in Munich in 1951 as a non-profit organization, funded by the US Congress. After the fall of communism, the Czech Republic&rsquo;s president, V&aacute;clav Havel, proposed to the Americans that RFE transfer its base of operations from Munich to Prague.&nbsp; In 1995 the Czech government officially invited RFE to make the move, offering it the former communist parliament building located directly behind the National Museum in downtown Prague.&nbsp; A symbolic lease of one crown per day (equal to approximately three cents) was offered for the large glass building. When the US decided to accept the offer, many Czechs welcomed the move as a big accomplishment for the new democracy.&nbsp;A few years later, acrimony developed between US and Czech officials over RFE (see Controversies).</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Czech Republic
<p>The US government views relations with the Czech Republic as &ldquo;excellent.&rdquo; 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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Other Czech deployments to Afghanistan include a large military field hospital in Kabul and a Special Purpose Military Police unit operating in Helmand Province. The Czech Republic also is continuing to support other coalition efforts, including providing a maneuver battalion to Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) on a continual rotational basis, as well as a limited number of personnel to Iraq.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In contrast to the US view of bilateral relations, some Czech experts say that the feeling inside the republic is that relations are getting worse.&nbsp;According to one expert, &ldquo;During the 1990s the Czechs were very positive about their cooperation with America, especially as it related to the democratization process.&nbsp;Today, the relationship has not only become more formal in manner, but it seems as if the Americans are becoming more distant.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Also, it remains to be seen how the Czech government will be affected by its decision to allow the US to build a controversial radar base in the country. Russian officials are unhappy with this development, and in light of the recent conflict in Georgia, some believe the Czech government could come under substantial pressure from Moscow for moving so closely to the US.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On July 8, 2008, after lengthy negotiations and much debate, the Czech Republic agreed to allow the United States to deploy on its land an antiballistic missile shield. Russia strongly objected to the accord, viewing the system as a threat. Bush administration officials claimed that the shield was meant to deter an attack from Iran, but few Russians or Czechs were convinced. Czech lawmakers must approve the deal. In the meantime, Czech scientists are moving toward closer collaboration with US institutions. Described by Prime Minister Mirek Topol&aacute;nek as one of the incentives behind hosting the radar base, the cooperation would mean more US funding and collaborative resources for local researchers, ultimately raising the Czech Republic&rsquo;s profile as a world leader in technological development.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Focusing on top local research in fields including nanotechnology, IT and cybernetics, Czech and American scientists are now reviewing Czech research projects to pinpoint viable candidates for collaboration with leading US research institutions.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Some Czech officials have been quick to point out that this collaboration does not mean Czech scientists are &ldquo;selling out&rdquo; to the Pentagon. Rather than buying research projects for specific use, the United States plans to &ldquo;inject funds&rdquo; into promising projects.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 2000 US census reported that 1,262,249 people identified themselves as Czech in the United States. The first major wave of immigration came in the 1850s, as Czechs who had supported the 1848 revolution fled in fear of reprisals from the Austrian Hapsburgs. By the late 1850s, there were 10,000 Czechs in the United States, mainly in Chicago because it was an easily accessible nexus on the rail network. By 1900, there were 199,939 American-born Czechs and 156,640 foreign-born Czechs in the US. Immigration was limited by the National Origins Immigration Act of 1924, although 20,000 managed to escape Nazi persecution and find refuge in the US. Between 1946 and 1975, 27,048 Czechs emigrated to the US, enabled by a relatively open political climate before 1968 and assisted by the American Fund for Czechoslovakia, established with the assistance of Eleanor Roosevelt.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>New York is home to the oldest Czech community in the US. Czechs settled alongside German, Irish, and Norwegians in Wisconsin, and later congregated in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2006, 322,026 Americans visited the Czech Republic. Tourism has grown consistently and dramatically since 2002, when 190,357 Americans traveled to the Czech Republic.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2006, 36,659 Czechs visited the US. The number of tourists has increased sporadically since 2002, when 26,209 Czechs came to America.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.praguepost.com/articles/2008/04/02/r-u-s-scientists-solidify-relations.php">ČR-U.S. scientists solidify relations</a> (by Mark&eacute;ta Hulpachov&aacute;, The Prague Post)</div> <div><a href="http://www.radio.cz/en/article/85969">Czech-U.S. relations dominated by visa, missile defense issues</a> (Radio Praha)</div> <div><a href="http://www.unc.edu/depts/tam/journal/02/capronmarch02.htm">The Status of Radio Free Europe weighs heavily on Czech-American Relations</a> (TransAtlantic Perspectives)</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p>&nbsp;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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, the US only sold $1.26 billion in goods to Czechs in 2007, with no single commodity or product eclipsing the $100 million mark. The best selling US export was computer accessories ($94.3 million), followed by civilian aircraft ($89 million), aircraft parts ($86 million), electric apparatus ($73.8 million) and generators and accessories ($72.2 million).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US sold $21.9 million in defense articles and services to the Czech Republic in 2007. In 2002, the US sold <a href="http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=454&amp;ProgramID=73">$35 million</a> alone in air-to-air missiles, selling 150 Sidewinder missiles, associated equipment and services to the Czech military. In 2003, the Pentagon informed Congress of a pending sale of advanced <a href="http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2004/czech_04-01.pdf">F-16 fighters</a> (PDF) to the Czech Republic valued at $650 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the Clinton administration, the US sold to the Czech Republic almost <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/arms/czech.html">half a billion dollars</a> in military equipment.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US gave $5.1 million in aid to the Czech Republic in 2007, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($3.2 million), and International Military Education and Training ($1.9 million). The 2008 budget estimate reduced aid to $3.3 million. In 2009 the budget request will return aid to former levels at $5.1 million and will divide it between Foreign Military Financing ($3.5 million) and International Military Education and Training ($1.6 million).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c4351.html">Imports from Czech Republic</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c4351.html">Exports to Czech Republic</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64761.htm">Czech Republic: Security Assistance</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101368.pdf">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 458-459)</a> (PDF)</div> <div><a href="http://www.buyusa.gov/czechrepublic/en/118.html">Trade Regulations, Customs and Standards</a> (Buy USA.gov)</div> <div><a href="http://www.mzv.cz/wwwo/default.asp?ido=15698&amp;idj=2&amp;amb=87&amp;ParentIDO=10651">US Businesses in the Czech Republic</a> (Czech Embassy in Washington, DC)</div>
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Controversies
<p>&nbsp;<b>Anti-Missile Pact Draws Russian Ire</b></p> <div>Russia warned the US and the Czech Republic in July 2008 that it would be forced to react with military means if the two countries go ahead with plans for a missile shield. The statement came hours after the US signed an initial deal to base part of Washington&rsquo;s controversial missile defense system in the Czech Republic. Moscow officials said placing the system near Russia&rsquo;s borders could weaken its own defenses. The Russian government had previously threatened to aim its own missiles at any eventual base in Poland or the Czech Republic.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The deal, signed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Prague, allows a tracking radar base to be set up on Czech territory. The Bush administration claimed the shield is designed to counter a threat from Iran, not Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin countered that if that was truly the case, he would agree to the base being put in Russia-friendly Azerbaiajan. However, President Bush insisted on the Czech Republic. The plans remain unpopular in the Czech Republic, while the US has failed to reach agreement with Poland on placing other parts of the system there. The plans involve building the tracking radar system in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. However, if the US cannot get Poland to agree, it may try to place the interceptors in Czech territory. The US wants the sites to be operational by about 2012.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Czech opposition parties have strongly criticized the plans and are calling for a national referendum. The plans will have to be approved by the Czech parliament, where the government would need the votes of the opposition parties to get them through.</div> <div><b><font size="6">&nbsp;</font></b></div> <div>Of the $310 million originally sought by President Bush to begin deployment, Congress approved only $225 million. Furthermore, Congress placed limitations on the funds, which can only be used once bilateral agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic are first reached. Although bilateral agreements are still pending, the Bush Administration announced that it will seek $719 million for FY 2009 to begin deployment of the system.</div> <div><a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7496399.stm">Russia warns over US-Czech shield</a> (BBC News)</div> <div><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/07/08/missile.defense/index.html">U.S.-Czech missile deal raises Russian ire</a> (CNN)</div> <div><a href="http://www.nti.org/f_wmd411/f2d3_31.html">BMD in Eastern Europe: Controversy and Resistance</a> (Center for Nonproliferation Studies)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>US-Czech Tensions over Radio Free Europe </b></div> <div>Following the attacks on 9/11, US intelligence officials discovered that one of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had met with a high-ranking Iraqi diplomat the previous spring in the Czech Republic.&nbsp;American agents quickly focused on Prague and possible links between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s Iraq. At the time, Czech intelligence was already shadowing the Iraqi diplomat, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, for suspicious activities.&nbsp;But in April 2001, just weeks after his meeting with Atta, al-Ani was expelled from the Czech Republic after he was caught taking photos of the Radio Free Europe (RFE) building. Czech intelligence believed that al-Ani may have been casing the building as part of a planned attack on it.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The possibility of an attack placed&nbsp;Prague on high-alert.&nbsp;Four armored personnel carriers were stationed in front of RFE headquarters, along with paratroopers and concrete barriers. These safety measures blocked off a major city artery.&nbsp;Fearing an attack, some Czech officials demanded that the RFE building be moved outside of Prague.&nbsp;The idea was not well received by the Bush administration or RFE officials.</div> <div><a href="http://www.unc.edu/depts/tam/journal/02/capronmarch02.htm">The Status of Radio Free Europe weighs heavily on Czech-American Relations</a> (TransAtlantic Perspectives)</div>
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Human Rights
<p>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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to Human Rights Watch, Czech authorities have failed to adequately protect Roma from the ever-increasing danger of racist attacks. When attacks do occur, Roma are often denied equal treatment before the law, a direct violation of both Czech and international law. The biggest problem stems from the local police, who sometimes display an open sympathy for skinheads, allowing them to hold unauthorized marches and threaten non-ethnic Czechs. Police are often slow to respond to Romani calls for help and hesitant to make arrests, even after a violent attack. In some cases, police themselves have used excessive force against Roma, sometimes causing death. Overall, the Czech record on human rights has been admirable since the 1989 Velvet rRvolution toppled the communist government. But the otherwise laudable reforms of Czech democracy have failed to ensure many basic human rights to the Roma minority. The effects of the citizenship law and the states unwillingness to combat racist violence reveal an undeniable pattern of discrimination along ethnic lines.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100555.htm">U.S. State Department</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/europe-and-central-asia/eastern-europe/czech-republic">Amnesty International</a></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p>Adrian A. Basora<br /> Appointment: Jun 15, 1992<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jul 20, 1992<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 15, 1995</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Jenonne R. Walker<br /> Appointment: Jun 27, 1995<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 31, 1995<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 31, 1998</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John Shattuck<br /> Appointment: Oct 22, 1998<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Dec 10, 1998<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 16, 2000</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Craig Robert Stapleton<br /> Appointment: Aug 7, 2001<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 28, 2001<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 16, 2003</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William J. Cabaniss<br /> Appointment: Oct 6, 2003<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 13, 2004<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 15, 2006</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/10464.htm">Former U.S. Ambassadors to Czech Republic</a></div>
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Czech Republic's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Kolář, Petr

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.

 
Kolář worked from 1986-1987 as a specialist at the Institute for Ethnography and Folklore Studies at the Czechoslovak Academy of Science. From 1987-1988, he held several short-term positions, predominantly as a laborer (porter and cleaner at the Institute for Ethnography and Folklore Studies, loading mail in the Prague Central Station Post Office, and as a scrap yard watchman. 
From 1988-1989, he served in the military. From 1989-1990, he worked as a specialist at the Research Center for Peace and Disarmament Issues of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science. From 1990-1992, he was a researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science.
 
From 1992-1993, Kolář was chief researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Defense in Prague. From January-July 1993, he was a researcher at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, and from July-December a researcher at the Institute for International Relations in Prague.

From December 1993 to 1996, Kolář worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was director of the Department for Czechs Living Abroad and Nongovernmental Relations, and director of the Eastern & Southern Europe Territorial Department for the foreign policy adviser to the foreign minister.
 
From 1996-1998, Kolář served as Czech ambassador to Sweden and from 1998-1999 as adviser for European integration and the Balkans to Václav Havel, president of the Czech Republic. From 1999-2003, Kolář was Czech ambassador to Ireland and from September 2003 to October 2005 he was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bilateral Relations
 

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Czech Republic's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p><a href="http://www.mzv.cz/wwwo/?zu=washington">The Czech Republic&rsquo;s Embassy in the U.S.</a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Czech Republic

Eisen, Norman
ambassador-image

President Barack Obama selected White House ethics lawyer Norman Eisen to be ambassador to the Czech Republic in June 2010, and his Senate confirmation hearing was held on August 5. However, Republican objections, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, blocked a vote on his confirmation. Finally, on December 29, Obama gave Eisen a one-year recess appointment. The position of U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic had been vacant since the day Obama took office.
 
Eisen has no diplomatic experience to speak of, but he does have other qualities going for him—including knowing Barack Obama since law school, and raising substantial sums of money for the president’s 2008 campaign.
 
The son of Eastern European Jewish refugees who survived the Holocaust, Eisen is a first-generation American who grew up in Los Angeles. His mother was born in Czechoslovakia and his father in Poland. In 1975, when Eisen was 14 years old, his father died, and Eisen was forced to drop out of high school to help support his family. Two years later, he returned to school and graduated from Hollywood High School.
 
Eisen went on to Brown University and graduated in 1985. Then he became a civil-rights organizer for the Anti-Defamation League, which focuses on combating anti-Semitism. He later attended Harvard Law School, where he first met Obama.
 
After graduating from law school in 1991, Eisen took a job in Washington with the law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder. During his 17 years with the firm, he handled white-collar criminal cases and congressional investigations. He eventually made partner. In 1998, he co-founded the Kids Computer Workshop to teach computer skills to children in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Washington, DC.
 
In 2003, Eisen co-founded Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog organization that targets corrupt officials.
 
During the 2008 presidential race, Eisen bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama. He also personally donated more than $40,000 to political campaigns, including $4,600 to Obama, $2,300 to Joseph Biden, and $27,350 to the Democratic National Committee.
 
Aside from fundraising, Eisen worked on education policy for the Obama campaign, before turning his attention to ethics reform. He crafted a broad ethics reform plan during the transition and submitted it to Obama for his approval the day after the inauguration. The plan became best known for provisions banning registered lobbyists from taking positions in the administration. It also earned him the nickname “Mr. No.”
 
Eisen’s first official post in the Obama administration was Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform.
 
Eisen is married to Lindsay Kaplan, an associate professor of English at Georgetown University, and the couple has one daughter, Tamar.
 
Norman Eisen (WhoRunsGov)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Czech Republic

Graber, Richard
ambassador-image

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.

 
From 1981 to 2006, Graber was an attorney with Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., one of Wisconsin’s largest law firms. From 2004 to 2006, he served as president and chief executive officer of the firm. While at the firm, his practice focused on business transactions and government relations. 
 
Graber is well connected within the Republican Party. He served as finance chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin from 1993 to 1999 and as secretary from 1991 to 1999. Graber was then elected chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin in June 1999. He was re-elected in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and was one of the longest serving state chairmen in the country.  He served as chairman of the Wisconsin Delegation at the 2004 national convention in New York, was a delegate at the 2000 convention and was an alternate at the 1992 and 1996 conventions.  From 2002 to 2006, Graber served as Wisconsin’s representative on the Republican National Committee’s Rules Committee. 
 
He has also contributed thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, including $2,000 in 2003 to President George W. Bush’s re-election effort.
 

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Overview
<p>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&rsquo;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.</p>
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Basic Information
<p>&nbsp;<b>Lay of the Land</b>: &nbsp;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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Population</b>: 10.2 million</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Religions</b>: Catholic 56.2%, Protestant 1.0%, Jewish 0.1%, Buddhist 0.1%, non-religious 42.6%.&nbsp;In a recent opinion poll, only 28% claimed to believe in God.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Ethnic Groups</b>: Czech 90.4%, Moravian 3.7%, Slovak 1.9%, other 4%.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>Languages</b>: Czech (official) 96.5%, Romani (Carpathian, Sinte) 2.2%, German 0.5%, Polish 0.5%, Bavarian 0.08%, Lower Silesian.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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History
<div>In approximately the 5th Century, Slavic tribes from the Vistula basin settled in the region of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. The Czechs founded the kingdom of Bohemia and the Premyslide dynasty, which ruled Bohemia and Moravia from the 10th to the 16th Century. One of the Bohemian kings, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, made Prague an imperial capital and a center of Latin scholarship.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The Czechs lost their national independence to the Hapsburgs Empire in 1620 at the Battle of White Mountain and for the next 300 years were ruled by the Austrian Monarchy. With the collapse of the monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed, encouraged by, among others, US President Woodrow Wilson.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Despite cultural differences, the Slovaks shared with the Czechs similar aspirations for independence from the Hapsburg state and voluntarily united with the Czechs. For historical reasons, Slovaks were not at the same level of economic and technological development as the Czechs, but the freedom and opportunity found in Czechoslovakia enabled them to make strides toward overcoming these inequalities. However, the gap never was fully bridged, and the discrepancy played a continuing role throughout the 75 years of the union.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Although Czechoslovakia was the only east European country to remain a parliamentary democracy from 1918 to 1938, it was plagued with minority problems, the most important of which concerned the country&rsquo;s large German population. Constituting more than 22% of the population and largely concentrated in the Bohemian and Moravian border regions (the Sudetenland), members of this minority, including some who were sympathetic to Nazi Germany, undermined the new Czechoslovak state. Internal and external pressures culminated in September 1938, when France and the United Kingdom yielded to Nazi pressures at Munich and agreed to force Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Germany invaded what remained of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939, establishing a German &ldquo;protectorate.&rdquo; By this time, Slovakia had already declared independence and had become a puppet state of the Germans. Czech Jews and other minorities were rounded up by the Nazis and deported to concentration camps. More than 100,000 Jews lived in the Czech lands in 1939. Only a few thousand remained or returned after the Holocaust in 1945.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>At the close of World War II, Soviet troops overran all of Slovakia, Moravia, and much of Bohemia, including Prague. In May 1945, US forces liberated the city of Plzen and most of western Bohemia. A civilian uprising against the German garrison took place in Prague in May 1945. Following Germany&rsquo;s surrender, some 2.9 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia with Allied approval under the Benes Decrees.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Reunited after the war, the Czechs and Slovaks set national elections for the spring of 1946. The democratic elements, led by President Eduard Benes, hoped the Soviet Union would allow Czechoslovakia the freedom to choose its own form of government. The Czechoslovak Communist Party, which won 38% of the vote, held most of the key positions in the government and gradually managed to neutralize or silence the anti-communist forces. Although the communist-led government initially intended to participate in the Marshall Plan, it was forced by Moscow to back out. The Communist Party seized full control of the government in February 1948.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The communist leadership allowed token reforms in the early 1960s, but discontent arose within the ranks of the Communist Party central committee, stemming from dissatisfaction with the slow pace of the economic reforms, resistance to cultural liberalization, and the desire of the Slovaks within the leadership for greater autonomy for their republic. This discontent resulted in a change in party leadership in January 1968 and in the presidency in March. The new party leader was Alexander Dubček.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After January 1968, the Dubček leadership took practical steps toward political, social and economic reforms. In addition, it called for politico-military changes in the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact and theCouncil for Mutual Economic Assistance. The leadership affirmed its loyalty to socialism and the Warsaw Pact, but also expressed the desire to improve relations with all countries of the world regardless of their social systems.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>A program adopted in April 1968 set guidelines for a modern, socialist democracy that would guarantee, among other things, freedom of religion, press, assembly, speech, and travel. Dubček called it giving socialism &ldquo;a human face.&rdquo; After 20 years of little public participation, the population gradually started to take interest in the government, creating what became known as the &ldquo;Prague Spring&rdquo; of 1968.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The internal reforms and foreign policy statements of the Dubček&rsquo;s leadership created great concern among some other Warsaw Pact governments. On the night of August 20, 1968, Soviet, Hungarian, Bulgarian, East German, and Polish troops invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak government immediately declared that the troops had not been invited into the country and that their invasion was a violation of socialist principles, international law and the UN Charter.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The principal Czechoslovak reformers were forcibly and secretly taken to the Soviet Union. Under Soviet duress, they were compelled to sign a treaty that provided for the &ldquo;temporary stationing&rdquo; of an unspecified number of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia. Dubček was removed as party leader on April 17, 1969, and replaced by another Slovak, Gust&aacute;v Hus&aacute;k. Later, Dubček and many of his allies within the party were stripped of their party positions in a purge that lasted until 1971.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 1970s and 1980s became known as the period of &ldquo;normalization,&rdquo; during which supporters of the 1968 Soviet invasion bolstered the pro-Moscow regime that ruled the country. Political, social and economic life stagnated.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Czechoslovakia&rsquo;s place behind the Iron Curtain lasted until the &ldquo;Velvet Revolution&rdquo; in 1989. V&aacute;clav Havel, a leading playwright and dissident, was elected president of Czechoslovakia in 1989. Havel, imprisoned twice by the communist regime, became an international symbol for human rights, democracy and peaceful dissent. The return of democratic political reform saw a strong Slovak nationalist movement emerge by the end of 1991, which sought independence for Slovakia. When the general elections of June 1992 failed to resolve the continuing coexistence of the two republics within the federation, Czech and Slovak political leaders agreed to separate their states into two fully independent nations. On January 1, 1993, the Czechoslovakian federation was dissolved and two separate independent countries were established&mdash;the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech Republic joined NATO in March 1999.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>President V&aacute;clav Havel left office in February 2003 after 13 years as president. Over the years, Havel lost some of his popularity with the Czechs, who became disenchanted with him as a political leader. In March, V&aacute;clav Klaus became the Czech Republic&rsquo;s second president. A conservative economist, he and Havel often clashed. In May 2004, the Czech Republic joined the European Union (EU). After an inconclusive election in June 2006, the political deadlock was broken in August, with rightist Mirek Topol&aacute;nek appointed prime minister. His government resigned in October after losing a no-confidence vote. He formed another government in January 2007. A year later, Topol&aacute;nek's government narrowly survived another no-confidence vote.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://countrystudies.us/czech-republic/">Czechoslovakia: A Country Study</a> (by Ihor Gawdiak)</div> <div><a href="http://www.czech.cz/en/czech-republic/history/">Czech Republic History</a> (Czech Republic Government website)</div> <div><a href="http://www.traveldocs.com/cz/economy.htm">Czech Economic History</a> (Travel Document Systems)</div> <p>&nbsp;</p>
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Czech Republic's Newspapers
<p><a href="http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/czech_re.htm">Czech Republic&rsquo;s Newspapers</a></p>
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History of U.S. Relations with Czech Republic
<p>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&rsquo;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. Tom&aacute;&scaron; Masaryk, Czechoslovakia&rsquo;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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>After World War II, and the return of the Czechoslovak government in exile, normal relations with the US continued until 1948, when the communists seized power. Relations cooled rapidly. The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 further complicated U.S.-Czechoslovak relations. The United States referred the matter to the UN Security Council as a violation of the UN Charter, but no action was taken against the Soviets.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Since the &ldquo;Velvet Revolution&rdquo; of 1989, bilateral relations between the US and the Czech Republic have improved immensely. President V&aacute;clav Havel, in his first official visit as head of Czechoslovakia, addressed the US Congress and was interrupted 21 times by standing ovations. In 1990, on the first anniversary of the revolution, President George H.W. Bush pledged American support in building a democratic Czechoslovakia. His administration was originally opposed to the idea of Czechoslovakia forming two separate states due to concerns that a split might aggravate existing regional political tensions. However, the US recognized both the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993.</div> <div><b>&nbsp;</b></div> <div>As part of their Cold War campaign, the Americans initiated a radio broadcasting operation known as <a href="http://www.rferl.org/">Radio Free Europe </a>(RFE) to broadcast news and entertainment from the west into the Soviet empire.&nbsp;The station began operating from its headquarters in Munich in 1951 as a non-profit organization, funded by the US Congress. After the fall of communism, the Czech Republic&rsquo;s president, V&aacute;clav Havel, proposed to the Americans that RFE transfer its base of operations from Munich to Prague.&nbsp; In 1995 the Czech government officially invited RFE to make the move, offering it the former communist parliament building located directly behind the National Museum in downtown Prague.&nbsp; A symbolic lease of one crown per day (equal to approximately three cents) was offered for the large glass building. When the US decided to accept the offer, many Czechs welcomed the move as a big accomplishment for the new democracy.&nbsp;A few years later, acrimony developed between US and Czech officials over RFE (see Controversies).</div>
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Current U.S. Relations with Czech Republic
<p>The US government views relations with the Czech Republic as &ldquo;excellent.&rdquo; 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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Other Czech deployments to Afghanistan include a large military field hospital in Kabul and a Special Purpose Military Police unit operating in Helmand Province. The Czech Republic also is continuing to support other coalition efforts, including providing a maneuver battalion to Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Force (KFOR) on a continual rotational basis, as well as a limited number of personnel to Iraq.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In contrast to the US view of bilateral relations, some Czech experts say that the feeling inside the republic is that relations are getting worse.&nbsp;According to one expert, &ldquo;During the 1990s the Czechs were very positive about their cooperation with America, especially as it related to the democratization process.&nbsp;Today, the relationship has not only become more formal in manner, but it seems as if the Americans are becoming more distant.&rdquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Also, it remains to be seen how the Czech government will be affected by its decision to allow the US to build a controversial radar base in the country. Russian officials are unhappy with this development, and in light of the recent conflict in Georgia, some believe the Czech government could come under substantial pressure from Moscow for moving so closely to the US.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>On July 8, 2008, after lengthy negotiations and much debate, the Czech Republic agreed to allow the United States to deploy on its land an antiballistic missile shield. Russia strongly objected to the accord, viewing the system as a threat. Bush administration officials claimed that the shield was meant to deter an attack from Iran, but few Russians or Czechs were convinced. Czech lawmakers must approve the deal. In the meantime, Czech scientists are moving toward closer collaboration with US institutions. Described by Prime Minister Mirek Topol&aacute;nek as one of the incentives behind hosting the radar base, the cooperation would mean more US funding and collaborative resources for local researchers, ultimately raising the Czech Republic&rsquo;s profile as a world leader in technological development.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Focusing on top local research in fields including nanotechnology, IT and cybernetics, Czech and American scientists are now reviewing Czech research projects to pinpoint viable candidates for collaboration with leading US research institutions.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Some Czech officials have been quick to point out that this collaboration does not mean Czech scientists are &ldquo;selling out&rdquo; to the Pentagon. Rather than buying research projects for specific use, the United States plans to &ldquo;inject funds&rdquo; into promising projects.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 2000 US census reported that 1,262,249 people identified themselves as Czech in the United States. The first major wave of immigration came in the 1850s, as Czechs who had supported the 1848 revolution fled in fear of reprisals from the Austrian Hapsburgs. By the late 1850s, there were 10,000 Czechs in the United States, mainly in Chicago because it was an easily accessible nexus on the rail network. By 1900, there were 199,939 American-born Czechs and 156,640 foreign-born Czechs in the US. Immigration was limited by the National Origins Immigration Act of 1924, although 20,000 managed to escape Nazi persecution and find refuge in the US. Between 1946 and 1975, 27,048 Czechs emigrated to the US, enabled by a relatively open political climate before 1968 and assisted by the American Fund for Czechoslovakia, established with the assistance of Eleanor Roosevelt.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>New York is home to the oldest Czech community in the US. Czechs settled alongside German, Irish, and Norwegians in Wisconsin, and later congregated in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2006, 322,026 Americans visited the Czech Republic. Tourism has grown consistently and dramatically since 2002, when 190,357 Americans traveled to the Czech Republic.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>In 2006, 36,659 Czechs visited the US. The number of tourists has increased sporadically since 2002, when 26,209 Czechs came to America.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.praguepost.com/articles/2008/04/02/r-u-s-scientists-solidify-relations.php">ČR-U.S. scientists solidify relations</a> (by Mark&eacute;ta Hulpachov&aacute;, The Prague Post)</div> <div><a href="http://www.radio.cz/en/article/85969">Czech-U.S. relations dominated by visa, missile defense issues</a> (Radio Praha)</div> <div><a href="http://www.unc.edu/depts/tam/journal/02/capronmarch02.htm">The Status of Radio Free Europe weighs heavily on Czech-American Relations</a> (TransAtlantic Perspectives)</div>
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Where Does the Money Flow
<p>&nbsp;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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Meanwhile, the US only sold $1.26 billion in goods to Czechs in 2007, with no single commodity or product eclipsing the $100 million mark. The best selling US export was computer accessories ($94.3 million), followed by civilian aircraft ($89 million), aircraft parts ($86 million), electric apparatus ($73.8 million) and generators and accessories ($72.2 million).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US sold $21.9 million in defense articles and services to the Czech Republic in 2007. In 2002, the US sold <a href="http://www.cdi.org/program/document.cfm?DocumentID=454&amp;ProgramID=73">$35 million</a> alone in air-to-air missiles, selling 150 Sidewinder missiles, associated equipment and services to the Czech military. In 2003, the Pentagon informed Congress of a pending sale of advanced <a href="http://www.dsca.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2004/czech_04-01.pdf">F-16 fighters</a> (PDF) to the Czech Republic valued at $650 million.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>During the Clinton administration, the US sold to the Czech Republic almost <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/arms/czech.html">half a billion dollars</a> in military equipment.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The US gave $5.1 million in aid to the Czech Republic in 2007, divided between Foreign Military Financing ($3.2 million), and International Military Education and Training ($1.9 million). The 2008 budget estimate reduced aid to $3.3 million. In 2009 the budget request will return aid to former levels at $5.1 million and will divide it between Foreign Military Financing ($3.5 million) and International Military Education and Training ($1.6 million).</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/imports/c4351.html">Imports from Czech Republic</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/product/enduse/exports/c4351.html">Exports to Czech Republic</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/t/pm/64761.htm">Czech Republic: Security Assistance</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/101368.pdf">Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 458-459)</a> (PDF)</div> <div><a href="http://www.buyusa.gov/czechrepublic/en/118.html">Trade Regulations, Customs and Standards</a> (Buy USA.gov)</div> <div><a href="http://www.mzv.cz/wwwo/default.asp?ido=15698&amp;idj=2&amp;amb=87&amp;ParentIDO=10651">US Businesses in the Czech Republic</a> (Czech Embassy in Washington, DC)</div>
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Controversies
<p>&nbsp;<b>Anti-Missile Pact Draws Russian Ire</b></p> <div>Russia warned the US and the Czech Republic in July 2008 that it would be forced to react with military means if the two countries go ahead with plans for a missile shield. The statement came hours after the US signed an initial deal to base part of Washington&rsquo;s controversial missile defense system in the Czech Republic. Moscow officials said placing the system near Russia&rsquo;s borders could weaken its own defenses. The Russian government had previously threatened to aim its own missiles at any eventual base in Poland or the Czech Republic.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The deal, signed by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Prague, allows a tracking radar base to be set up on Czech territory. The Bush administration claimed the shield is designed to counter a threat from Iran, not Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin countered that if that was truly the case, he would agree to the base being put in Russia-friendly Azerbaiajan. However, President Bush insisted on the Czech Republic. The plans remain unpopular in the Czech Republic, while the US has failed to reach agreement with Poland on placing other parts of the system there. The plans involve building the tracking radar system in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland. However, if the US cannot get Poland to agree, it may try to place the interceptors in Czech territory. The US wants the sites to be operational by about 2012.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Czech opposition parties have strongly criticized the plans and are calling for a national referendum. The plans will have to be approved by the Czech parliament, where the government would need the votes of the opposition parties to get them through.</div> <div><b><font size="6">&nbsp;</font></b></div> <div>Of the $310 million originally sought by President Bush to begin deployment, Congress approved only $225 million. Furthermore, Congress placed limitations on the funds, which can only be used once bilateral agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic are first reached. Although bilateral agreements are still pending, the Bush Administration announced that it will seek $719 million for FY 2009 to begin deployment of the system.</div> <div><a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7496399.stm">Russia warns over US-Czech shield</a> (BBC News)</div> <div><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/07/08/missile.defense/index.html">U.S.-Czech missile deal raises Russian ire</a> (CNN)</div> <div><a href="http://www.nti.org/f_wmd411/f2d3_31.html">BMD in Eastern Europe: Controversy and Resistance</a> (Center for Nonproliferation Studies)</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><b>US-Czech Tensions over Radio Free Europe </b></div> <div>Following the attacks on 9/11, US intelligence officials discovered that one of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, had met with a high-ranking Iraqi diplomat the previous spring in the Czech Republic.&nbsp;American agents quickly focused on Prague and possible links between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein&rsquo;s Iraq. At the time, Czech intelligence was already shadowing the Iraqi diplomat, Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, for suspicious activities.&nbsp;But in April 2001, just weeks after his meeting with Atta, al-Ani was expelled from the Czech Republic after he was caught taking photos of the Radio Free Europe (RFE) building. Czech intelligence believed that al-Ani may have been casing the building as part of a planned attack on it.&nbsp;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The possibility of an attack placed&nbsp;Prague on high-alert.&nbsp;Four armored personnel carriers were stationed in front of RFE headquarters, along with paratroopers and concrete barriers. These safety measures blocked off a major city artery.&nbsp;Fearing an attack, some Czech officials demanded that the RFE building be moved outside of Prague.&nbsp;The idea was not well received by the Bush administration or RFE officials.</div> <div><a href="http://www.unc.edu/depts/tam/journal/02/capronmarch02.htm">The Status of Radio Free Europe weighs heavily on Czech-American Relations</a> (TransAtlantic Perspectives)</div>
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Human Rights
<p>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.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>According to Human Rights Watch, Czech authorities have failed to adequately protect Roma from the ever-increasing danger of racist attacks. When attacks do occur, Roma are often denied equal treatment before the law, a direct violation of both Czech and international law. The biggest problem stems from the local police, who sometimes display an open sympathy for skinheads, allowing them to hold unauthorized marches and threaten non-ethnic Czechs. Police are often slow to respond to Romani calls for help and hesitant to make arrests, even after a violent attack. In some cases, police themselves have used excessive force against Roma, sometimes causing death. Overall, the Czech record on human rights has been admirable since the 1989 Velvet rRvolution toppled the communist government. But the otherwise laudable reforms of Czech democracy have failed to ensure many basic human rights to the Roma minority. The effects of the citizenship law and the states unwillingness to combat racist violence reveal an undeniable pattern of discrimination along ethnic lines.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100555.htm">U.S. State Department</a></div> <div><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/europe-and-central-asia/eastern-europe/czech-republic">Amnesty International</a></div>
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors
<p>Adrian A. Basora<br /> Appointment: Jun 15, 1992<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jul 20, 1992<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Jul 15, 1995</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Jenonne R. Walker<br /> Appointment: Jun 27, 1995<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 31, 1995<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Aug 31, 1998</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>John Shattuck<br /> Appointment: Oct 22, 1998<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Dec 10, 1998<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 16, 2000</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Craig Robert Stapleton<br /> Appointment: Aug 7, 2001<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Aug 28, 2001<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post Dec 16, 2003</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>William J. Cabaniss<br /> Appointment: Oct 6, 2003<br /> Presentation of Credentials: Jan 13, 2004<br /> Termination of Mission: Left post, Sep 15, 2006</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><a href="http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/po/com/10464.htm">Former U.S. Ambassadors to Czech Republic</a></div>
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Czech Republic's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Kolář, Petr

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.

 
Kolář worked from 1986-1987 as a specialist at the Institute for Ethnography and Folklore Studies at the Czechoslovak Academy of Science. From 1987-1988, he held several short-term positions, predominantly as a laborer (porter and cleaner at the Institute for Ethnography and Folklore Studies, loading mail in the Prague Central Station Post Office, and as a scrap yard watchman. 
From 1988-1989, he served in the military. From 1989-1990, he worked as a specialist at the Research Center for Peace and Disarmament Issues of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science. From 1990-1992, he was a researcher at the Institute for Contemporary History of the Czechoslovak Academy of Science.
 
From 1992-1993, Kolář was chief researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Defense in Prague. From January-July 1993, he was a researcher at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway, and from July-December a researcher at the Institute for International Relations in Prague.

From December 1993 to 1996, Kolář worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he was director of the Department for Czechs Living Abroad and Nongovernmental Relations, and director of the Eastern & Southern Europe Territorial Department for the foreign policy adviser to the foreign minister.
 
From 1996-1998, Kolář served as Czech ambassador to Sweden and from 1998-1999 as adviser for European integration and the Balkans to Václav Havel, president of the Czech Republic. From 1999-2003, Kolář was Czech ambassador to Ireland and from September 2003 to October 2005 he was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bilateral Relations
 

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Czech Republic's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
<p><a href="http://www.mzv.cz/wwwo/?zu=washington">The Czech Republic&rsquo;s Embassy in the U.S.</a></p>
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U.S. Ambassador to Czech Republic

Eisen, Norman
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President Barack Obama selected White House ethics lawyer Norman Eisen to be ambassador to the Czech Republic in June 2010, and his Senate confirmation hearing was held on August 5. However, Republican objections, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, blocked a vote on his confirmation. Finally, on December 29, Obama gave Eisen a one-year recess appointment. The position of U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic had been vacant since the day Obama took office.
 
Eisen has no diplomatic experience to speak of, but he does have other qualities going for him—including knowing Barack Obama since law school, and raising substantial sums of money for the president’s 2008 campaign.
 
The son of Eastern European Jewish refugees who survived the Holocaust, Eisen is a first-generation American who grew up in Los Angeles. His mother was born in Czechoslovakia and his father in Poland. In 1975, when Eisen was 14 years old, his father died, and Eisen was forced to drop out of high school to help support his family. Two years later, he returned to school and graduated from Hollywood High School.
 
Eisen went on to Brown University and graduated in 1985. Then he became a civil-rights organizer for the Anti-Defamation League, which focuses on combating anti-Semitism. He later attended Harvard Law School, where he first met Obama.
 
After graduating from law school in 1991, Eisen took a job in Washington with the law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder. During his 17 years with the firm, he handled white-collar criminal cases and congressional investigations. He eventually made partner. In 1998, he co-founded the Kids Computer Workshop to teach computer skills to children in disadvantaged neighborhoods of Washington, DC.
 
In 2003, Eisen co-founded Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog organization that targets corrupt officials.
 
During the 2008 presidential race, Eisen bundled between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama. He also personally donated more than $40,000 to political campaigns, including $4,600 to Obama, $2,300 to Joseph Biden, and $27,350 to the Democratic National Committee.
 
Aside from fundraising, Eisen worked on education policy for the Obama campaign, before turning his attention to ethics reform. He crafted a broad ethics reform plan during the transition and submitted it to Obama for his approval the day after the inauguration. The plan became best known for provisions banning registered lobbyists from taking positions in the administration. It also earned him the nickname “Mr. No.”
 
Eisen’s first official post in the Obama administration was Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform.
 
Eisen is married to Lindsay Kaplan, an associate professor of English at Georgetown University, and the couple has one daughter, Tamar.
 
Norman Eisen (WhoRunsGov)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Czech Republic

Graber, Richard
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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.

 
From 1981 to 2006, Graber was an attorney with Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c., one of Wisconsin’s largest law firms. From 2004 to 2006, he served as president and chief executive officer of the firm. While at the firm, his practice focused on business transactions and government relations. 
 
Graber is well connected within the Republican Party. He served as finance chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin from 1993 to 1999 and as secretary from 1991 to 1999. Graber was then elected chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin in June 1999. He was re-elected in 2001, 2003 and 2005 and was one of the longest serving state chairmen in the country.  He served as chairman of the Wisconsin Delegation at the 2004 national convention in New York, was a delegate at the 2000 convention and was an alternate at the 1992 and 1996 conventions.  From 2002 to 2006, Graber served as Wisconsin’s representative on the Republican National Committee’s Rules Committee. 
 
He has also contributed thousands of dollars to Republican campaigns, including $2,000 in 2003 to President George W. Bush’s re-election effort.
 

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