Czech Republic - Foreign Relations
From 1948 until 1989, the foreign policy of Czechoslovakia followed that of the Soviet Union. Since independence, the Czechs have made integration into Western institutions their chief foreign policy objective. The Czech Republic became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), along with Poland and Hungary, on March 12, 1999. Public support for NATO remains high. The Czech Republic became a full member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. Both events are milestones in the country's foreign policy and security orientation. The Czech Republic successfully completed its first-ever EU Presidency during the first half of 2009.
The Czech Republic is a member of the United Nations and participates in its specialized agencies. It is a member of the World Trade Organization. It maintains resident embassies in 93 countries. Furthermore, 82 countries have permanent representation in Prague. 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. Tomas Masaryk, the father of the state and its first President, visited the United States during World War I and worked with U.S. officials in developing the basis of the new country. Masaryk used the US Constitution as a model for the first Czechoslovak constitution.
After World War II, and the return of the Czechoslovak Government in exile, normal relations 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.
Since the "Velvet Revolution" of 1989, bilateral relations have improved immensely. Dissidents once sustained by U.S. encouragement and human rights policies reached high levels in the government. President Havel, in his first official visit as head of Czechoslovakia, addressed the U.S. Congress and was interrupted 21 times by standing ovations. In 1990, on the first anniversary of the revolution, President George H.W. Bush, in front of an enthusiastic crowd on Prague's Wenceslas Square, pledged U.S. support in building a democratic Czechoslovakia. Toward this end, the U.S. Government has actively encouraged political and economic transformation.
The US Government 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 U.S. recognized both the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1, 1993. Since then, U.S.-Czech relations have remained strong economically, politically, and culturally.
Relations between the US and the Czech Republic are excellent and reflect the common approach both have to the many challenges facing the world at present. The U.S. looks to the Czech Republic as a partner in issues ranging from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and seeks opportunities to continue to deepen this relationship.
In its policy statement approved in February 2014, the new center-left government promised to bring the Czech Republic back to the EU mainstream, reaffirm its commitment to EU integration and take a more active part in shaping the EU’s future. The previous government suffered from a cold war between the foreign minister and the prime minister and from a cold war between the foreign minister and the president. Czech President and Honorary ODS Chairman, Vaclav Klaus, was outspoken in defense of Russia.
The Committee on the Coordination of Foreign Security Policy was established by Government Resolution No. 32 of 11 January 1999 as a standing working body for the National Security Council responsible for the domestic coordination of the Czech Republic’s foreign security policy. In the field of foreign security policy, the Committee coordinates preparatory measures and activities. Its main tasks include coordination of the domestic activities of administrative authorities fulfilling the tasks and obligations associated with the Czech Republic's membership in international security organizations (UN, NATO, OSCE, EU/CSDP). Furthermore, the Committee deals with regional security matters and assesses relevant risks that could potentially threaten the Czech Republic’s security and interests.
The Committee also reviews, in terms of Czech foreign policy, proposals for the Czech Republic’s involvement in peacekeeping, humanitarian and rescue operations and discusses the financial framework for the Czech Republic’s participation in foreign civil operations and missions led by international governmental organizations.
The Czech Republic continued to be an active player in the area of human rights in 2019. Through its Permanent Mission in Geneva, it participated in the activities of the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC), namely by supporting 51 resolutions, e.g. on the human rights situation in Myanmar, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Syria, Iran, Belarus, Yemen, the Philippines, women’s rights, human rights in the digital age or the death penalty. The Czech Republic also joined 28 statements on the human rights situation in Venezuela, the Crimea and Saudi Arabia. In 2019, the Czech Republic presented its view in the adoption of the HRC resolution on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
The Czech Republic completed its historically first membership in the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (2017–2019), as its Vice-Chairman. In this capacity, it advocated coexistence of the stabilisation, humanitarian and development activities. Through the exhibition named “Flying Doctors”, the Czech Republic presented its MEDEVAC health-humanitarian programme and also financially supported the UNICEF activities for women and children in Iraq and South Sudan.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|