This year, for the first time, the Bratislava Global Security Forum will host a Gala Dinner commemorating the 10th anniversary of the historic NATO Prague Summit of 2002. The Summit, where Slovakia and six other countries were invited to NATO, meant the successful conclusion of an important chapter in their history, and an important step towards Europe whole and free.
The Gala Dinner will also feature a new initiative launched by the Slovak Atlantic Commission and the Czech Euro-Atlantic Council Jagello 2000: the Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Awards. Within this initiative we will annually recognize personalities, who have substantially contributed to freedom and democracy in Central Europe, to strengthening of the transatlantic relations and integration of Central Europe to Euro-Atlantic Institutions and who keep inspiring us with their wisdom and vision.
The Slovak and Czech struggle for freedom has always been complemented by the effort to become a member of the Euro-Atlantic family of countries, a family of countries with common values, such as democracy, freedom and rule of law. The Velvet revolution of 1989 gave us a unique opportunity to become part of reunited Europe. However, our journey was neither painless nor smooth.
Today, many take our peace and security as well as our membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures for granted. Often they forget the hard work, leadership and determination of those who contributed towards these historic changes. In times when the whole region found itself at crossroads, mentorship, vision and hard work of personalities who believed that the region of Central Europe might once become a region of stability and safe home for millions of people, were much needed. Many times it took much boldness to stand up for such determination. Few people had courage to defend the idea of integrating Eastern European countries into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
This year, two such figures will be recognized at the GLOBSEC Gala Dinner:
Ron Asmus - a prominent American diplomat and analyst, who will be awarded in memoriam. There is scarcely a person who did more for Central Europe’s accession to NATO than Ron. He was the one who changed the idea of NATO expansion from an impractical vision to common sense.
H.E. Alexandr Vondra - Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, former advisor to Václav Havel, ambassador of Czech republic to NATO and a person who, among others, was responsible for the preparations of the 2002 Prague NATO Summit’s. In every position he has held in his prolific career, he has always been a strong proponent of the idea of Atlanticism, integration of Czech Republic and Slovakia to NATO.