Bratislava, April 12, 2012 - This year, for the very first time, the Global Security Forum GLOBSEC was hosting a ceremony during which the new Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Awards was awarded to two personalities who have significantly contributed to the strengthening of the transatlantic relations.
One of the leading ceremonial moments of the GLOBSEC 2012 conference was tonight's Gala Dinner commemorating the 10th anniversary of the historic moment when seven post-communist Central European countries were invited to become members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Prague NATO Summit in 2002 thus represented a successful conclusion of an important chapter in the history of countries such as Slovakia and Czech Republic and an important step towards Europe whole and free.
The Gala Dinner also featured a new Czech-Slovak initiative launched by two leading public diplomacy non-governmental organizations in these countries: the Jagello 2000 Association in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Atlantic Commission (SAC) in Slovakia. The goal of this initiative is to recall, emphasize and recognize the work of those individuals who have substantially contributed to freedom and democracy in Central Europe, to strengthening of the transatlantic relations and integration of Central Europe into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Democracy, freedom and the rule of law are not a given feature of a society and in 1989 with the Velvet Revolution and collapse of the communist regime, Czechoslovakia set out on a journey that was neither painless nor smooth.
Today, Jagello 2000 and SAC launched a tradition of annual Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Awards (CSTA) and following recommendations of a The Honorary Committee created for this purpose they want to recognize personalities, whose vision and hard work for better future inspired the whole region. Each year, two personalities will be awarded.
Tonight, at the historical building of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, the first personality who was awarded the CSTA was a prominent American diplomat and analyst Ronald Asmus. Ron Asmus was awarded in memoriam and the award was presented to his wife Barbara Wilkinson who we can welcome to Bratislava for this occasion. Central and Eastern Europe remembers Ron Asmus best for his relentless effort supporting the groundbreaking decision to enlarge the North Atlantic Treaty Organization so that it includes the post-communist countries. Slovakia has recently even commemorated Asmuses role in helping the country to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic structures by releasing a memorable postcard.
The other recognized personality tonight is the Czech diplomat and politician Alexandr Vondra, Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, former advisor to the Czech President Vaclav Havel and a former Czech Ambassador to the USA. In every position he has held in his prolific career, he has always been a strong proponent of the idea of Atlanticism and integration of Czech Republic and Slovakia to NATO. Mr. Vondra is also a person who, among others, was responsible for the preparations of the above mentioned 2002 Prague NATO Summit.
The awardees have been chosen from a wider list of nominations by The Honorary Committee created for this purpose. Twelve distinguished personalities from the diplomatic, political and military area have accepted the invitation of the Slovak Atlantic Commission and Jagello 2000 to this Committee: Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement, Ján Kohout, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Zbyněk Pavlačík, Chairman of the Jagello 2000, Martin Povejšil, Czech Representative to NATO, Jiří Schneider, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Gen. (Ret). Jiří Šedivý, Former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic, Martin Bútora, Honorary President of the Institute for Public Affairs, Gen. (Ret). Milan Cerovský Former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Slovakia, Mikulaš Dzurinda, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia, Ján Figeľ, Former Member of the European Commission, Rastislav Káčer, President of the SAC, Maroš Šefčovič, Vice President of the European Commission.