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Backgrounds: Czech Republic US Relations
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 U.S. 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 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
The U.S. Embassy in Prague is located at Trziste 15, 11801 Prague 1, Czech Republic; tel: 420-2-5753-0663 or 420-2-5753-2715; emergency after hours 420-2-5753-2716.
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