International Conference commemorated the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact
23.06.2011 / 16:15
The conference “Europe – Whole and Free? Two Decades Since the End of the Warsaw Pact,” organized jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic, commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Warsaw Pact dissolution.
The Warsaw Treaty Organization was formally dissolved on July 1, 1991. In a twist of history, it took place in Prague, in the city targeted in 1968 by the only major military action the Pact had ever undertaken.
The conference took place in the Czernin Palace which hosted the act of the Warsaw Pact dissolution twenty years ago. In June, 2011, the traditional seat of the Czechoslovak and Czech Foreign Service welcomed some of the main political actors from both sides of the former Iron Curtain, who contributed to the adoption of the historical decision, as well as scholars. The invitation by Karel Schwarzenberg, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Alexandr Vondra, Minister of Defense was accepted by Władysław Bartoszewski, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland (1995, 2000 - 2001); Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Minister of Defense of France (1988 - 1991); Géza Jeszenszky, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary (1990 - 1994); František Mikloško, President of the Slovak National Council (1990 - 1992); Boris Pankin, Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1990 – 1991) and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union (1991); Malcolm Rifkind, Defense Secretary (1992 – 1995) and Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom (1995 – 1997); Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (1989 – 1993) and Deputy Secretary of Defense of the U.S.A. (2001 – 2005), and other distinguished speakers. President Václav Havel and President Michail Gorbachev sent their messages to the participants of the conference in writing.
The aim of the conference was to examine the fundamental change the Warsaw Pact dissolution brought to the European security architecture and its lasting implications. The first day of the conference discussed the past and future development of the transatlantic and Eurasian cooperation in the area of security and defense from the foreign policy perspective. The main focus was on NATO enlargement and relations between Russia and the Western World, including former members of the Warsaw Pact, now members of NATO and the European Union. The key topics of the closing sessions presenting the historical perspective included the events that preceded the Warsaw Pact dissolution, and deployments of Soviet troops on the territory of the Warsaw Pact members and their departure.
The program of the Conference also featured the opening of a historical exhibition “A Brotherly Hug?” presented by the Military History Institute Prague and the Czech non-governmental organization OPONA, o.p.s. under the auspices of Přemysl Sobotka, Vice-Chairman of the Senate the Parliament of the Czech Republic. The exhibition took place in the Wallenstein Garden and remains open to the public from June 28 to August 31, 2011.
The Conference was a part of the Week of Freedom, a project organized by the non-governmental organization OPONA, o.p.s. The program included discussions, exhibitions, film presentations and a unique concert. Further information about the project can be found at www.weekoffreedom.eu.