Czech the News

January / February 2003, Volume XII, Number 1


Vaclav Havel Leaves the Office of Czech President

Czech Republic Invited to the European Union

Message from the Ambassador

News in Brief

Major General Kotil Returns to the Czech Republic

American Organization Reaches Milestone in Aid for Czech Republic Flood Relief

U.S. Ambassador on Czech Investment Climate

Newly Established Ministry of IT

Profile: Josef A. Mestenhauser

Czech & Slovak Cultural Center in Minnesota

Vaclav Havel Leaves the Office of Czech President

On February 2, Czech President Vaclav Havel, an internationally known promoter of democracy, stepped down from his post of Czech President.

"I trust that the new president will be a wise, open-minded, and responsible person, a creative partner to the political representation arising from the recent election, one in whom all law-abiding citizens will see their ally."

The above quote was delivered by President Havel during his 2003 New Year’s address as he expressed his hope for the future welfare of a country whose sovereignty he has defended as an active member of the citizenry, well before his 13-year long presidency.

The character criteria of a prospective president, as explained in Havel’s own words, undoubtedly reflects not only what the former president expects of his predecessor, but also the code of conduct he has institutionalized in his own leadership.

Vaclav Havel is a man who took an active part in his country’s history. Fighting for what he believed in from his earliest years as a dissident, he has seen the inside of a prison cell too many times. The insatiable need for expression led the young playwright into opposition of the Communist authorities that were known to suppress literary and artistic freedoms in the Czech Republic since 1948.

An important insider of the wide intellectual circle of his country, Vaclav Havel helped to create Charter 77. Supported by hundreds of Czech thinkers and members of the intelligencia, the document was a declaration of demand that all Czechoslovak citizens be afforded their basic human rights.

In 1989, the pitch of tension heightened, as Vaclav Havel played an instrumental role in the mobilization of the democratically oriented Civic Forum that led to the Velvet Revolution, as well as his appointment as the first President of a free and democratic Czechoslovakia.

Vaclav Havel serves as the model of the communitaristic view of democracy that stresses the importance of an active, ethically-bound community in which each citizen is willing to accept the responsibility he or she holds in preserving a free state.

In the realm of international relations, President Havel has undoubtedly benefited his country with his worldwide prestige. His nomination of Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, an activist for Cuban human rights, for the Nobel Peace Prize was also met by wide support.

The legacy Vaclav Havel leaves to his country’s posterity then is an internationally recognized Parliamentary Democracy, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership, as well as an open doorway to the European Union. But most importantly perhaps, President Vaclav Havel’s stay at the Prague Castle has been crowned with a commitment to democracy, human rights, rule of law and human dignity.

As the president departs from his office, the restless Vaclav Havel will undoubtedly continue playing an active role in his country’s affairs, fulfilling the model of a responsible citizen he has presented to his people. The Czech people certainly wish Vaclav Havel above all, continued health and happiness.

Czech Republic Invited to the European Union

On December 13, 2002, the Czech Republic successfully concluded negotiations on its accession to the EU at the European Council in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The historic Copenhagen EU summit held on December 12-13, 2003 concluded that 10 countries will be ready to enter the EU in 2004. The candidates to join in 2004 include: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The accession will enhance political stability, democracy, human rights, and the protection of minorities. The enlargement will bring a population of nearly 100 million into a common economic area with a total population of nearly 500 million. This will create the world's largest single market, excellently equipped to meet the challenges of global competition. The Czech Republic will reap the benefits of its central location in the single market.

The Czech Republic has always been among the leading countries in the accession process, which is documented by their closure of the crucial chapter entitled “Free movement of goods” as early as December 1999. The negotiations were conducted as an intergovernmental accession conference held by the current 15 Member States on one side and the Czech Republic on the other. Between the formal meetings of the accession conference, a number of expert meetings at various levels took place between the European Commission and Czech administration officials with the aim of consulting, discussing and explaining the technical details of individual negotiating chapters.

The Accession Treaty will now be submitted to the European Parliament for its assent and will then be officially signed on April 16, 2003 in Athens, Greece.

After the Treaty is signed, it will be subject to ratification by the candidate countries and all of the Member States. Most of the candidate countries, including the Czech Republic, will hold a public vote. The Czech referendum is likely to take place on June 15 and 16, 2003 and its result will be binding. The law governing the referendum does not prescribe any minimum turnout at the polls.

After the successful completion of the ratification procedure, the Czech Republic will officially become a member of the EU on May 1, 2004.

To learn more about the Czech Republic’s accession to the European Union, please go to

Message from the Ambassador

As you all know, Sunday, February 2 was Vaclav Havel’s last working day in his office at the Prague Castle. At 12. p.m., the president’s banner was lowered and his thirteen years in office came to an end. It is more than appropriate to thank him wholeheartedly for everything that he has done in his capacity to restore freedom in our country and to lead our nation from totalitarianism to democracy. Not only here in Washington, but all around the world, the Czech Republic is known as the country with Vaclav Havel as President. Frankly speaking, the fact that his presidency is now a matter of the past puts us into a new situation, especially pertaining to our future foreign political activities, and poses the question as to whether or not we will be able to use prudently the respect the Czech Republic has gained because of Vaclav Havel; whether we will be able to preserve or to forfeit his invaluable but at the same times complex, or even I would dare say mysterious, political legacy.

The whole chapter of our current history is closing with Vaclav Havel’s departure. Nonetheless, it would be premature to try now to judge his presidency or even more generally to evaluate his significance for and contribution to our modern political traditions. This event is not only the end of an exciting era that started in the hey days of the “Velvet Revolution” – for Vaclav Havel himself it is also the beginning of his post-presidential life. For that, I would like to wish him and his wife Dagmar good luck, personal happiness, and above all good health – I am already looking forward to his new texts and to his new roles in the public sphere.

Without a doubt, Vaclav Havel will inspire many discussions in the years to come. For sure, there will be admirers, biographers, story-tellers and professional “Havlologists,” writing about his thoughts and deeds from all sorts of angles and perspectives. Obviously, not only those who have been enchanted by Havel, for whom Havel will forever remain a subject of adoration and a source of inspiration, will be heard, but also his critics and enemies. The truth is that Havel’s legacy is a great testimony of our times, illuminating the Czech political landscape in transition from the 20th to the 21st century, vivid proof that the Czech question can indeed be, as Masaryk demanded, understood in a “worldly” manner. However, it is also the truth that this heritage has been left to us, as Hannah Arendt once used the verses of Rene Char, “with no testament.” What we have in front of us are not Havel’s definitive ideological answers or political “recipes” to the problems of our contemporary world, but rather many challenging questions, appealing to our personal responsibility, reminding us that the main political virtue is the courage to go against the current, the courage to challenge the powers-that-be with the help of "powerless" ideals, and, if necessary, to speak up and to act. As President, Vaclav Havel has managed to bring his country from the Babylonian captivity of totalitarianism back to the free world. As an outstanding political thinker, he formulated and coined a compelling vision of the New Europe (as his predecessor Masaryk did in 1918) within a new emerging global political order of planetary mankind. With all of his official duties and political actions, however, he always remained himself – as a politician he remained a playwright and Socratic philosopher; as a political realist with sometimes “hawkish” tendencies, he stayed an idealist, peace-maker and ardent supporter of human rights, siding with all sorts of dissidents. And so, what is his legacy truly? What should our posteriority learn about Vaclav Havel, a real hero of our times, a great European politician, and the first post-communist Czechoslovak/Czech president?

As you read these lines, we will already know the results of the third round of the presidential election in the Czech Republic, scheduled for February 28. If we happen to have a new President, I would like to congratulate him or her cordially and wish him or her all of the best in this important and challenging, yet noble, duty to the benefit of our nation. If we shall still have to wait for some time before the presidential banner flies again over the Prague Castle, I would like to express my most sincere hopes that this vacancy will not last too long and to wish our legislators the gift of an open mind – or of an “understanding heart” as the biblical king Salomon used to pray – to be able to change our constitution in a reasonable and balanced manner and to let the people decide this important question.

Major General Kotil Returns to the Czech Republic

Dear Friends,

Along with the start of the New Year came the end of my tour of duty as Defense Attache of the Czech Republic in the USA. In February, my wife and I will return home to our three children, our friends, and a new set of duties.

We will bring back wonderful memories of the people we met, the good times we had, and the great places we saw during these past four years. In addition to all of that, our youngest son successfully completed his studies at Langley High School.

As a professional soldier, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to represent the Czech Republic Armed Forces in the USA. Moreover - my years in America were marked by two summits, both of grave importance to my country. The first in 1999, here in Washington, DC shortly after the Czech Republic became a NATO member, and the second, the November 2002 meeting in Prague, where further NATO enlargement was determined and the much needed transformation of the Alliance to fit the conditions dictated by security requirements was outlined.

It was a great experience to have had the chance as the Czech Republic military representative to initiate and build up cooperation with SACLANT - the NATO Headquarters in Norfolk, where most of the Alliance transformation ideas originated. A major part of my work was of course in the Pentagon — and there I must say that I have always found understanding, advice and help, and for that I am most appreciative.

My participation in lectures for NDU Washington and the Army Management Staff College at Fort Belvoir was also a nice addition to my work that gave me an opportunity to learn what the Americans are interested in and what they already know about the Czech Republic. Another important step forward was the opening of dialog with World War II veterans, be it those with Czech roots living in the USA, or U.S. veterans, members of General Patton’s III. Army, who helped liberate the western Bohemian town of Plzen (Pilsen) in May of 1945. I am grateful that I could attend the meetings of Czech veterans in Washington D. C. and in New York, as well as the meeting at West, Texas — and also a meeting with U. S. veterans at Ft. Benning.

My time in the USA will forever be tinted by the memory of September 11, 2001. That morning I saw with my own eyes what hatred can mean and what the terrorists are capable of. It is clear that the security of the world has been upset — and that the security environment has changed significantly, and I am sure that I will be able to share my long-time experience in the USA upon my return to the Czech Republic effectively.

During my four years here in the USA, I had the honor of being part of Ambassador Alexandr Vondra’s and later Ambassador Martin Palous’s team. I greatly appreciate all of the cooperation with both of those gentlemen, as well as with all of the members of their staff. Brigadier General Jan Petras is to be the new Czech Defense Attache in the USA, and I wish him all of the best. I hope that he, too, will meet as much goodwill as I did.

So, in parting, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all who were of help — encouraging, aiding, advising or just standing by me and turning my work into the kind of accomplishment that I may look back on one day with satisfaction and even a bit of pride.

News in Brief

ODS Elects Successor to Klaus

Senator Mirek Topolanek was elected the opposition Civic Democratic Party's (ODS) new chairman at a congress held in Frantiskovy Lazne on December 15, 2002. He replaces ODS founder and outgoing chairman, former Premier Vaclav Klaus, who intends to run for Czech president. Topolanek's election to the post signals a "turn toward change" in the party and a desire to reunite the political right. Topolanek, a deputy president of the Senate, was elected in the second round of voting, receiving 179 votes in a secret ballot.

Czech PM Satisfied with Outcome of EU Summit

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said he was satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations that made a breakthrough and resulted in invitations for ten European countries, among them the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, the countries of the so called V - 4 (Visegrad group of Central European countries) to join the EU in 2004.

Spidla also said that it was not realistic to expect that the Czech Republic would adopt the common European currency (EURO) sooner than 2009-11.

For details, please see Page 1 or go to

Czech Lower House Approves 2003 Budget

The Chamber of Deputies approved the 2003 budget in a tight 101-96 vote on December 17, 2002. The budget represents a planned 111.3 billion-crown ($3.67 billion) deficit – the highest in the country's 10-year history. Revenues are forecast at 684 billion crowns and expenditures at 795.3 billion crowns.

Czech Government Scores EU Victory

The Chamber of Deputies approved a resolution praising the successful completion of EU accession talks. The resolution that was approved also expresses gratitude to President Vaclav Havel and all Czech post-communist Prime Ministers – Vaclav Klaus, Josef Tosovsky, Milos Zeman, and Vladimir Spidla – for their contribution to the successful outcome of the negotiations. Similar thanks are expressed in the resolution to former Foreign Ministers Josef Zieleniec, Jaroslav Sedivy, and Jan Kavan, along with current Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. The deputies also praised the contribution of chief Czech negotiator and eventual Ambassador to the EU Pavel Telicka.

Czech PM Confident EU Membership will Benefit the CR

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla says he is confident that EU membership will benefit his country. Spidla said that throughout history, Czechs have fared well when they have Europe behind them and badly when they were isolated. Spidla said "European integration is in fact a new civilization project" and "an original contribution of our continent."

Havel Makes Last New Year’s Speech as Czech President

In his last New Year's speech as Czech president, Vaclav Havel said that in the 10 years that have passed since the Czech and Slovak republics divided from Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic has become a reliable and respected democratic state that enjoys internal stability and provides an outlet for its people's creative potential. Havel said he considers democratic development to be irreversible but that this does not mean the process of democracy building is over. Without disclosing a preference for any of the candidates to succeed him, Havel said he believes that the individual "will be a wise, open, and responsible person who will be a creative partner of the political representatives elected in the last elections and whom citizens can consider to be their ally."

Havel Signs Letter Supporting the USA

President Vaclav Havel and seven other European heads of governments signed an open letter in which they call on Europe to support the United States in its efforts to disarm Iraq.

The letter appeared in the Wall Street Journal and The Times of London.

The top officials of Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic warn that trans-Atlantic relations should not become victim to the current threat of world security by Iraq.

Gala Goodbye for President Havel

A gala performance in honor of President Vaclav Havel took place at the National Theater in Prague. The event was organized by First Lady Dagmar Havlova as a goodbye tribute to the outgoing president. The evening was an appropriate, theatrical farewell for the playwright-president, who was honored by many of the country's leading artists. Excerpts from Vaclav Havel's plays were read and songs were sung, while pictures from his life were shown on video screens. Among those seated in the audience were some of the country's top politicians, foreign diplomats and business people. In addition, well-known international figures sent video messages honoring the Czech president, among them were UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, US President George Bush and actor Sean Connery.

No Banner at Prague Castle, CR Without President

The presidential banner was removed from Prague Castle, the presidential seat, at midnight on February 2, 2003, when Vaclav Havel’s term expired and the Czech Republic was left without a president, as Parliament has not yet elected a successor to him.

Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar arrived at the First Castle Courtyard to see the banner pulled down.

It is still not certain when Havel's successor will be elected. The parliament failed twice to elect the new president on January 15 and January 24, 2003.

Politicians are now busy preparing for a third three-round election, though they would like to reach a consensus on one candidate this time.

If the third attempt fails, Parliament may decide to amend the Constitution to allow for a direct presidential election.

American Organization Reaches Milestone in Aid for Czech Republic Flood Relief

Phillip Kasik, president of American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFoCR), announced on January 20, 2003 that AFoCR's Prague-Needs-Help Relief Fund has exceeded $300,000 USD in total contributions. Over 25 separate flood relief grants have already been made or are currently in progress.

The American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFoCR) , a Washington-based non-profit organization that has supported and advocated for the US-Czech relationship since 1995, has been working since August 2002 on fundraising for flood relief — and providing grant funds for urgent flood relief projects in the Czech Republic. AFoCR president Phil Kasik was in Northern Bohemia and Prague during August 2002 where he observed first-hand the extent of the damage, and the Czechs’ quick response to begin the daunting task of cleanup and recovery.

As the floodwaters receded, AFoCR established the Prague-Needs-Help Flood Relief Fund with the advice and support of the Czech Embassy in Washington. The Fund used AFoCR’s existing organizational infrastructure to implement a major fundraising campaign and flood relief granting effort. Through its website, its state of the art electronic pledge system and its network of contacts throughout the United States, AFoCR reached out to concerned Americans. The American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and AMCHAM members participated actively in fundraising efforts. The response was heartening as Americans, Czech-Americans and Americans of Czech descent everywhere responded.

Contributions have come primarily from American organizations, associations, churches, corporations and many concerned Americans who saw the need and wanted to help. Thanks to their support and generosity, the Fund has received over 500 contributions, ranging from $5 to $50,000. The majority of the funds have now been granted to 25 projects in Prague and many other hard-hit areas. A few of the larger contributions came from US companies doing business in the Czech Republic, from prominent members of the US film industry, and from several prominent Czech-American organizations. A number of concerned groups and churches undertook special flood relief fundraising efforts.

The first AFoCR relief aid was on its way almost as soon as the flood waters receded. Working with AmeriCares, an American non-profit relief organization, AFoCR provided partial funding for an emergency shipment of vital medical supplies to address the immediate problem of the spread of disease from contaminated water supplies. Direct grants of emergency aid followed to the cities most devastated, to deal with immediate cleanup and restoration of services. Ceske Budejovice, Decin, Melnik, Pilsen, Pisek, Pribram and Usti nad Labem received grants or equipment as recommended by the American Embassy in Prague after visits by Embassy officials.

Grants have now been issued for specific projects leading to recovery and restoration of public facilities, restoration of important cultural and historic sites and artifacts, and to address acute housing needs. The projects selected were determined by AFoCR with major input from the US and Czech Embassies and the American Chamber of Commerce in Prague, as well as non-profit organizations working in the country. The projects covered hospitals and medical facilities, schools and education facilities, replacement housing units, and historic facilities and museums.

The grants include projects for Kralupy hospital, housing units in Veseli nad Luznici, Sokol facilities in Blatna, the math and physics library at Charles University, the vocational high school in Decin, the Central Bohemian Museum in Roztoky, the cultural facility ROXY in Prague, the national memorial and museum at Terezin, vocational schools in Karlin (Lyckovo and Molakova), educational facilities in Trebon, elementary schools in Pisek and Ceske Budejovice, the Jewish Museum in Prague, severely damaged synagogues in Prague and the Church of St. Salvator in Prague.

The Czech Embassy in Washington provides administrative and advisory support to the Fund. AMCHAM in Prague provided administrative support for several key projects such as the Kralupy hospital and undertook active fundraising efforts. Citibank in Washington provides assistance with receipt of funds. AFoCR is providing both direct grants and grants through other non-profit organizations in the Czech Republic, including the People-In-Need Foundation and VIZE 97. Additional grants are planned and new fundraising activities are now being planned.

The Prague-Needs Help Fund continues its work since much work remains to be done. Urgent projects remain to be funded. The organization requests that tax-deductible contributions be sent today to the "AFoCR, Prague-Needs-Help Flood Relief Fund" at Citibank, 1901 Wisconsin Avenue NW Washington, DC 20007. Make checks payable to AFoCR Prague-Needs-Help Flood Relief Fund or contribute electronically at AFoCR’s website at Larger contributions can be sent by wire transfer to Citibank, 1901 Wisconsin NW Washington DC, ABA/Routing Number: 2540-70116, Account Name: Prague-Needs-Help Flood Relief Fund, Account Number: 1507 4196.

U.S. Ambassador on Czech Investment Climate

On January 10th, 2003, BCIU (Business Council for International Understanding) held a luncheon in NYC with H.E. Craig Stapleton, U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic. The Ambassador's remarks endorsed the effectiveness of the bilateral U.S. - Czech investment treaty, which was instrumental in bringing U.S. investment into the Republic. He favorably described the Czech economic climate and the qualification of the Czech workforce. Ambassador Stapleton also suggested that the CR should not exclusively concentrate on manufacturing projects, but also attract projects in services. According to Mr. Stapleton, in 2003 U.S. companies will be looking at expansions of existing facilities rather than placing new large projects in the CR.

Newly Established Ministry of IT

As of January 1, 2003, the new Czech ministry for telecommunications and information technology took over the responsibilities for post & telecom. The Ministry is to oversee that 25% of the government agenda is carried out electronically and that at least 50% of the population is computer literate. The Ministry’s goal is also to create a more competitive telecommunications environment, give support to e-business, and fulfill the EU candidate countries initiatives eEurope+, IDA, e-Content and TESTA.

The eEurope+ initiative should fasten the economic transformation of EU candidate countries, their competitiveness and social cohesiveness. The program will secure a full integration in the eEurope 2005 program (the current EU member countries’ program for the support of modern information technologies). Many of the eEurope+ goals are directly linked with to the Ministry’s set targets - faster, safer and cheaper internet access, liberalization of the telecommunication industry, educative programs for modern information technology literacy support, and the establishment of the internet as a common tool that would enable transparent communication between people and administration.

IDA (Interchange of Data between Administrations) focuses on building e-applications that would capacitate exchange of data between administrative bodies of the EU member countries. TESTA is an all-European communication net, similar to the internet, restrained for the information flow among public administrative bodies. It is the first essential step that secures that the EU candidate countries will be able to keep up with the information structure of the EU once they join the EU e-government.

e-Content is a market oriented program dedicated to supporting easy access to the latest digital technologies and products and services in the public and private sectors. The program stimulates economic growth, creates employment opportunities, and even gives financial support to the selected best projects.

The new IT Ministry will start a national IT education program sponsored by Intel. The courses, aimed at increasing computer literacy, are open to Czechs for a symbolic $3. The courses will be held mostly in Internet cafes and libraries


Vladimir Mlynar

Deputy Minister: Michal Frankl

Ministry of Informatics

Havelkova 2

130 00 Praha 3

Profile: Josef A. Mestenhauser

In 1999, Josef A. Mestenhauser was appointed Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Minnesota. Today, as a Professor Emeritus of Educational Policy and Administration and College Coordinator of International Education Programs at the University of Minnesota, Professor Mestenhauser is a well-respected scholar who has traveled extensively to lecture at numerous domestic and international institutions.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Mr. Mestenhauser studied law at Charles University. However, his studies in Prague were halted when he was expelled from the university by the communist “action committees” due to his role as a student leader in the National Student Association and the Law Student Association, Vsehrd. Later, he escaped from Czechoslovakia when he was awarded a scholarship organized by the Masaryk Institute in New York to study in the U.S. With the help of the organization, Mr. Mestenhauser received his B.A. from Eastern Washington College in Education and his M.A. and Pd.D. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.

After completing his doctorate, Mr. Mestenhauser held a dual appointment as Director of the office of International Education and Professor at the University of Minnesota. Among his many accomplishments, Mr. Mestenhauser is a four-time Fulbright scholar in the Philippines (1966-67), Japan (1980), Korea (1989) and Czechoslovakia (1991-92) and through the program has lectured frequently in Japan, Korea, Belarus, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and the Czech Republic. At the University of Minnesota, Mr. Mestenhauser helped to build a graduate program, titled “Comparative and International Development Education,” according to Campus International News at the University of Minnesota. In addition, Mr. Mestenhauser has published over 100 books, articles and monographs. Among one of his many works, “Traveling the Unpaved Road to Democracy from Communism,” was published by UNESCO/CEPES in three languages and might be of special interest to people in the Czech and Slovak Republics.

As both a scholar and Consul, Mr. Mestenhauser continues to help better the lives of the people in both the Czech and Slovak Republics by striving to strengthen their school systems, among many other efforts. During the Era of Totality, especially after the Prague Spring in 1968, Mr. Mestenhauser raised funds for Czech and Slovak students to enhance their education credentials through scholarships, admissions to universities, and many other assorted forms of assistance. From 1987 - 1988, Mr. Mestenhauser served as President of NAFSA - Association of International Educators. Since 1991, he has visited both countries on a frequent basis to assist in the efforts to rebuild their educational systems. In addition, Mr. Mestenhauser is a host to Czech scholars and students.

Moreover, Mr. Mestenhauser established the Proshek Foundation for fellowships for doctors, through an inheritance from Mrs. Proshek, the daughter of Gabriela Preisova, the Czech writer. This fellowship is now part of the Proshek-Fulbright program and hosts doctors annually for study and observation in various specialities. During the past four years, Mr. Mestenhauser conducted seminars for selected faculty and graduate students in the Czech Republic, hosted by the Pedagogical Faculty of Charles University, where he served previously as a Visiting Fulbright Professor.

In 1998, Mr. Mestenhauser was chosen for making distinguished contributions to Charles University and honored for his several years of dedication to scholarship both in the U.S. and internationally. With several members of his family, Mr. Mestenhauser traveled back to Prague and was awarded a Golden Medallion for Outstanding Service at a ceremony honoring the 650th anniversary of Charles University at St. Vitus Cathedral.

Today, in addition to performing duties associated with serving as Honorary Consul and Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, Mr. Mestenhauser is the President and founder of the Czech and Slovak Cultural Center of Minnesota. The Center functions as the coordinating organization of several local ethnic organizations including Sokol and the Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International.

Both Czechs in Minneapolis as well as Czechs living in other parts of the U.S. and abroad have benefitted from Mr. Mestenhauser’s significant accomplishments and dedication to the Czech Republic.

Czech & Slovak Cultural Center in Minnesota

Czech and Slovak culture has flourished in Minnesota since the 1850’s when the first immigrants of this ethnic group arrived. The search to deepen their understanding of the links between the Czechoslovak culture and its relation to Minnesota, as well as the global community, led to the formation of the Czech and Slovak Cultural Center. Inspired by President Havel’s visit to the state ,as well as his theory of a “civil society,” the center works to create cooperation among the social, cultural and business spheres.

The Czech and Slovak Cultural Center in Minnesota is an organization that has been made possible through the collective effort of Czech and Slovak Sokol; Czechoslovak Genealogical Society International; the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences; and the Tri-City Consortium of New Prague, Montgomery and Lonsdale. The center is located in the home of the Czech and Slovak Sokol Minnesota at 383 Michigan Street of Saint Paul, MN. The space is provided free of charge by Sokol.

Drawing on a common history of the former Czechoslovakia, the CSCC examines the present and future possibilities of Czech, Slovak, and U.S. relations.

One of the many goals of the center is a commitment to creating cultural and artistic programs. A series of lectures, seminars, and discussions take place during the first Thursday of each month at the CSPS (Sokol) Hall at 383 Michigan St., Saint Paul, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Future programs include The Czech Immigration to the United States, presented by C. Winston Chrislock on March 3, 2003; Skip the Czechs, but not the Cheques: Slovak Immigration to the United States, by Daniel Necas on April 3, 2003; and Slovak Settlement of the Bohemian Flats in Minneapolis by Don Pafko on May 1, 2003.

For additional information on future activities of the CSCC such as the Film Club, Music Series, Book Club, etc. please contact Daniel Necas, CSCC Program Chair at or go to