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VILNIUS - Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr. awarded the Palmer Prize

Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Korea Jaroslav Olša, jr. was awarded the 2011 Palmer Prize for Diplomats for his contribution to the advancement of democracy in Zimbabwe at the 6th Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies held at Vilnius, Lithuania.

As a part of the biannual Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies (www.community-democracies.org), the inaugural Palmer Prize for Diplomats was awarded to Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Korea, Mr. Jaroslav Olša, jr. The creation of this award - aimed for diplomats, who have made significant contributions to the advancement of democracy in their countries of assignment - was announced last year during the celebrations of ten years since the creation of the Community of Democracies. The first awarding ceremony was held at its 6th Ministerial Conference held in Vilnius, Lithuania on July 1, 2011, with delegations from 72 countries headed by many distinguised personalities, among them US Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Baroness Catherine Ashton, Presidents of Mongolia and Lithuania, as well as Ministers of Foreign Affairs of more than twenty countries, including Canada, India, the Netherlands, Sweden, Hungary, Slovakia, Tunisia, Ukraine, Bangladesh and Moldova.

acceptance speech of Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr., behind Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis

Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr. was selected to be awarded the Palmer Prize for Diplomats  bythe secretariat for the International Steering Committee of the Community of Democracies from many distinguished nominations by governments and civil society organizations from around the world for his contribution to the advancement of democracy while serving as Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Zimbabwe in 2000 to 2006. During his long term in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr. advocated for free and fair elections during the 2002 Presidential and 2000 and 2005 Parliamentary elections and did his best to ensure that a true record of what he observed reached local and other observer missions and the international community. He also wanted to pass the message about the real situation in Zimbabwe with his writing, as he is also the author of articles and books on history and politics of contemporary Zimbabwe (e.g. „History of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi“ published in Czech language in 2008). Jaroslav Olša, jr. also worked with civil society and explored various ways in which he could support the Zimbabwean people’s struggle for democracy, including supporting the independent art scene by organizing art exhibitions, supporting literary life as well as theatre performances. Ambassador Jaroslav Olša was also instrumental in the establishment of Zimbabwean cultural presentations that showcase political and social commentary in Zimbabwe in the Czech Republic.


Palmer Prize for Diplomats criteria


Four other diplomats also received the Palmer Prize from the hands of Mr. Audronius Ažubalis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, there. Dutch diplomat Ms. Caecilia Wijgers for her work with the civil society opposition groups in Cuba in the late 2000s, current Peruvian Ambassador to Romania Mr. Ernesto Pinto-Bazurco Rittler for his support of the thousands of Cuban asylum seekers in 1980, the founder of the Democracy Unit of the Canadian foreign ministry Mr. Ben Rowswell for his work in Afghanistan and Iraq and former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe in 2007-09 Mr. James McGee for his work in defending human rights and strengthening the electoral process in Zimbabwe. Posthumous award went to Polish diplomat Mariusz Handzlik, who perished in a plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski in April 2000. Special recognition was given also to two other diplomats from Lithuania and India.

Official press release issued by the Council of Community of Democracies


Czech delegation follows the speech of US Secretary of State Ms. Hillary Clinton