The United States of America stood by the establishment of the independent and democratic state of Czechoslovakia in the year 1918. President Woodrow Wilson supported Tomas G. Masaryk and other patriots in its creation. Tomas G. Masaryk announced the creation of the Czechoslovak Republic in the so called Washington Declaration of October 18, 1918, which was inspired by the founding ideas and documents of the United States.
During World War II, American soldiers also fought for the liberation of Czech lands from Nazi occupation and reestablishment of the sovereignty and independence of Czechoslovakia. Many of them gave their life during the liberation of the Czechoslovakian territory in the spring of 1945.
During the Cold War, the United States led the free world in its efforts to return freedom, independence and democracy to countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Czechoslovakia. Tens of thousands of Czechs and Slovaks who left their communist country found a new home in the United States, from where they continued to struggle for the return of democracy to their homeland.
Thus, the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989 could rely on inspirational and strong heritage in Czech-US relations. Vaclav Havel inaugurated the new era during his first visit to the United States in February of 1990 in his new function as the then President of the newly free Czechoslovakia when he delivered the famous speech to the joint session of the US Congress (the speech can be found here).
In the 1990’s, the strong friendly relations between the US and Czechoslovakia and then the independent Czech Republic since 1993 peaked in the Czech Republic’s integration into NATO in 1999. The Czech Republic’s membership in this Alliance which includes the US is its basic guarantee of security.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Czech Republic proved that it is capable of fulfilling its allied commitments. The Czech Republic partook in the NATO operations in Iraqand has been a member of the ISAF coalition in Afghanistansince 2001.
In November 2008, the US Congress placed the Czech Republic on its list of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program, which establishes a non visa regime between the US and the respective countries, and, thus, removed the last unnecessary barrier to Czech-US relations. The Congressional Czech Caucus, which was founded in both the House of Representatives and Senate of the US Congress in 2008, was valuably instrumental in promoting the inclusion of the Czech Republic in the non visa regime.
The Czech Republic has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and held the EU Presidency in the first half of 2009. During the Presidency, the Czech Republic established contacts with the Obama administration, which came to power in January 2009.
President Obama has already visited the Czech Republic twice. He partook in an informal EU-US summit in Prague during his first European visit in April 2009. Here, he also made his first important foreign policy speech, in which he defined the so called Prague agenda focusing on a heightened effort against the spread of weapons of mass destruction and his long term vision towards a world without nuclear weapons. In April 2010, President Obama signed with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev the New START agreement on significant reductions of the nuclear arsenals of both the US and Russia. During both visits, President Obama met with the highest representatives of the Czech Republic.
The most recent chapter of bilateral relations began with the new Czech government of Prime Minister Petr Necas being named after the parliament elections in May 2010. The relations are based on three main pillars: cooperation in the field of security and defense, economic cooperation, and shared values. US President Obama and Czech Prime Minister Necas met in the White House in October 2011 and confirmed the strong ties between the two countries. The leaders discussed areas such as defense cooperation, civil nuclear research or support for human rights around the world. Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg also discussed these topics during his meetings with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State John Kerry.