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Czech Government Leaders in Chicago

On May 20-21, Chicago hosted the leaders the 28 NATO member states and dozens of its partner countries for the Summit of the Alliance. The main issues on the table were the transition in Afghanistan, NATO capabilities in the times of austerity and NATO relations with its partners.

The Czech delegation was led by President Vaclav Klaus and also included Prime Minister Petr Necas, Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg and Minister of Defense Alexandr Vondra.

One of the main topics of the discussion for the leaders was the shrinking size of defense budgets in many member countries in the current tough economic times. The states agreed to share some of the capabilities on the regional level in order to improve effeciency. Czech Republic has agreed to join several of these initiatives while playing the leading role in the project of a Multinational Aviation Training Center.

Several documents were passed during the Summit. The most important of them is the final declaration. A declaration on Afghanistan was also passed, as was a document on the Alliance Defense and Deterrence Posture Review. The leaders also agreed to a declaration the NATO capabilities towards the year 2020, and on the fight against terrorism.

On the margins of the Summit, Prime Minister Petr Necas met with the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper. Minister of Defense Alexandr Vondra attended a meeting with his counterparts from the Visegrad Group. Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg held bilateral meetings with his partners from Romania, New Zealand, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan and United Arab Emirates.

After the conclusion of the Summit, President Vaclav Klaus delivered remarks at the Heartland Institute and in the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He also met distinguished faculty and staff of the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.

The Summit presented an opportunity for Czech goverment leaders to meet with the large Czech community from the city of Chicago and the whole state of Illinois. A reception was organized in the Klas restaurant where the compatriots had a chance to talk to Prime Minister Necas, Minister Schwarzenberg and Minister Vondra. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also paid a visit to the event. During the event, Minister of Defense Vondra presented the National Defense Cross to the daughter of Brigadier General Frantisek Moravec for his service to our country.

Minister Vondra laid a wreath at the Czechoslovak National Cemetery in Chicago where he also met the representatives of the local Czech community. President Klaus laid flowers at the Masaryk Memorial at the University of Chicago where he met with local representatives of Sokol and other distinguished members of the local Czech community.

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Czech leaders in Chicago