Twenty Years of Independence: Reflections on Freedom and Democracy

November 16, 2012 // 12:00pm1:00pm

This Director's Forum will feature Martin Bútora, Honorary President of the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava and former Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States (1999-2003). Ambassador Bútora will deliver the keynote address at the 13th annual Czech and Slovak Freedom Lecture - Twenty Years of Independence: Reflections on Freedom and Democracy.

Martin Bútora is presently an Honorary President of the Institute for Public Affairs and Program Director of ‘European Integration and Transatlantic Relations’ Program. In the past he has worked as a university teacher, diplomat, and was the ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States (1999-2003). Mr. Bútora is a graduate of the Faculty of Arts of the Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia, holding a degree in sociology. In the late sixties, he was active as an editor-in-chief of student newspapers “Echo bratislavských vysokoškolákov” [Echo of Bratislava’s University Students] and later as a deputy-chief editor of Reflex magazine and the weekly publication “Kultúrny život” [Cultural Life]. In November 1989, Mr. Bútora was one of the founders of the political movement Public Against Violence. In the spring of 1990, as a member of its Coordinating Committee (KC VPN) he took part in crafting the Movement’s election program – Chance for Slovakia. In the period 1990- 1992, he held the position of a Human Rights Advisor to the President of Czech and Slovak Federal Republic Václav Havel, and the post of Director of the Human Rights Section in the Office of the President. At the beginning of the nineties, he taught at Charles University in Prague (where he has held a position as Professor Habilis since 1992); later, he taught at the Department of Political Science, Trnava University (1993 – 1998). In 1997 he co-founded the Institute for Public Affairs and served as its first president. Mr. Bútora is the author of three monographs, several TV programs, and film scripts, as well as the translator of theatrical plays. In 1999, the National Endowment for Democracy based in Washington D.C. awarded him the Democracy Service Medal; in 2000 he received the Ján Papánek medal; and in 2002 the Celebration of Freedom Award by the American Jewish Committee. In the same year, he received the Order of Ľudovít Štúr for his contribution to the defense of human rights and the development of civil society from the hands of the President of the Slovak Republic.

This lecture is made possible with the support of the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, the Embassy of the Czech Republic, the Friends of Slovakia and the American Friends of the Czech Republic.


6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
Event Speakers List: 
  • Honorary President of the Institute for Public Affairs in Bratislava and former Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States (1999-2003).
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    Event Resources: 

    Previous Czech & Slovak Freedom Lectures:

    1. Michael Novak 11/9/2000 - “The Struggle for Freedom 10 Years After in the Czech and Slovak Republics”

    2. Madeleine Albright 11/19/2001 - "Central European – US Relations"

    3. Adam Michnik 12/5/2002 -  “The Czech and Slovak Legacy in the Struggle for Freedom”

    4. Vaclav Klaus 11/19/03 - "The Czech Republic and the EU"

    5. Timothy Garton Ash 11/11/04 - “What Velvet Revolutions Now”

    6. Martin Palous 11/17/05 - “Czech-US Relations at the Beginning of the 21st Century”

    7. Ivan Miklos 11/13/06 - “The Political Economy of Reforms in the Slovak Experience: Do Reformers Have to Lose?”

    8. Alexandr Vondra 11/16/07 -  “ The EU and US in the 21st Century: What Identity for Transatlantic Relations”

    9. Jan Kubis 11/21/08 -  "Strengthening U.S. - Slovak Relations and the Transatlantic Partnership: Opportunities and Challenges in Today's World"

    10.  Miroslav Topolanek 12/10/09  - "Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution

    11. Iveta Radicova 11/10/2010 -  "Freedom, Democracy and Prosperity in Central Europe: Story of Transformation and Integration of Slovakia"

     12. Petr Pithart 11/17/2011  - " Does the Czech Constitution Provide a Solid Base for the Nation’s Political Health in Comparison with the U.S. Constitution?"

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    Experts & Staff

    • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
    • Emily R. Buss // Program Assistant

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