On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, a forum titled Velvet @ 30: A Legacy to Uphold was held at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The forum was co-sponsored by the Czech and Slovak Embassies in collaboration with Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. The event featured welcoming remarks by Joel Hellman, Dean of the Walsh School, Slovak Ambassador Korčok, and Czech Ambassador Kmoníček. A panel discussion was held between former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the U.S., Martin Palouš. They discussed their experiences of the events of 1989 and provided a perspective on the significance of the events.
The first panel discussed “How the Velvet Revolution Changed Our World.” Simon Pánek, a student leader during the Velvet Revolution, Martin Bútora, former Slovak Ambassador to the U.S., co-founder of the Slovak-based civic movement Public Against Violence and Friends of Slovakia’s Board Member, and Angela Stent, Georgetown Professor of Government and Foreign Service, discussed the 1989 period and its implications. The panel discussion was moderated by Gregory Feifer, Executive Director of the Institute of Current World Affairs in Washington, D.C.
The second panel, “Fight for Freedom Never Ends: Velvet Revolution’s Legacy for Today and Tomorrow,” sought to view current events in light of lessons learned and point a way forward given contemporary challenges to freedom and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and elsewhere. The panel featured Katarína Cséfalvayová, Chairwoman of the Slovak Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Václav Bartuška, a former Velvet Revolution student leader and current Czech Ambassador for Energy Security, and Jamie Fly, President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The panel discussion was moderated by František Šebej, former Chairman of the Slovak Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee.