Left to Right: Slovak Ambassador Peter Burian, Gail Naughton, Director – NCSML, Dr. Pavel Cernoch, Czech Representative to the EU in Brussels, Sharon Valasek, Honorary Czech Consul, Donald Pafko, Honorary Slovak Consul

By Donald Pafko, Honorary Consul for the Slovak Republic

The annual conference on Czech & Slovak Culture & History was held March 10th-12th, 2011 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, under the sponsorship of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

The conference kicked off with a welcome reception held at the Kosek Building in the Czech Village. Dignitaries who were invited to be presenters at the conference were introduced, and Director Gail Naughton welcomed all conference attendees and promised a very interesting and stimulating conference.

The conference officially began Friday morning, March 11th. Subjects covered on the first day of the conference included a very broad range such as “Czechoslovakia 1989-1992”, “What We Know About Slovakia’s Last Two Decades and Why We Should Care”, “The Czech Republic 1993 to 2011”,. The day concluded with a gala dinner and a presentation entitled “1989-2011 Transitions to Democracy”, featuring Slovak Ambassador Peter Burian, former Slovak Ambassador Martin Butora and Jiri Ellinger, Head of the Political Section, Embassy of the Czech Republic.

Saturday’s conference activities commenced with a welcome by Gail Naughton who gave an update on the status of the new National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Presentations for the second day of the conference included subjects such as “Being Hungarian in Slovakia: The Politics of Minority Rights”, “The Collision of Nationalism, Democratization, and Europeanization in Post Socialist Slovakia”. The day concluded with a gala dinner reception at the Marriott Hotel. Ambassador Adrian Basora, former US Ambassador to Prague, made a presentation entitled “The Velvet Revolution 22 Years Later”.

This concludes a series of conferences dealing with Czech & Slovak Culture & History. Many thanks to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library for promoting and organizing, and sponsoring this every informative and productive conference. I look forward to more of such conferences in the future.