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A Czech Divorce from the West?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 7, 2017, 19:00 – 21:00

“Europe is no longer the conductor of the global orchestra. But this does not mean it has played out its role and has nothing to say to the world any more.” (Václav Havel, Aachen, 1996)

For a millennium Czechs have helped shape the West, which is not a geographical entity but one of values, mentality and civilisation. However, since the start of the 19th century, when the modern Czech political nation began to emerge, we have gone through efforts to “divorce” from the West, against which we have defined ourselves to lesser or greater degrees, in a strange ultra-Slavonic intoxication. A geo-political divorce was enacted in the years 1945–1948, when we became part of the Soviet empire. After 1989 it appeared that this anti-Western and anti-European “divorce syndrome” had been surmounted. However, in recent years it has reared its head in Czech society once again. What are the roots of this phenomenon? And what role can it play in the volatile Western community of the end of the second decade of the 21st century?

Issues surrounding the Czech relationship with the West will be discussed by historian and philosopher Petr Hlaváček, author of the recently published Západ, nebo Východ? České reflexe Evropy 1918–1948 (West or East? Czech reflections on Europe, 1918–1948), political geographer Michael Romancov and journalist Kateřina Šafaříková, who covers current European issues. 

Debate chaired by Michael Žantovský.


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