Clinton with President Pavel and his wife Eva. Credit: Bijan Sabet

Former US President Bill Clinton Arrives in Prague

Former US President Bill Clinton arrived in Prague on Saturday night, according to the Czech news portal, which focuses on NATO and security affairs. Clinton will be the main speaker at a conference at Prague Castle on Tuesday entitled ‘Our Security Cannot Be Taken for Granted’. 

Clinton was US president from 1993 to 2001. He has been invited to Prague by Czech President Petr Pavel.

Marking 25 years of Czech membership of NATO, the conference is organised by the Jagello 2000 association. Apart from Clinton, former NATO Secretary General George Robertson, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS) and President Pavel will be among the speakers.

According to the conference organisers, at the beginning of his first term in office, Clinton outlined for the first time in history a vision of a Europe without conflict, undivided and democratic. Ensuring the freedom of Europe by inviting the democracies of Central and Eastern Europe to join NATO was a key point of his vision, and the success of the March 1999 enlargement of the transatlantic alliance to include the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary was a historic step towards its realisation, they said.

President Clinton has visited Prague several times, for the first time as a 24-year-old student in 1970. In January 1994, he said during a meeting with then-Czech President Vaclav Havel that the question was not whether NATO would be enlarged, but when. In October 2021, he attended the Forum 2000 international conference in Prague. and in November 2005 he took part in a meeting of the Club of Madrid, a forum of former heads of state and government. In December 2011, Clinton attended the state funeral of Vaclav Havel.

The organisers said the conference intends not only to assess the 25 years of the Czech Republic in NATO, but also focus on the future of the Alliance, founded 75 years ago, in the context of the dynamic evolution of the security environment and threats.

The speakers at the conference will include Defence Minister Jana Cernochova (ODS) and Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates). Czech opposition representatives will also participate in the discussion, namely ANO deputy chairman Karel Havlicek and Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) leader Tomio Okamura.

The Czech Republic joined NATO on 12 March 1999, together with Poland and Hungary. According to an opinion poll carried by the CVVM institute, published last September, two-thirds of Czechs are satisfied with NATO membership of their country and one-fourth of the population is dissatisfied with it.

Yesterday evening, Clinton took part in an informal social event in the jazz club Reduta in the centre of the city, according to

The event was attended by Czech President Petr Pavel and his wife Eva, former First Lady Dagmar Havlova, Chamber of Deputies Speaker Marketa Pekarova Adamova (TOP 09), Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky (Pirates) and Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (Mayors and Independents, STAN), according to information from CNN Prima News TV and Czech Television.

The Reduta club is connected with Clinton’s second visit to the Czech Republic in January 1994. Accompanied by his host, then Czech President Vavlav Havel, President Clinton then looked at the old Charles Bridge over the Vltava River and afterwards they spent the evening in the Reduta club watching Czech musicians, where Clinton played the new saxophone that Havel had given him.

CNN Prima News reported that Clinton walked across Charles Bridge this time, too. He stayed in Reduta for about an hour and a half.

Czech Television said Clinton recalled yesterday the evening in the club in January 1994, saying it was a very emotional time for him because his mother died five days before.

Clinton said meeting with Havel seemed extremely important for the security of not only the Czech Republic but also the USA. He brought up the current role of the Czech Republic in NATO and in finding artillery ammunition for Ukraine, which has been under Russian aggression for two years.

According to Czech Television, the evening was very informal. Apart from the current politicians, the invitation was extended to former Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, film director Vaclav Marhoul and former associates of Vaclav Havel – including former diplomat Michael Zantovsky, national security advisor Tomas Pojar and MEP Alexandr Vondra (ODS).

According to the server, former Havel’s spokesman Ladislav Spacek and Havel’s photograph Tomki Nemec, former Czech chief-of-staff Jiří Šedivý and former NATO deputy secretary general of the same name were also among the guests.

The server said Clinton also met heavily injured Czech war veteran Lukas Hirka and the Foreign Ministry’s goodwill ambassador, kickboxer Martina Ptáčková. It said Clinton went on the stage, the same as 30 years ago, and he did not play the saxophone but remembered Vaclav Havel.

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