November 2014 - Friends' lecture in London, organised with the support and co-operation of the Embassy of the Czech Republic

'The Velvet Revolution 25 Years on: An Émigré Perspective'

Havla1989AfterProtestscIrmojohnny Small

The Friends held a lecture evening by Dr. Katya Kocourek, formerly of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, who gave an absorbing and original insight to the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia that brought about the ending of the communist system there.

Dr. Kocourek concentrated on themes in the British media and diplomatic and political circles. Until late 1989 British foreign policy was very guarded about the events unfolding in Central Europe, fearing the possibility of instability in the countries concerned and that a rapid collapse of the communist régimes without any opposition from the Soviet Union could provoke a coup in the Kremlin followed possibly by military intervention.

DRKocourekDr. Kocourek concluded that the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia had been carried out with little diplomatic or political support from Britain or from the European Union as a whole and with little outside pressure for such a fundamental change. She felt that, although the expectations of many Czechs for their post-Communist future had still not been realised, public discussion of the country’s governance was lively and continuing and this was a hopeful sign.

There was a full house in the Czech Embassy and we were pleased that MUDr Antonín Hradílek, Deputy to the Ambassador, and Karolina Scerbej of the Czech Embassy attended the event. 

Wines, beer and canapés were provided by the Embassy and by Vinovitaj Ltd.

Photos: upper, Václav Havel on Wenceslas Square in November 1989, copyright Irmojohnny; lower, Dr Kocourek on the evening of the lecture, copyright J. Sommerlad.