Nezavisle ceske elektronicke noviny
Leto - 2000For translation into Czech - Click here
US President Clinton, Czech President Havel & Tom Brokaw
Czecho-Americans to Honor Albright
September 7th at a gala dinner at the NYC Plaza Hotel
by Josef Schrabal
The first female US Secretary of State and the highest ranking woman in this administration Madeleine Korbel Albright will be presented on September 7th at the NYC Gala Plaza Hotel by Czech President Vaclav Havel with the AFoCR (American Friends of the Czech Republic) Civil Society Vision Award for her contribution to international justice and human rights. US President Clinton will assist as Honorary Co-Chairman. NBC News anchorman Tom Brokaw will be Master of ceremonies and will present excerpts from his book The Greatest Generation about the valor of Americans in WW-II.
The program will include an address by Havel, an acceptance speech by Albright, musical entertainment, and a tribute to Czechs who have contributed to America.
For reservations and accommodation information, please click below to respond online:
Who is she ? Do Americans really like her? Why many Czech exiles dislike her ? US-Czech Citizenship treaty issue Would she become President of the Czech Republic?
Who is she? (for official biography - click here)
She was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on May 15th, 1937 as Marie Jana Korbel(ova) with a pet name "Madlenka". (horoscope - Leo) Her father Josef Korbel, origin from Letohrad (Kingsberg), was born in 1909 and mother Anna, born as Spiegel from Kostelec nad Orlici. She has a brother, John Korbel and sister Kathy (now Silva) born in London in 1942.
In 1938 the family left before Nazi's invasion of Czechoslovakia for London. Her father Josef then worked for the government of the Free Czechoslovakia under Edward Benes. With them was living also the first cousin, Dagmar Deimlova, (now Simova), 9 years older than Marie Jana (Madeleine) who was then only 2 years old.
After the war in 1945 the family returned back to Prague and father Josef was assigned as a Czech Ambassador to Tito's Yugoslavia. He felt the environment there was unsafe for his daughter and therefore sent her to a French girl's school in Switzerland. Here she got her nickname "Madeleine" which she then officially adopted when ten years old.
Madlenka in "pistansky" costume
After the 1948 communist cup in Czechoslovakia the new (communist) Foreign Ministry Vladimir Clementis assigned her father Josef to the United Nations' Committee on Kashmir. The entire family arrived to New York in November 1948 [except for their first cousin Dagmar. Dagmar remained in the communist Czechoslovakia and worked during the "Cold War" for the official (communist) CTK (Czechoslovak Press Office).] Shortly thereafter her father resigned his official diplomatic position and declared himself an exile.In 1949 her father Josef was accepted as professor at the GSIS (Graduate School of International Studies) of Denver University (Colorado), and in 1959 became its Dean. He wrote a very anticommunist book but later, during the Vietnam War, he reoriented himself to the left, suggesting ending the war by giving the Vietnam's government to the communists. He was known also as a very successful "fundraiser". He died in 1977 and the DU School adopted his name.
Despite her family being Judaic (for more details click here) , she was christen (as Marie Jana) and educated as a roman-catholic. (This was quite frequent in Central Europe those days.) She changed her religion (to Episcopalian) in 1959, when she married Josef Albright, a rich journalist and publisher. (She met him while intern in the Denver Post morgue). They had three daughters (twins Alice and Anne in 1961, Katie, 1967) and he divorced her in 1983.
In 1949 Madeleine received a scholarship for the Wellesley (in Boston, one of the seven sister female colleges - "the best" they say) where Hillary Clinton graduated ten years later. After earning a BA with honors in Political Science, she studied at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She continued her study at the Columbia University (1968 - 1976), received a Certificate from the Russian Institute at the Columbia University, and her Masters and Doctorate from the Columbia University's Department of Public Law and Government. (The Role of the Press in Political Change: Czechoslovakia 1968 DAI-A 37/06, p. 3885, 1976, 413 pages)
From the Wellesley yearbook (1959)
At the Columbia University she was an assistant to professor Zbigniev Brzezinsky, that time foreign policy adviser to US President Jimmy Carter. Then she was helping Brzezinsky as his presidential and congressional liaison. She was closely associated with Senator Edmund Muskie. While teaching at the Georgetown University she was adviser to Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton during his candidacy to the White House.
While US Permanent Representative to the U.N., she provided support, encouragement and counsel to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in their efforts to join NATO.
She formerly served as President of the Center for National Policy, a nonprofit research organization devoted to promoting the study and discussion of domestic and international issues. As a Research Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, she taught international affairs, U.S. foreign policy, Russian foreign policy, and Central and Eastern European politics. As Director of Georgetown's Women in Foreign Service Program she developed and implemented programs to enhance women's professional opportunities and international affairs.
Albright with her daughters (from left) Alice, Anne, Katie
She also served as a Senior Fellow in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, conducting research in developments and trends in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
In introducing Albright at the Seattle WTO Conference, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said: "By training she is a scholar; by career a diplomat and public servant; by temperament, conviction, and life experience, an unswerving advocate of the principles of ... freedom, fairness, opportunity, the rule of law, and open society...She has played a central part in, among many other historic events, the rebirth of freedom throughout Central Europe."
Do Americans really like her?
According to the Pew Research Center she is considered to be the "Star of Washington" and 65% view her favorably, 14% not.
When she was nominated as the US Secretary of State, Czech paper Newyorske listy (Czech Newyorker) welcomed her as a "Tough lady with guts"
Why many Czech exiles dislike her ?
The truly Czech exiles object Albright to be labeled as a "refugee". They argue that when she was two years old in 1939 the family was leaving the Czechoslovakia in a train with diplomatic passports (over Yougoslavia, Greece and France).
Similarly, after the communist's revolution in 1948, Albright's father Josef Korbel continued to serve under the communist Foreign Ministry Vladimir Clementis who nominated him as a representative to the United Nations Committee on Kashmir. (Korbel helped Clementis politically while in London during the War.)They were not escaping over minefields or over a barbed wires as most of the other political refugees did but used a luxury ships "Queen Mary" and "S.S. America" first class paid for by Czech communist money and under a diplomatic (communist) passport arrived to New York in November 1948. (He was not known within the Czech refugee anticommunist groups in the US and diplomatic circles.)
Being labeled by media as "exile" or as a "refugee", when President Clinton elevated her from "consultant", "advisor", "assistant" and similar supportive positions, to the first on her own, and presented her in Little Rock in December 1992 to the media as a member of his cabinet, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Albright in her acceptance speach (written in longhand on a yellow legal pad) referred to herself as a Czech immigrant.
She is also being accused of failing to vigorously promote interest of Czech refugees who lost their Czech citizenship and all what belonged to them was confiscated by the communist regime. Now the Czech Republic is refusing to return the Citizenship and the stolen properties. She is being requested to intervene not only as being of Czech origin but namely as an American Secretary for benefit of American citizens. (Unofficial listing of stolen properties by communists.)
Here is an issue whether Albright still is also a Czech Citizen. There was a (July 16th) 1928 Treaty between the U.S. and the Czechs that if any citizen obtains a citizenship of the other party, the original citizenship is automatically lost - however with a provision that this agreement would be suspended during a war. For practicality, this treaty was suspended till mid (May 7th) of 1957. Albright entered the US in 1948 as a minor, 13 years old and if she became a US Citizen before 1957, she still has a valid citizenship of the Czech Republic.(March 25th and August 14, 1957.) - For explanation, the US did not honor this treaty for several decades because of the US Supreme Court ruling that the US Citizenship cannot be lost automatically. But the Czechs were enforcing it until recently when the treaty was officially terminated. (September 19, 1997)
Would she become President of the Czech Republic?
It is generally well known that Albright has a friendship with the Czech President Vaclav Havel. His term in office will expire next year and he will not run for reelection, he announced. When asked whom he (Havel) would like to see to succeed him in Presidency, he mentioned (among other names) Madeleine Albright. She rejected that suggestion stating that she has no ambition to run for office of the Czech President.
The first issue would be if she could become the First lady of a foreign state. Here is a conflict of interest and a possible conflict of loyalty. The author of this article believes that there was not any violation of constitutional rules (as some are alleging). (Click here for more details.)
Many open-minded Czechs back in the Republic see the proposition on Albricht's presidency same as Havel: consider it excellent, because into this rather stale provincial environment this would open the door to the world by someone who knows the world well, understands it and would be able to act. The majority of the Czech people probably oppose the proposition claiming that Albright/Korbel is a total foreigner. They claim that despite being born in Prague, she never lived in the Czech country, was not educated in Czech schools and just cannot understand the present mentality of the Czech people. (Author believes that exactly this is her biggest advantage over the present Czech politicians and economy.)
Official biography Madeleine Albright Read biographies and reports on the remarkable woman Madeleine Albright: houzevnata zena s odvahou (Tough lady with guts) 12/96 Horoscope - Leo Visiting Czech Republic March 5 - 8, 2000 and happenings Albright Pays Tribute to Václav Havel Private web-page Czech Presidency: Must play by constitutional rules The Pizzazz of Madeleine Albright
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