(Washington, D.C. -- May 16, 2006) In a ceremony recognizing the contribution of the Czech Republic to the ongoing operations of RFE/RL, Inc., Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda presented a check for nearly 1.2 million dollars to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), to augment the costs of relocating the RFE/RL broadcast center outside the city center of Prague.
"It is our moral and political duty to support Radio Free Europe," Svoboda said. RFE/RL "has played an irreplaceable role in the life of my country, by transmitting the values of democracy, human rights and good governance. This is a small contribution that represents a permanent commitment, a political commitment of my country to support RFE/RL, because the fight for democracy is a never ending story." The foreign minister noted in his remarks that hosting RFE/RL is one way the Czech Republic is supporting the war against terrorism, and promoting democracy and democratic values in the world.
BBG Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, along with BBG Governor Steven Simmons, accepted the contribution on behalf of the United States and RFE/RL. Both Tomlinson and Simmons paid tribute to the Czech government for its support of the radios. "In this ceremony today, we have a new generation of leaders to whom we are going to pay tribute in saving Radio Free Europe," Tomlinson said, "and Mister Minister, you're at the top of the list." Tomlinson stressed the importance of RFE/RL's role in promoting freedom and democracy, saying "Today, let's pause to celebrate what these radios are really about: casting the light of truth where there's darkness; reporting the stories of truth to closed societies; providing information so that people in authoritarian societies can make up their own minds and act accordingly." Simmons noted that "this is a great day for RFE/RL, but it is also a great day for Czech-U.S. relations and symbolic of the commitment both of our countries have to our mission."
Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, representing the U.S. Secretary of State, pointed out the value of the relationship between RFE/RL and the Czech Republic, calling it "a unique and invaluable contribution to promoting liberty and freedom of speech around the globe. Since the collapse of communism in Eastern and Central Europe nearly 17 years ago, the relationship between the U.S. and Czech Republic has really undergone a very dramatic evolution to one of alliance and economic partnership."
RFE/RL's relocation will improve security of the station and its surroundings, according to Simmons. Construction of the new building will begin later this year. "With the Bush Administration and Congress and the cooperation of the Czech government, we have gained a new facility that will allow us to call Prague our home for years to come," Simmons said.
Archived audio of the presentation ceremony can be heard in RealAudio
and Windows Media