Fiala at White House latest visit in line reaching back to Havel

White House

The Czech prime minister, Petr Fiala, is due to visit the White House on Monday for a meeting with US President Joe Biden that officials say will further the relationship between the two countries.

In a statement, the White House said the two leaders would “reaffirm their resolute support for Ukraine” and described Czechia as a stalwart NATO ally.

President Joe Biden shaking hands with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala  (2022) | Photo: Office of Czech Government

Such top level visits have occurred several times since the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia and the return of the Czechs to the democratic fold. Indeed, dissident-turned-president Václav Havel was welcomed to the White House by George Bush Sr. within two months of the former’s inauguration.

Havel’s February 1990 visit to Washington is, however, most remembered for Havel’s address to a specially convened joint session of the United States Congress.

Three years later, in January 1994, Havel was back in the Oval Office, this time at the invitation of Bill Clinton. Another visit by the playwright in 1998, again hosted by Clinton, included a special concert by Havel’s rock star friend Lou Reed.

Václav Havel at US Congress in 1990 | Photo: Czech Television

Another notable visit saw Czech PM Miloš Zeman welcomed at the White House by President George Bush Jr. in 2001. (During a later spell as head of state Mr. Zeman evidently hoped to receive a second invitation to the White House but none was forthcoming.)

In 2008 Mirek Topolánek was heading the Czech government and had the honour of visiting the “Bílý dům”, also as the guest of the younger Bush.

More recently Czech PM Andrej Babiš was invited to the White House in 2019 by President Donald Trump. During the visit Mr. Babiš told his host – in a spin on Mr. Trump’s “MAGA” rhetoric – that he wished “to make the Czech Republic great again.”