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Former US Secretary of State speaks at UCL event

20 September 2010

Dr Madeleine Albright

Former US Secretary of State Dr Madeleine Albright has spoken at an event organised by the Czech, Slovak and Polish ambassadors and the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES).

On the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Dr Albright spoke at a symposium held jointly at the Czech and Slovak embassies about her impressions as a young child in London during the Blitz, when her father was part of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. 

Dr Albright shared the insights and values – freedom, democracy, partnership and human decency – gained from her experience in the international arena over many years and emphasised their continuing importance for the increasingly complex problems facing the world today.

She urged the international audience to heed the advice of Tomáš Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, telling them to: "(Seek harmony) by expecting evil without ever accepting it; by striving for good without ever taking success for granted; and by demanding the most of ourselves while searching for the best in each other."

In his opening remarks on behalf of UCL President and Provost Professor Malcolm Grant, the Director of SSEES, Robin Aizlewood, highlighted the key role played by UCL in academic interaction between the UK and the countries of Central Europe, not least in seeking new ways of developing this interaction. 

He referred to the Visiting Research Fellowship for scholars from the region; the prestigious Erasmus Mundus-supported international master's programme led by UCL SSEES and the keynote speech at UCL by Slovak Prime Minister, Dr Robert Fico last November on the 20th anniversary of 1989.

It was hoped that the symposium would be the first in a biennial Central European Symposium to be hosted at UCL, similar to the Symposium for the Baltic countries which has run very successfully since 2004.

Other speakers included Alexandr Vondra, Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, HE Michael Žantovský, Czech Ambassador to the UK; Greg Hands MP, PPS to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; Professor Robert Pynsent (UCL SSEES); Professor Richard Overy (Exeter); Professor Anita Prazmowska (LSE) and Professor Vojtěch Mastný (Washington).

For more information about SSEES, follow the link above.

Image: Dr Madeleine Albright


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Video: Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico at UCL