In an Op-Ed for the Washington Post, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, former chief of staff to the legendary Vaclav Havel, remembers the hopes of the late Czech President that Burma would transition to democracy. Moreover, he recalls Havel’s “silly” wish to present Aung San Suu Kyi with a rose when she was freed from her imprisonment. While the former Czech president’s declining health prevented him from accomplishing this goal, Schwarzenberg was able to realize his old friend’s dream posthumously when he presented Aung San Suu Kyi with a glass-encased rose from Havel’s grave. In all, Schwarzenberg believes that the Czech transition offers lessons for Burmese democracy, and reminds the international community to be patient with Burma as, after decades of military rule, the ideas of freedom, democracy, and rule of law will require sustained support to solidify.
Watch Karel Schwarzenberg remember the struggles of dissidents in Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia during his Freedom Collection interview.