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Mr. Alexandr Vondra
Czech Republic

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Minister of Defence
CZE
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Born in Prague on August 17, 1961, Mr. Vondra graduated from the Charles University in Prague, School of Natural Sciences, Department of Geography, in 1984. One year later, he earned a Doctor of Natural Sciences (RNDr.) degree from the same school.

From the mid-1980s, A. Vondra participated in activities of Czechoslovakia´s democratic opposition, focusing on editorial and publishing work in samizdat (e.g. Revolver Revue) and on cooperation with opposition groups in Central and Eastern Europe (e.g. Polish-Czechoslovak Solidarity). He was also a manager of the rock band Narodni trida. Additionally, between 1985 and 1987, he worked at Prague´s Naprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures. Since he was often the case for identifiable members of the opposition, after signing Charter 77 A. Vondra was forced to work in fields outside of his profession, first as a boiler-man and later as a computer programmer. In 1989, he became a spokesperson for Charter 77. In retaliation for his organisation of demonstrations in January 1989 and for the petition ?A Few Sentences?, he was sentenced to two months in prison. During the Velvet Revolution in November of the same year, he became a co-founder and leading member of the Civic Forum movement.

In 1990-1992, A. Vondra served as a foreign policy advisor to President Vaclav Havel. From August 1992 until March 1997, he served as the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. In 1992, he led a Czech team in negotiations to divide the Czechoslovak diplomatic service. In 1995-1996, he was a chief Czech negotiator in a process of preparing the Czech-German Declaration. He held the Czech policy towards NATO in his portfolio, too. In 1994, he headed a Czech team responsible for implementation of the Czech Republic´s Partnership for Peace Programme, and in 1996, he built and headed a Czech team for pre-accession talks with NATO.

From March 1997 until July 2001, A. Vondra served as Czech Ambassador to the United States. In Washington, D.C., he oversaw the process of the Czech Republic´s integration into NATO, including ratification of the Accession Protocol in the U.S. Senate. From March 2001 till January 2003, Mr. Vondra served as Czech Government Commissioner to the Prague Summit. In this capacity, as a Head of the Czech Task Force, he managed the preparation of the 2002 NATO Summit in Prague, the largest ever gathering held in the Czech Republic. From January until July 2003, Mr. Vondra served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this capacity, he was responsible for the Czech participation in the solution of the Iraq crisis.

In 2003 - 2004, Mr. Vondra was a Transatlantic Fellow in the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., writing a book on recent history of Central and Eastern Europe. Since January 2004, he is also the adjunct professor at NYU in Prague, teaching a regular course on history of relations between Europe and the U.S. He is also a board member of the Program of Atlantic Security Studies (PASS), a newly established think-tank in Prague, as well as President of Czech Euro-Atlantic Council. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Vondra joined Dutko Worldwide, a U.S. consulting company, as its managing director in Prague.

On January 9th 2007, Alexandr Vondra was appointed Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of the Czech Republic.

On July 13th, 2010, he was appointed Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic.

Mr. Vondra has received numerous awards. In November 1999, he was awarded the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy Medal in recognition of his outstanding service in the cause of democracy. In December 2002, he was awarded the Cross of Merit, the highest Czech military decoration, by the Czech Minister of Defence. In 2004, he was awarded the Commander of the Three Stars by President Freiberga of Latvia, and the Cross of Order of Merit by Polish President Kwasniewski. In January 2005, he received the NATO Meritorious Service Medal from the Secretary General of NATO.

Mr. Vondra is fluent in English and Russian, as well as his native Czech. Mr. Vondra is married to Martina Vondrova. They have three children - Vojtech (1991), Anna (1993) and Marie (1996).

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