Meetings Prague is not a newcomer in this specific field. Two events at the turn of the millennium could certainly be counted among some of the most significant international meetings ever held in the Czech capital. In September 2000, the 55th annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank was held here, opened on 26 September by the then-President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel. A total of 182 ministers and governors of central banks of the member countries attended the meeting itself. Some 40 parallel seminars were held during the meeting and, in addition to the ministers already mentioned, some 18,000 official guests also attended.
Two years later, Prague welcomed another prestigious event, the Prague Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO for short), which took place from 21 to 22 November 2002. One of the highlights of the meeting agenda was the invitation of seven more countries to join NATO. The Prague NATO Summit, attended by almost 50 statesmen, was undoubtedly the biggest global event ever hosted by the Czech Republic.
The tradition of holding government summits continues in 2022 by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Prague has already had the honour of hosting the Presidency once, in 2009. However, unlike the above-mentioned summits, this is a long-term event. The Presidency, which the Czech Republic took over from France, lasts six months and involves a great quantity of official and associated conferences and other side events.
The Presidency itself began in July with a gala opening ceremony in Litomyšl. Part of the official programme then moved to Prague, in particular to the Prague Congress Centre (PCC). In the first three months of the Presidency, more than 30 conferences of eight ministries out of the planned sixty were held at the PCC alone. Aleš Pejsar from C-IN, the company that organises official meetings during the Presidency, also comments on the difficulty of organising such a large number of events: “Imagine that to the 40 to 50 meetings that C-IN has planned for 2022, other 77 more events will be added suddenly during the Czech Presidency! Nine people from our company are working intensely on the events, which is a truly admirable performance for such a huge event.”
The highlight of the Czech Presidency was undoubtedly the first-ever meeting of the broader format of European countries, the so-called European Political Community, also known as the Prague Summit. It took place from 6 to 7 October in the representative premises of Prague Castle, with the second day devoted to an informal meeting of the 27 members of the European Council. The organisational preparations for both events took about a month and a half. In the end, the format of the Prague summit was so positively evaluated by the delegates that it will be held in the framework of the next presidencies in 2023.
For the first time in history, leaders from 43 countries met on 6 October to discuss key issues affecting the European continent. In addition to the 26 countries of the European Union, representatives from countries such as Britain, Turkey and Ukraine accepted the invitation, with the President of Ukraine joining remotely. It was the hybrid format of some of the meetings, which required delegates and interpreters to be connected remotely, posing an additional challenge for the organisers and audiovisual service providers. The COSAC meeting at the O2 universum, which was interpreted into 24 world languages, was, among others, a stress test in this respect.
Thanks to the Presidency and the attention that has been focused on the Czech Republic and Prague, it has also been possible to communicate very effectively the modernisation that Prague has undergone in recent years and topics such as sustainability. In the context of the Presidency and its media image, Prague also launched a new website, which serves as a platform for presenting Prague as an important player in the field of international relations. The website will remain active after the Presidency and will continue to serve as a showcase of Prague as an innovative destination in many fields – from artificial intelligence to space technology to cultural and creative industries.
Source: Prague Convention Bureau