On March 1, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands H.E. Mr. Ed W.V.M. Hoeks unveiled the Max van der Stoel Memorial, created by Czech artist Dominik Lang, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the historic meeting between former Dutch foreign minister Max van der Stoel and Charter 77 spokesman Jan Patočka. Forty years ago, on March 1, 1977, this meeting represented a significant milestone on the long path towards democracy in Czechoslovakia.
In March 1977 Max van der Stoel became the first Western high-ranking politician to meet with representatives of Charter 77. This meeting marked an important milestone in the long walk to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, by signalling to the communist regime that Western governments were no longer reluctant to meet with dissidents. At the time, the meeting between Max van der Stoel and Jan Patočka sparked outrage among the Czechoslovak socialist government, moving then president Gustáv Husák to cancel an appointment with minister Van der Stoel. The meeting was also publicly condemned in the party newspapers.
The memorial was commissioned by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Czech Republic.