AFTER THE FALLb OF communism in 1989, Czechoslovakia and Germany launched a period of reconciliation - both for pragmatic, contemporary reasons and to try to come to terms with problems that had festered, largely unaddressed, since the end of World War II. Germany was obviously the most important contact for Czechoslovakia if it wanted to transform its economy, open up to the West, and integrate with Western European political structures; Germany would be its key partner or sponsor with NATO or the European Union. A promising relationship quickly developed, with German companies providing by far the greatest foreign investment in Czechoslovak firms, and the close personal friendship between presidents Vaclav Havel and Richard von Weizsaecker providing the foundation for political contacts. The newly forged bonds survived the breakup of Czechoslovakia, but political contacts between Germany and the Czech Republic have stagnated since then.

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