Op 1 maart 1977 vond in Hotel Continental in Praag een gesprek plaats tussen Max van der Stoel en Jan Patočka. De omstandigheden waren beklemmend. De (geheime) politie stond klaar om in te grijpen, maar gezien Max van der Stoel een buitenlandse hoogwaardigheidsbekleder was, moest deze pas op de plaats houden. Na het gesprek werd Jan Patočka gearresteerd, en de geplande officiële ontmoeting met de Tsjecho-Slowaakse minister-president werd afgezegd.
Het gesprek was in het Duits. Hier de Engelse versie.

Patocka in gesprek met Max van der Stoel in Praag in 1977

Foto uit 1977, links minister Max van der Stoel, rechts Jan Patočka. In het midden, Dick Verkijk, geëmotioneerd met zijn rechter hand tegen zijn voorhoofd, en in zijn linkerhand de microfoon.

Patočka: I am Charter spokesman, but … actually, up to now, I have done more writing than speaking. In order to explain Charter 77, its meaning, to avoid certain misunderstandings that have been largely diffused, in particular in the big campaign that has ·been waged against the Charter. Above all, we are in no way political ‘dissenters’, we are against this label and against what it names. We stand on the ground of this State and its laws. We are not aiming at any constitutional changes or projects. What interests us is the modus procedendi, enforcing valid Czechoslovak laws.

Experience has taught us that when we address our complaints only to Czechoslovak authorities, the complaints fall flat, and this has persuaded us [a telephone rings], as a safeguard, to inform the accredited press agencies here of our appeals at the same, time as the highest Czechoslovak authorities. This and this alone is the reason why the Charter too was announced to these agencies, but strangely enough we are being blamed -it’s used as a kind of prime argument-because a French newspaper published the document a few hours before it was scheduled to be handed over to officials here. We have been reproached with this over and over again, though over and over again we have pointed out that this method, used for putting us off, presents something incidental as essential and brings the non-esseniral to the fore. Those are just a few remarks about our way of proceding …

Max van der Stoel: Thank you very much. I appreciate your explaining your views. I myself have two things to say. First of all, no government has naturally the right to interfere in the internal affairs of foreign States. On the other hand, the government of the Netherlands. and not only the government of the Netherlands, insists on the full application of the Helsinki Final Act in all its various aspects … all aspects. I wish to reaffirm that, and I stand on reaffirming it also to you.

Patočka: I thank you quite specially for this explanation … which is not only important, but also hugely morally strengthening for us. We shall never … deviate from the path of the law, we shall never do anything in violation of Czechoslovak legislation, and we … it is our common commitment to strive for legality and … and respect… unconditional respect of all signed, published and … and ratified Czechoslovak laws.

Max van der Stoel: Thank you very much.

Professor Jan Patočka was ziek toen hij het gesprek met Max van de Stoel aanging. De journalist Dick Verkijk, die dit gesprek had gearrangeerd, was hiervan niet op de hoogte. Korte tijd na dit gesprek werd professor Jan Patočka door de communistische politie opgepakt en hardhandig verhoord. Op 13 maart 1977 overleed Jan Patočka in de politiecel.