Czech Republic–Slovakia relations - Wikipedia
Czechoslovakia was founded in on the democratic ideals of Thomas G. This conflicting experience made the relationship between Czechs and Slovaks, .. divided into two camps and neither was in a position to achieve their goals. Pavel Seifter: Since Czechoslovakia split in , there have been too no deeper sense of being, with no obvious purpose or role to play. The Velvet Revolution in November found Czechoslovakia, which the relationship between the Czech and Slovak political elites was strained. .. referring to the fact the chief goal of the era of post-communism was to.
He also argued that dealing with the past should be based on a public discussion and punishing former top Communists for crimes they had committed, rather than on trusting the archives of the former secret police.
But he lost, and the little discussed past remains a neuralgic point in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The split of Czechoslovakia The past played an important role also in other post-communist developments. In Slovakia the newly arrived democracy empowered not only the people who saw the place of Slovakia in a democratic federation with the Czechs, but also the people who argued that Slovakia should go its own way.
Some of them referred to the period before World War II, during which the relationship between the Czech and Slovak political elites was strained. The argument that the cohabitation of the Czechs and the Slovaks in one federal state was to some extent an artificial construct that could survive after WWII only because of the communist dictatorship that did not recognise Slovak national aspirations was becoming stronger by the day in Slovakia after the first free election in June The second free elections, in Junecreated two very different, basically incompatible political spectrums in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.Slovakia Vs. Czech Republic - Differences w/ Karolina
The federal institutions were paralysed as a result. When Slovakia shortly after the parliamentary election passed its Declaration of Sovereignty Havel decided to resign from the post of Czechoslovak president. Klaus and Meciar then worked in the next six months to split the federation in a peaceful and organised way.
The country officially ceased to exist on 1 January and was replaced by two new states: Because of the peaceful negotiated split, both new countries were recognised as successor states of Czechoslovakia by international organisations, and, as a result, were quickly able to negotiate their accession agreements with the European Union, as well as treaties with other international organisations.
The structure of transformation The reforms of the last 25 years, first in Czechoslovakia, and after in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, can be best analysed in four separate yet interconnected areas: The order in which these four areas of transformation are listed points to the order of difficulty. In other words, while creating a system of free political institutions and processes could be in many ways directed from above, both the successful introduction of a market economy and the establishment of the rule of law required varying levels of civic engagements.
Some political philosophers saw already hundred years ago a market economy as a form of civil society. And the rule of law clearly depends not only on passing good laws, but also on the ability and willingness of people to respect the laws and internalise certain values. There were models in the form of existing democratic systems in the west and, in pre-communist political traditions.
On the other hand, it was also clear that the democratic political system will not work well without political parties. Fortunately, both the Civic Forum in the Czech Republic and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia disintegrated fairly quickly into new political parties. Meciar was using the nationalist rhetoric to introduce an increasingly authoritarian style of rule, provoking in a revolt by the emerging civil society.
Czech Republic and Slovakia 25 Years after the Velvet Revolution: Democracies without Democrats
The emerging Czech political system experienced different problems. The deal, called the opposition agreement, was aimed against President Havel and smaller parties. It, in effect, paralysed some parliamentary procedures, when the Civic Democrats agreed to keep the Social Democrats in power in exchange for dividing the spoils of power with them. The opposition agreement created a corruption-prone environment that later caused major problems in Czech politics. Creating a market economy Economic transformation was a more difficult task than political reforms because, as mentioned above, compared to political institutions, the functioning of a market economy depends more heavily on non-institutional factors.
It is not simply a matter if privatisation and free competition. If it is to work properly, the market needs to be recognised as a form of civil society based on certain virtues, ethical rules and respect for laws. Unfortunately, Czech economic reformers, led by Vaclav Klaus, saw the creation of a market economy more as a mere technical process than a process that also should pay attention to the law and ethics. Under this scheme, all citizens were allowed to purchase a book of vouchers for a symbolic prize and allowed to exchange their vouchers for shares in government-controlled companies.
The scheme suffered from a number of deficiencies, including a lack of transparency and the creation of millions of small shareholders who did not exercise any real control over privatised companies. In the beginning there was also no stock exchange where the shareholders could trade their shares.
Dissolution of Czechoslovakia - Wikipedia
The legal framework was very weak, allowing some so-called investment funds to spring up and buy the vouchers or shares from individuals. Direct sales to foreign and domestic investors were also used, but a lack of domestic capital and a lack of information about the companies which the state tried to sell were obstacles to this process.
Moreover, even direct sales to domestic investors were often dubious schemes, in which state-controlled banks loaned funds to people whose only qualification often was their close relationship with top politicians. Not surprisingly, the privatisation processes both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia were infamously tarnished with corruption and large-scale scandals. The necessary correction came only when both countries applied for EU membership in and, as a result, under pressure from Brussels, had to start introducing additional economic reforms, including the privatisation of major banks.
At any rate, the costs of the economic transformation in both countries were large. For example, the Czech Ministry of Finance estimated in the year that some billion crowns about 35 billion dollars had been lost as a result of fraud, asset stripping and unnecessary bankruptcies.
The rule of law and a civil society The introduction of the rule of law has been more difficult still, depending as it does, not only on the quality of legislation and institutions, such as courts, but on the level of public respect for them.
Czechs and Slovaks: long divorced but still close
Not surprisingly, it has become clear that good institutions and laws do not suffice to build a rule of law; law-abiding citizens are equally important. Respect for the law is directly tied to the maturity of civil society. And this is the most difficult area to reform. The immaturity of civil society is to this day the factor most responsible for the low level of democratic culture in both countries.
It cannot be created from above, by adopting laws, decrees or EU standards. It is an organism that needs to grow from below, from the grass roots.
In other words, a robust civil society is a precondition for the internalisation of democratic values by people.
Although civic groups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have proliferated in the last twenty-five years, the civil society as a whole remains heavily dependent on financial assistance from abroad, as the culture of corporate donations to civic initiatives is still much undeveloped. Entire sectors of civil society across the region also depend on government funding, which makes the very notion of non-governmental organisations NGOs problematic. Equally problematic is the unevenness in the development of various sectors of civil society.
At the same time, it should be noted that Slovakia has done better with regard to the functioning of its civil society than the Czech Republic. Vaclav Havel once remarked that each post-communist country needed a revolution against communism, but each also needed after a few years one against post-communism.
When talking about post-communism, Havel had in mind a socio-political state of affairs in which the institutional foundations of democracy were successfully created, but large parts of society remained rooted in the patterns of behaviour inherited from communism. When the Slovak civil society revolted against Meciar init managed to propel Slovakia more beyond post-communism that the Czechs have managed so far.
Czechs and Slovaks: long divorced but still close | Radio Prague
Despite the fact both countries have suffered from corruption and many other social ills, Slovakia managed to adopt the euro, and in general, has been less problematic for the EU than the Czechs. Liberal democracy as a moving target The development of democratic culture in the region is tied to the notion of liberal democracy, which introduces another level of complexity.
The idea itself contains a contradiction: A certain tension also exists between democracy as the rule of the people and liberalism as the rule of the law. In advanced liberal democracies, the rules of the game are at least as important as the procedural part of democracy, represented most significantly by elections.
Civil society was seen as an enemy of political parties, respect for minorities was low. The rule of law was seen by the first generation of reformers as an obstacle to speedy economic reforms. And it is only getting harder. Democratic development in the region has taken place amid the accelerating process of globalisation, which calls into question the very notion of the nation-state — the foundation upon which liberal democracy first developed.
In the Czech Republic, the most important political parties were created from above, by small groups of newly-born elites. Even some of the historical political parties, such the Social Democrats, were re-established as basically elite projects. In combination with a high level of mistrust among citizens in partisanship after more than 40 years of one-party rule, the creation of parties as elite projects has caused parties to be small and weak.
There are no mass parties, to speak off. In fact, the Communist Party, which inherited a large membership base, remains the largest party in Czech politics. Today, political parties in the Czech Republic and Slovakia often act more as business entities that trade with political influence than defenders of public interests.
The high levels of corruption in both societies have to do with the fact that political parties are often controlled by behind-the-scenes economic interests.
When the privatisation process, which was a source of major corruption, ended, many of the newly created business interests used their close contacts with political parties to manipulate state tenders. According to conservative estimates, some billion Czech crowns, out of some billion the state spends annually on public tenders, disappear one way or the other in this systemic corruption. The institutional weakness of the political parties that presided over the transformation process has led, in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, to the rise of populist movements.
In the last few years, it has tried to act as a social democratic party, but its populist origins are still visible in many ways. I think the two mentalities, the two cultures are very similar and so there is no significant cultural gap between the two of us. And, if we are different, then it is more in terms of who we are as individuals, as people.
It is true that I am different from my husband —much more energetic and lively and impulsive, but we complement each other nicely. And I honestly do not think that it has that much to do with our cultural backgrounds. I think it is more about who we are as individual people.
Will you be speaking Slovak to them and want them to be aware of their cultural heritage? I think the best way would be for him to speak Czech and for me to speak Slovak so that the child is conscious of the two cultural backgrounds; conscious of the different cultural backgrounds that make him or her so to speak.
So I would prefer keeping Slovak so that the child learns Slovak and is bilingual. It is not like I really miss it — when the occasion arises and I feel like doing it then I simply go. So it is not a matter of nostalgia, just something that I love about Slovakia and that is worth seeing and experiencing in Slovakia. And sometimes I miss Slovak. But other than that, I think I am fine. I am not talking about business now but relations on the human level.
Do you feel that Czechs and Slovaks have a very special relationship still or are the bonds coming loose? Merely on the linguistic level I am experiencing it more and more, especially in Prague, though not so much when I am in Moravia. People do not understand you, or they say they do not understand you, and you have to repeat your sentences two or three times before they get your meaning. So on the linguistic level, we are definitely losing the close relationship that must have existed under in the communist era when the two nations were part of the same country.
It IS a different country. Sometimes Czechs will tell me that it was the Slovaks who wanted the divorce. But I am not so sure about that, because, at least the people I know best and those are people from the western part of Slovakia definitely were not in favour of the country splitting.
I think it is a great pity that people were not given the chance to decide in a referendum whether they wanted the split or not.
Because now there is some kind of tension surrounding the issue of who wanted out, with Czechs asking Slovaks —well, why did you want to split, then? I am not convinced that this is precisely how matters stood.