We are fortunate to have as our distinguished speaker former Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda (1998-2006), whose far-reaching governmental reforms enabled Slovakia to enter NATO and the European Union in 2004. He is currently President of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, the official think tank of the European People’s Party based in Brussels.
The German Marshall Fund (GMF) held a roundtable discussion on, “Trends in Central Europe: Addressing Liberal Democracy” on Sept. 21, 2018 in Washington, DC. The event featured former Slovak Ambassador to the U.S., Rastislav Káčer, who served from 2003-2008. Amb. Káčer currently serves as Chairman, GLOBSEC-Bratislava, a non-governmental organization promoting transatlantic relations and values. The session featured a presentation of recent GLOBSEC public opinion research by Amb. Jakub Wiśniewski, former Polish Ambassador to the OECD, and currently GLOBSEC Vice President and Director of the GLOBSEC Policy Institute. Comments were also provided by GLOBSEC President Robert Vass, and the roundtable was moderated by GMF Senior Fellow Johnathan Katz. FOS Board members Ken Bombara and Richard Marko attended the session along with numerous government, embassy, and NGO representatives.
The GLOBSEC survey covered a representative sample of the population in the ‘V-4’ countries (Czech Rep., Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) during the period Feb/Mar 2018. The survey asked a number of questions about perception of the EU, NATO, Russia and other topics and issues. The data show a complicated picture across the V-4 countries when it comes to these topics. For example, a significant percentage of citizens in the V-4 see their geopolitical position as ‘somewhere between East and West’ with many preferring the West. Slovaks overall however, are showing a slight lean to the East recently, compared with their V-4 neighbors. Slovak youth (aged 18-24) in contrast are substantially leaning away from the East recently. While a bare majority of Slovaks overall perceive the EU as ‘good thing’, Slovak youth are more positive about it. While only 50% of Slovaks would vote in a referendum to ‘stay in NATO, percentages have increased in 2018, particularly among Slovak youth. The GLOBSEC study provides a range of intriguing and nuanced insights and findings. The transatlantic community of nations is facing many challenges. Amb. Káčer believes that increased engagement by the E.U and U.S. will be essential to effectively address current trends in Central Europe and strengthen transatlantic bonds.
Friends of Slovakia (FOS) again this year was one of the sponsors of this Center for European Policy Analysis CEPA Forum concerning security issues involving particularly Central Europe, NATO and Transatlantic cooperation. This year the CEPA Forum was organized under the auspices of the Slovak Presidency of the Visegrad Group (Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, Hungary & Poland) and included presentations by Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak and Slovak Ambassador to Washington Ivan Korcok. A number of FOS Board members and supporters attended. FOS is pleased to draw your attention to this excellent summary of the Forum presentations prepared by CEPA, the leading think tank in Washington with respect to Central European and Baltic security issues.
The Slovak American Society of Washington, D.C.
Friends of Slovakia present:
Saturday, September 29th, 2:00 pm
Columbia Pike Branch Library
816 South Walter Reed Dr.
“Borders on the Move: a Look at Southern Slovakia’s Tumultuous 20th Century” was the subject of an evening lecture at the Slovak Embassy on June 15 sponsored by Friends of Slovakia and the Slovak American Society of Washington DC (SASW). Professor Leslie J. Waters of Randolph-Macon College addressed a full house audience of SASW and FOS supporters. She described the dramatic changes in the Slovak-Hungarian border in 1918 and again in 1938, 1939 and after World War II.
Prof. Waters provided the political context for these changes and described the dramatic impact on local populations suddenly finding themselves ruled by a radically different political regime. Members of the audience, including some who had lived through World War II in Slovakia, had a chance to ask questions and then socialize with Dr. Waters after the lecture.
Slovak Ambassador to Washington Peter Kmec was honored at a Friends of Slovakia farewell reception hosted on May 19 by FOS Treasurer Dr. Eva Jenkins and her husband Robert in their lovely home in Great Falls.
40 guests including FOS and Slovak American Society of Washington members feasted on American BBQ fare with a “touch of Slovakia”. FOS Vice Chairman Ken Bombara presented an elegant tray with an American flag motif to Ambassador Kmec and wished him and his lovely spouse Monika, away in Europe on that date, Godspeed and great future success. FOS Founding Chairman Ambassador Ted Russell (Ret.) then presented Ambassador Kmec with the FOS Medal of Honor for his distinguished service in building ties of Slovak-American cooperation and friendship. Ambassador Kmec responded with a summary of some of his objectives in Washington extending back to his time as Slovak Deputy Chief of Mission when he was instrumental in gaining US Senate support for Slovakia’s 2004 NATO membership bid and moving forward to his successful efforts as Ambassador to increase commercial, political and military security ties between Slovakia and the USA, including extensive travels around our country.
Dear Professors, Alumni/ae, and Potential Scholars:
On behalf of the Friends of Slovakia (FOS), a US based non-profit organization devoted to promoting good relations between Slovakia and the United States, we are writing to inform you of an opportunity that we hope you will bring to the attention of your students and friends. Every summer since 2004, FOS has provided support for Slovak students to participate in the summer programs of the Fund for American Studies (TFAS). Thanks to backing from the Slovak-American Foundation (SAF) and other donors, we are able to sponsor up to five students for the 2017 FOS Slovak Scholars program, which is scheduled to take place from 3 June-28 July. FOS will give special consideration to candidates who are planning a career in business/entrepreneurship, philanthropy, or journalism. All students must meet the criteria set by TFAS in order to be considered for an FOS Scholarship and are also required to meet the program’s English proficiency guidelines. For students demonstrating financial need, scholarships from FOS and TFAS will cover most program costs (including housing), but Slovak students will be responsible for travel costs, living expenses, as well as health care through the George Mason University (GMU) student insurance plan.
Since 2013, the TFAS programs have taken place at GMU’s campus in Arlington, VA, and students are housed at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Participants not only increase their knowledge by attending courses and lectures but also are able to interact with students from many of the top universities in the US, in addition to other international students. Moreover, students hold internships for approximately 30 hours per week, giving them practical work experience in the United States.
Students who are interested should complete their applications as instructed on the TFAS website at www.dcinternships.org. The application deadline for international students is 20 January 2017. A copy of the applications should also be sent by email to Dr. Sharon Wolchik at swolchik at gmail dot com and Dr. Sharon Fisher at sharon dot fisher at ihs dot com. Students may also send a printed copy of their applications to Dr. Sharon Wolchik, IERES, 1957 E Street, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052.
Slovak students who have participated in this program have found it to be extremely beneficial and have remained in touch through groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as regular events in Bratislava. We hope that you will make your students and friends aware of this opportunity and urge those whom you think would benefit to apply. If anyone has additional questions, we would be happy to put potential candidates in touch with previous scholars from Slovakia.
Professor Sharon Wolchik and Dr. Sharon Fisher
Members of the FOS Board of Directors met at lunch with State Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs Lukas Parizek and Ambassador Peter Kmec at the Slovak Embassy September 30 to discuss our cooperation with the Slovak Embassy and the Slovak American Business and Innovation Council aimed at maintaining and strengthening US-Slovak ties of friendship. FOS Board members Sharon Fisher, Ken Bombara and Ted Russell explained FOS programs to State Secretary Parizek, including our flagship summer FOS Slovak Scholars study and internship program conducted by The Fund for American Studies at George Mason University.