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.
Kenneth Bombara, Amb. Kacer, Martina Hrvolova, and Richard Marko
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.
“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. Leslie Waters receives M.R. Stefanik mug from FOS Founding Chairman Ted Russell
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.
Prof. Waters, SASW President Brian Belensky, Amb. Ted Russell (Ret.), Dr. George Mesko.
Left to Right: Katarina Csefalvayova, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of the Slovak Republic; Lucas Parizek, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic; Peter Kmec, Slovak Ambassador to the U.S., ; Tod Sedgwick, former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia; Vince Obsitnik, former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia, display the Pittsburgh Agreement document.
During this special anniversary year of 2018, a number of events have been held, most recently in Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., commemorating the historical events of 100 years ago. The major event, a gala reception commemorating the ‘Pittsburgh Agreement’ was held on May 31 in Pittsburgh, at the Heinz History Center. It was organized by the Slovak and Czech honorary consuls and the embassies of both countries. Nearly 300 attendees and guests heard from local officials and Czech and Slovak government officials commemorating and interpreting the event that took place 100 years ago in downtown Pittsburgh. There, Prof. Thomas G. Masaryk met with representatives of the Slovak-and Czech-American communities to endorse an agreement that Slovaks and Czechs would support the formation of an independent republic following the end of World War I and the dissolution of the Hapsburg Empire. From this ‘Pittsburgh Agreement’ and a number of other keys events, the nation of Czecho-Slovakia (or Czechoslovakia) emerged. The resulting nation experienced both a glorious and torturous path within Europe throughout the middle of the 20th century (1918-1992).
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.
On April 21, Dr. Leff shared her insights about the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968 and the role of the issue of Czech-Slovak institutional relations. She argued that the federalization that survived the Prague Spring had an impact in 1989 … Continue reading →