History Files
 

European Kingdoms

Central Europe

 

Slovakia

The mainly mountainous territory of today's Slovakia lies in eastern Central Europe, with Czechia to its immediate west and Hungary to the south. The West Slavic ancestors of the Slovaks arrived in several migratory pulses during the fifth and sixth centuries AD, but they never managed to form a state of their own once their initial tribal existence was ended.

In 907, the Magyars of the newly-formed kingdom of Hungary gained control over them. It was little less than a century later when, in AD 1000, the Magyars gained recognition for their kingdom, with the Slovaks and the emerging region of Slovakia forming part of that kingdom.

Duke Bolesław I Chobry 'the Brave' of Poland inherited Slovakia between 1003 and the duchy's fracturing in 1031, but after that it returned to Hungary. It remained a Hungarian possession even after the latter's sixteenth century incorporation into the Austrian empire.

There it remained until Austria-Hungary's collapse at the conclusion of the First World War. The new state of Czechoslovakia was declared on 28 October 1918 from the merging of Bohemia and Moravia, plus Czech Silesia and the Hungarian Slovak territory.

The Second World War and subsequent communist domination which ended in 1989 led to the 'velvet divorce' of January 1993 which finally separated Czechoslovakia into its two constituent parts. A fully independent Slovakia was able to emerge for the first time in history.

Bohemia

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from Carpathian Ruthenia and the Czechoslovak Republic, Kamil Krofta (1934), from Hitler and Czechoslovakia in World War II: Domination and Retaliation, Patrick Crowhurst, from The First World War, John Keegan (Vintage Books, 2000), from Poland: A Historical Atlas, Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski (New York, 1987), from Hammond Historical Atlas (Maplewood, New Jersey, 1963), and from External Link: Slovakia (Rulers.org).)

Slovak Soviet Republic (Slovakia)
AD 1919

The West Slavic ancestors of the Slovaks had arrived in eastern Central Europe during the fifth and sixth centuries AD. In 907, they found themselves falling under the domination of the Magyars of the newly-formed kingdom of Hungary. A brief switch to control by the duchy of Poland between 1003-1031 was the only change to this status. After that the Slovaks remained under Hungarian control even after the latter's sixteenth century incorporation into the Austrian empire.

There they both remained until Austria-Hungary's collapse at the conclusion of the First World War. The new state of Czechoslovakia was declared on 28 October 1918 from the merging of Bohemia and Moravia, plus Czech Silesia and the Hungarian Slovak territory. Initial borders were based largely on historical regions, but in 1919 Czechoslovakia occupied Cieszyn (today in southern Poland).

Then in March 1919, the 'Republic of Verkhovyna' (now in western Ukraine, near the border with northern Romania) joined local councils to create a sub-Carpathian territory which negotiated and obtained union with Czechoslovakia as an autonomous province on 15 March 1919.

Others were also inspired by the fluidity of controls and borders in this tumultuous period following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The gradual establishment of Soviet dominance to the east had encouraged similar movements elsewhere, although few in the west had any real following at this time.

Between 16 June and 7 July 1919 Slovak communists rebelled against Czechoslovakian central authority with help from Hungarian communists. Headquartered in Prešov, they formed the short-lived 'Slovak Soviet Republic'.

Bohemia

(Information by the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information by Peter Kessler, from Carpathian Ruthenia and the Czechoslovak Republic, Kamil Krofta (1934), from Hitler and Czechoslovakia in World War II: Domination and Retaliation, Patrick Crowhurst, from The First World War, John Keegan (Vintage Books, 2000), from Poland: A Historical Atlas, Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski (New York, 1987), from Hammond Historical Atlas (Maplewood, New Jersey, 1963), and from External Links: BBC Country Profiles, and Slovakia (Rulers.org).)

1918 - 1919

Austria-Hungary is failing fast. Its loyal subjects are tired of the First World War and its many non-German and non-Hungarian peoples are becoming increasingly nationalist in thought and deed. Realising the inevitability of the break-up of the empire, on 16 October the emperor issues a manifesto to his people which, in effect, transfers the state into a federation of nationalities. He is too late.

Prague in October 1918
October 1918 was a month of turmoil and rapid change in the collapsing empire of Austria-Hungary, with this photo of Prague capturing a mass rally in support of Czech independence

On 28 October the Czecho-Slovak 'First Republic' is declared in Prague. The new state incorporates the former Bohemian crown and its appendages (Bohemia, Moravia, and southernmost Silesia), along with parts of the former kingdom of Hungary (Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia), and with significant German, Hungarian, Polish, and Ruthenian-speaking minorities.

1919

Between 16 June and 7 July, communists rebel against Czechoslovakian central authority at Prešov, forming the short-lived 'Slovak Soviet Republic'. Between 16-20 June 1919, a Soviet revolutionary executive committee is formed and operates, consisting of no fewer than eleven members.

1919

Ján Vavrica

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Jozef Varecha

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Antonín Janousek

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Stefan Stehlík

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Samuel Capó

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Ludovít Jakab

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Ernest Pór

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Frantisek Fehér

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Stefan Mokrán

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Gustáv Fleischer

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

Josef Cápai

Member of the revolutionary executive committee.

1919

On 20 June 1919, Antonín Janousek, journalist and member of the revolutionary executive committee, becomes chairman of the revolutionary governing council, which is also referred to as the 'Council of the People's Commissioners'.

Presov, 1919, proclaiming the Slovak Soviet Republic
The council of the Slovak Soviet Republic was formed in Prešov town hall on 16 June 1919, with the republic lasting all of five weeks before it was terminated

1919

Antonín Janousek

Chairman of the revolutionary governing council.

1919

The dream of Janousek and his colleagues in Prešov of creating a Soviet republic are terminated on 7 July 1919. Prešov is reunited with the rest of Slovakia which is already a part of Czechoslovakia.

The two remain united throughout the imposition of communism and into the immediate post-communist period. A peaceful separation is agreed in 1993, forming the independent republics of Czechia and Slovakia.

Modern Slovakia
AD 1993 - Present Day
Incorporating Heads of State (1993-2024)

Two landlocked nation states with a shared past, Czechia and Slovakia are located side-by-side in eastern Central Europe. Slovakia is a parliamentary democratic republic, with its capital in the city of Bratislava. To the north-east of the state's borders is Poland, to the very east of Slovakia is Ukraine, to the south of Slovakia is Hungary and south of Czechia is Austria, while to the west and north-west of Czechia is Germany.

The West Slavic ancestors of the Slovaks arrived in the region in several pulses during the fifth and sixth centuries AD. In 907, the Magyars of the newly-formed kingdom of Hungary gained control over the Slovaks. In 1000, the Magyars gained recognition for their kingdom with the Slovaks, and the emerging region of Slovakia, forming a part.

Duke Bolesław I Chobry 'the Brave' of Poland inherited Slovakia between 1003 and the duchy's fracturing in 1031, but after that it returned to Hungary. It remained a Hungarian possession even after the latter's sixteenth century incorporation into the Austrian empire.

There they both remained until Austria-Hungary's collapse at the conclusion of the First World War. The new state of Czechoslovakia was declared on 28 October 1918 from the merging of Bohemia and Moravia, plus Czech Silesia and the Hungarian Slovak territory.

A brief flirtation with independence as the 'Slovak Soviet Republic' in 1919 came to nothing. The Second World War and subsequent communist domination which ended in 1989 led to the 'velvet divorce' of January 1993 which finally separated Czechoslovakia into its two constituent parts. A fully independent Slovakia was able to emerge for the first time in history.

The country's head of government - the prime minister - holds the most executive power, while the head of state - the president - is the formal head of the executive, but with very limited powers. Slovakia, along with many other former 'Eastern Bloc' states, joined the European Union in 2004. Since it gained full independence from Czechoslovakia, Slovakia has increasingly favoured modern industrial infrastructure, but it still offers breathtaking views of wine-growing valleys, picturesque castles, and historical cities.

Bohemia

(Information by Peter Kessler and the John De Cleene Archive, with additional information from Carpathian Ruthenia and the Czechoslovak Republic, Kamil Krofta (1934), from Hitler and Czechoslovakia in World War II: Domination and Retaliation, Patrick Crowhurst, from The First World War, John Keegan (Vintage Books, 2000), from Poland: A Historical Atlas, Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski (New York, 1987), from Hammond Historical Atlas (Maplewood, New Jersey, 1963), from Washington Post (2 March 1998), and from External Links: The United Nations Terminology Database (UNTERM), and BBC Country Profiles, and Slovakia (Rulers.org), and Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB), and Slovakia (Zárate's Political Collections (ZPC)), and Slovakia (European Union), and Slovakia (Encyclopaedia Britannica), and Ukraine's refugee crisis (The Guardian), and Pellegrini wins Slovakian presidential election (The Guardian).)

1993

Vladimír Meciar

Acting president (Jan-Mar). Movmt for Dem Slovakia (HZDS).

1993

While serving as acting president between January and March 1993, Vladimír Meciar also serves in the same role between March and October 1998, and is the country's prime minister in 1990-1991, 1992 to March 1994, and December 1994 to 1998.

Bratislava Castle in Slovakia
A string of neo-liberal, free market reforms transformed Slovakia so swiftly and profoundly that, by 2004, it had joined Nato and the EU and earned the nickname the 'Tatra tiger' after its mountains

Right now, Slovakia is more rural and less economically diversified than its Czech neighbour, which has roughly twice Slovakia's population. The process of privatisation which has characterised Czechia and many other former 'Eastern Bloc' states since 1989 has seen much slower progress here.

1993 - 1998

Michal Kovác

President (Mar-Mar). No party.

1995

The 'Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with Hungary' is signed in March, guaranteeing the existing border and ethnic minority rights. In November, however, a new law is introduced which restricts the official use of any language other than Slovak. The move generates a degree of international condemnation.

1998 - 1999

President Kovác's term of office expires on 2 March. However, with the country's parliament deadlocked over the selection of a replacement, Prime Minister Vladimír Meciar serves as acting president until 3 August. This constitutional crisis leads directly to the passing of a new law in January 1999 which makes the position of president a directly-electable one by the general population.

Tatra Mountains
The Tatra Mountains are part of the Carpathian mountain chain, and today the 'Higher Tatra' section forms part of the border with Poland

1998

Vladimír Meciar

Acting president (Mar-Oct). HZDS.

1998 - 1999

Mikulás Dzurinda

Acting president (Oct 1998). Christian Dem Movement (KDH).

1999 - 2004

Rudolf Schuster

President. Party of Civic Understanding (SOP). No party.

2004

Along with a large section of former Soviet-occupied Eastern European states, Czechia and Slovakia become members of the European Union. Slovakia also joins Nato, which Czechia had entered in 1999.

2004 - 2014

Ivan Gašparovi

President. Movement for Democracy (HZD). Then no party.

2009

Having embraced its membership of the European Union, Slovakia now adopts the euro as its official currency, beating Czechia to this particular advance.

Modern Prague
Modern Prague, former capital of the kingdom of Bohemia but largely rebuilt after the Second World War, is focussed around the broad span of the River Vltava which divides the city in two - the labyrinthine Old Town behind the camera and Hradcany, the home of Prague's imposing hilltop castle

2010 - 2014

In August the Slovak parliament refuses to pay its share of contributions towards the European Union's joint IMF bailout fund for Greece during its financial crisis. Slovak politicians argue that their country is one of the poorest in the euro zone and should not be expected to finance the mismanagement of its richer neighbours.

This sentiment comes to the fore in October 2011, when a no-confidence vote over the expansion of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), the euro zone's primary bailout mechanism, topples the Radičová government and indirectly leads to the election of a first-time politician to the post of president in 2014.

2014 - 2019

Andrej Kiska

President. No party. Declined to re-seek office in 2019.

2019

Pro-EU opposition candidate, Zuzana Čaputová, defeats the government's Maroš Šefčovič in the second round of the March 2019 presidential elections, with fifty-eight percent of the vote. A progressive, liberal politician, solicitor, and environmental activist, she takes office in June 2019.

Zuzana Čaputová, first female president of Slovakia
An anti-corruption campaigner with no experience of public office won the 2019 elections for the position of Slovakia's president

2019 - 2024

Zuzana Čaputová

First female president. Progressive Slovakia (PS).

2022

On Monday 22 February, Russia recognises the independence of its own artificially-created breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. Almost immediately afterwards, Russian troops invade Ukraine after having massed along its borders (and even its Belarussian border). The invasion plan immediately falters quite spectacularly.

The Slovakia border with Ukraine at Ubla sees heavy use as Ukrainians - women and children mainly - head for safety to this and the other countries which form Ukraine's western border. All of them have a degree of shared history with Ukraine, and all of them openly welcome at least the majority of the refugees.

2024 - On

Peter Pellegrini

Close ally of nationalist prime minister.

2024

Peter Pellegrini, a close ally of the divisive populist prime minister, Robert Fico, receives 53.85% of the election vote, thereby becoming Slovakia's new president. The win completes a shift to the right for the country which puts it at odds with almost the entirety of the rest of the EU.

Slovakian president, Peter Pellegrini, in 2024
Slovakia's new president, Peter Pellegrini (left), shakes hands with the country's populist pro-Putin prime minister, Robert Fico, on the day of an election win which completed the country's shift to the right

His predecessor, Zuzana Čaputová, had decided not to run after she had received death threats due to her staunch backing for Ukraine. Her departure marks a swing by the country to the other side of the argument, in stark contrast to Czechia's reaffirmed hawkish opposition to Russia's invasion.

 
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