03 Jan 2018

Happy Birthday, Slovakia! The country turns 25 

Quarter of a century after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, known as the “Velvet Divorce”, Slovaks look back at the triumphs and failures of their young democracy.

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
Happy Birthday, Slovakia! The country turns 25  - NewsMavens
Birthday. Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

politics, economy

On January 1, when most people try to sleep off New Year’s Eve hangovers, our country proudly celebrates the Day of the Establishment of the Slovak Republic.

25 years ago, Czechoslovakia split into two different countries -- a move often called the “Velvet Divorce”, in reference to the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that ended the period of communism in Czechoslovakia.

It was a strictly political decision and, back then, many Slovaks were not sure if it would guarantee them a better future. The Czechs were not too enthusiastic either, as a 1992 opinion poll demonstrated (only 37% of Slovaks and 36% of Czechs favored dissolution).

The famous Czechoslovak president Václav Havel was also against the idea. Hence the efforts of some politicians to hinder a potential referendum, which might have resulted in a decisive “no”.  

Following the establishment of two independent states, we soon realized that Slovakia was not ready for the split.

We lost the capital city of Prague, where the majority of institutions and organizations were located, and had to recreate them on a short notice. Likewise, Slovakia did not even have its own currency. The first banknote was ready in August 1993 -- more than 6 months after the dissolution.

Today, Slovakia is a young democracy that has come an incredibily long way.

Of course, not everything is perfect. Bread is twice as expensive today as in 1993, but the average salary is also 6 times higher. Many Slovaks complain about high levels of corruption and yet, despite errors and failures, our institutions are more and more efficient every year.

In 2018 Slovaks no longer wonder about what would have happened had we not split with the Czechs. We live in our own country, try to take care of it and lead it the right way. Though many were uncertain at the time, today no one even mentions undoing the divorce.

Details from the story:

  • The Slovak Republic was established on January 1, 1993.
  • Only a few hours later, 62 countries diplomatically recognized Slovakia as a sovereign country.
  • The average salary in the newly established Slovakia was 180 euro (back then we used a different currency -- korunas). Now, people earn 944 euro on average.

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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