Forgotten World (62): Slovakia

After the disintegration of the Great Moravian Empire in the early 10th century, the Magyars gradually occupied the territory of the present-day Slovakia and, for the next millennium, it was a part of what eventually between the Hungarian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Between 1918-1993, the territory was the eastern third of Czechoslovakia. Following the split from the Czechs in January 1993, it became Slovakia – a new state of 5M – and entered the European Union in May 2004.
Slovakia has mastered much of the difficult transition from a centrally planned economy to a modern market economy. Major privatizations are nearly complete, the banking sector is almost completely in foreign hands, and foreign investment has picked up. Slovakia’s economy exceeded expectations in the early 2000s, despite recession in key export markets.
However, politics has been volatile in the 150-seat unicameral parliament. For the first five years after independence, there was growing international criticism of the lack of respect for minority rights and the democratic process shown by the authoritarian prime minister, Vladimir Meciar. In recent years though, coalition governments have been more democratic and more broadly centrist.


  • Philip Bickerstaffe

    I’m not positive but I think Slovakia was an independent state between 1939 and 1944. I have been reading a book about Aushwitz recently that details the president of Slovakia at the time (a Catholic priest called Josef Tiso) heading a political party that paid the Nazis 500 Reichsmarks for every Jew deported from Slovakia on the condition they never returned.
    I believe that I have to read books about events such as the Holocaust, but do end up having to put the book down regularly to try and comprehend the incomprehensible.
    On a positive side Bratislava (the capital) often comes to my attention as being a prime location for outsourcing work due to the exceptional language skills (and of course, lower labour costs).

  • Roger Darlington

    You are right, Philip. During the Second World War, Bohemia and Moravia (modern day Czech Republic) were declared a protectorate under the German Reich, while Slovakia was notionally independent. This experience was a bitter and controversial one for Slovak history because the state was a clerical fascist structure that persecuted its minorities, allied itself to Germany, and fought against the USSR.