The contemporary history of Slovakia
Slovakia's contemporary history is the country's
history after 1993. Between 1918 and 1993 Slovakia was
part of the Slavic state formation Czechoslovakia, from
1969 with the status of state.
On January 1, 1993, the Republic of Slovakia became
an independent state after the Czechoslovak Federation
was peacefully dissolved. Slovakia had been the least
developed part of Czechoslovakia and, when it was
released in 1993, predicted a difficult future, but has
a growth in GDP that is growing faster than the EU
The dissolution of Czechoslovakia
The Communist regime in Czechoslovakia was abolished
in November 1989. In the first free elections in
Slovakia in 1990, the loosely composed group "Public
Against Violence" became the largest party, and Vladimír
Mečiar became Slovak prime minister. Constitutional
issues and relations with the Czechs came up early,
among other things, there was an extensive dispute over
the reintroduction of hyphens in the Czechoslovakia
name. The desire to dissolve Czechoslovakia was
initially not a common requirement in Slovakia, but
gained increasing support as the Czechs were little
interested in joining such a loose confederation that
nationalist Slovak politicians eventually advocated.
In August 1992, Slovak and Czech politicians agreed
to dissolve Czechoslovakia. A Slovak Constitution was
passed in September 1992. After clarifying some
practical issues, the resolution was passed by the
Czechoslovak Parliament on November 25, and from January
1, 1993, Slovakia was an independent state.
The first years as an independent state
The political life in Slovakia during the first years
was characterized by unstable conditions and strong
conflicts, not least between Prime Minister Vladimír
Mečiar and President Michal Kováč. After the ruling
party's Democratic Slovakia Movement (HZDS) split in
February 1994, Prime Minister Mečiar had to step down,
but he formed a new government after the re-election
President Kováč's term expired in March 1998, and
when there was not a sufficient majority in parliament
to elect his successor, the post remained vacant for a
while before Mečiar became president again in 1999. The
following year he was arrested and charged with abuse of
power, but was later released. The controversial but
popular politician also ran for president in 2004, but
lost in another round of elections.
Although Mečiar's government advocated the
development of market economy and the integration of
Slovakia into European structures, doubts were raised
about how strong this desire really was. Mečiar was
frequently accused of authoritarian tendencies and
concentration of power, and there was several times
uncertainty about his attitude to free speech and
Relationship with Hungary
Another contentious issue is the relationship with
the Hungarian minority (around 10 per cent of the
population). An agreement signed by Hungary and Slovakia
in 1995 on "good neighborliness and friendly
cooperation" secured minority rights at the same time as
the Hungarian-Slovak border was declared inviolable.
Nevertheless, Hungarian was dissatisfied with the
language situation, and the two countries have long had
a conflict about power development in the Danube
(Gabčikovo-Nagymaros). The Beneš decrees have also been
a matter of contention, and refer to the forced
displacement of Hungarians from Czechoslovakia after the
Second World War.
Under Robert Fico's second government in 2012-2016,
relations with Hungary improved, despite the fact that
Fico is a social democrat and Hungarian Prime Minister
Viktor Orbán right-wing populist. They have taken fairly
similar positions with regard to EU internal politics
and relations with Russia.
After the disintegration of Czechoslovakia, many
feared that Slovakia would face additional major
financial problems. But even though the country did not
have as good economic development as the Czech Republic,
economic growth was significant after Mečiar's regime
Since the turn of the century, and especially after
EU membership in 2004, economic growth has been
significant. The country has attracted foreign
investment and, among other things, established a
significant automotive industry.
Elections and domestic politics after 2000
After the 1998 elections, Christian Democrat took
over Mikulas Dzurinda as prime minister. He is the
leader of the SDKU party and formed a center-right
coalition government. The government and Dzurinda gained
renewed confidence in the 2002 elections, and the
government was honored to lead the country into NATO and
the EU. Rudolf Schuster became president in 1999, and in
the 2004 presidential election, nationalist Mečiar lost
to his former party mate Ivan Gašparovic.
In the 2006 parliamentary elections, the first after
EU membership, Dzurinda's party SDKU went back in favor
of the Social Democratic party Smer, which became the
largest party with 29 percent of the vote and 50 (out of
150) seats in the national assembly. Smer, led by Robert
Fico, opted to halt the country's market liberalism
course and establish new welfare schemes, as well as
withdraw the country's forces from Iraq.
After the Prime Minister's term 2006-2010, with
Robert Fico as leader of a coalition government, Fico
was re-elected as Prime Minister in 2012 with 44.4
percent of the vote. Smer was now able to form
government alone. At the 2016 election, Smer declined
sharply, but was still the largest. Fico formed a
coalition government of four parties, Smer, Most-Híd,
SNS and Siet '.
On March 14, 2018, Fico resigned from the State
Minister post and handed it over to party leader Peter
Pellegrini. The background was the murder of
investigative journalist Ján Kuciak, who was in the
process of rolling up a case about the Italian criminal
gang's operation in eastern Slovakia. This gave rise to
fierce protests against the government. Fico resigned on
the grounds that he would avoid re-election and resolve
the political crisis.
Together with the other Visegrád countries, Slovakia
has been staunch opponents of EU quota schemes for the
distribution of refugees that came during the 2015
migrant crisis. This position shares most Slovak
Europe, foreign and security policy
After independence, Slovakia became a member of the
Council of Europe and of the NATO Partnership for Peace.
In 1999, the European Commission opened negotiations
with Slovakia on EU membership. Doubts that the country
fulfilled the desired democracy demands put it outside
the first round of NATO accession, but the country
nevertheless participated in military cooperation,
including the KFOR force in Kosovo.
In 2002, Slovakia was invited as a new member of NATO
and became a formal member from 2004 along with six
other countries. During the Iraq war in 2003, Slovakia
supported the US strategy and was among the states that
expressed this most clearly, causing some disagreement
with France and Germany. Slovakia participated in the
Iraq war with a modest force of about 100 soldiers, who
were experts in cleansing after chemical warfare.
Since then, Slovakia within NATO and the EU has been
among those who have been mildest in the criticism of
Russian foreign policy. It applied during the Georgia
War in 2008 and the Ukraine crisis in 2013-2015 and the
Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The
country rejected US plans for a missile shield in
Central Europe and did not recognize Kosovo.
The membership negotiations with the EU started in
2000. In 2003, Slovakia signed the EU membership
agreement, and the referendum on membership was held in
May. As in the other eastern European candidate states,
there was a great deal of excitement in voting; if
turnout was below 50 percent, the vote would be void.
Since the establishment of Slovakia in 1993, four
referendums had been held, but all had been declared
invalid due to low participation.
In the EU poll, 52.2 per cent of voters cast their
vote, making it the first valid referendum in the
country. There was no organized opposition to the EU,
and the yes victory was as much as 92.5 per cent.
Together with nine other countries, Slovakia joined the
EU from 2004. In 2005, Slovakia approved the new EU
Constitution and joined the euro zone in January 2009.