The birth of Czechoslovakia in 1918 as well as its break-up in 1993
benefitted the Czech and Slovak people, the prime ministers of the Czech
Republic and Slovakia, Andrej Babiš and Peter Pellegrini agreed in a
debate on Czech TV on Sunday.
Prime Minister Pellegrini noted that in 1918 his countrymen had gained independence after 1,000 years of oppression and that when the time came for Czechs and Slovaks to go their own ways they had done so in an exemplary manner without conflict or bloodshed. The years apart have brought us even closer together, the Slovak prime minister noted.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš rejected the idea that the break-up should have been sanctioned by a referendum, saying the Czechs would have voted to stay in the common state, while Slovaks would have opted to leave, which would have resulted in deadlock and created further complications.
The newly-appointed Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini held talks with Czech top officials in Prague on Wednesday on what was his first foreign trip since taking office. Twenty-five years after splitting up, the two neighbor states are cooperating closely to defend their national interests and boost their position in the EU.
Jan Gebert’s powerful new documentary When the War Comes delivers sometimes shocking insights into the Slovak Recruits, a group that run paramilitary boot camps and promote an extreme nationalist ideology. One scene even shows their charismatic leader extolling the virtues of Slavic blood in a talk at a primary school, while the film ends with the fresh-faced autocrat announcing plans to enter politics. When we spoke, Gebert told me his attention was immediately caught when he first heard about the growing organisation.
People in Prague, Brno and Ostrava gathered on Friday evening to pay
tribute to the Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina
Kušnírová whose execution-style murders, evidently in connection with
his investigate reporting work, have rocked Slovakia.
In Prague a vigil was held at the city’s Slovak Embassy, while in Brno people came together in the centre of the city. Similar gatherings took place in several cities around Europe. Tens of thousands took part in a protest vigil in Bratislava that was described as the biggest such gathering since the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
Czechs have reacted with shock and widespread condemnation to the murder of journalist, Ján Kuciak, and his girlfriend in neighbouring Slovakia. The news that the journalist was most likely murdered for exposing corruption in high office has raised concern for democracy and freedom of the press, sparking a debate on the position of the media here in the Czech Republic.
Slovakia remains the most popular foreign country among Czechs, according
to the results of a survey carried out by STEM polling agency released on
Wednesday. The poll suggests that almost 90 percent of Czechs have a close
affinity with Slovakia.
Austria and the Netherlands finished in second and third place, with 78 percent and 74 percent, respectively, while Turkey, China and Ukraine placed on the opposite side of the scale.
Czechs and Slovaks are marking 25 years since the break-up of Czechoslovakia and the birth of two independent republics in the heart of Europe. What led to the so-called Velvet Divorce after more than seventy years of a common state and was it inevitable? How do Czechs and Slovaks feel about the break-up today? And have the two neighbor states managed to retain the special relationship born of many years of close co-existence? Find out in Radio Prague’s mini-series devoted to the break-up of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago.
Prime Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš is scheduled to visit Slovakia
on January 5, ahead of the confidence vote on his minority cabinet in the
Chamber of Deputies, the Czech News Agency reported on Friday.
Later in January, the Prime Minister will visit Bulgaria, which is going to preside over the European Union as of January next year.
Mr Babiš is also negotiating with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and wants to meet with the political leaders from Austria, which will take over the EU presidency in July next year.
Twenty-five years since the Czech and Slovak republics split in the Velvet Divorce, both continue to share remarkably close ties. Not surprisingly, tourism plays a key role, with Czech visitors, for example, making up for more than a third of foreign tourists in Slovakia a year. While the Czech Republic may have the edge in the number of castles and chateaux, sites such as the Tatra Mountains or Slovak Paradise remain major draws for Czechs.