Slovakia History

Slovakia History

Settlement of the Slavs

From the 5th century, Slavic tribes immigrated to what is now Slovakia and drove the Germanic tribes there. The Great Moravian Empire was established in the 9th century under Prince Borivoj, which included parts of today’s Slovakia, parts of Hungary and Poland and Bohemia. Christianity spread and the foundation stone was laid for the later city of Prague (now the Czech Republic).

Hungarian domination

The Hungarians (Magyars) smashed the Great Moravian Empire in the 10th century. The territories of today’s Slovakia came under the rule of the Hungarian kings for several hundred years. Under her sovereignty, many German farmers, artisans and merchants immigrated to Slovakia over the next few centuries and founded many cities.

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When the Hungarian heartland fell into the hands of the Ottoman Empire (Battle of Moh¨¢cs in southern Hungary), the Hungarian kings moved their residence to Bratislava (today Bratislava).

At the end of the 18th century, a Slovak national movement began to form. In the middle of the 19th century (1848) there was also a revolution in Hungary, the Habsburg monarch was deposed and a constitutional government was formed. The Slovaks also tried an uprising and demanded the autonomy of their part of the country (“demands of the Slovak nation”), which was refused to them by the Hungarian Reichstag. Even after the formation of the double monarchy Austria-Hungary (1867), Hungary remained in control of the Slovak people and had their administration in their hands. The massive oppression of Slovak culture (magyarization) led to the emigration of around half a million Slovaks, mainly to America.

Slovakia as part of Czechoslovakia

The members of the national movement in Slovakia were increasingly oriented towards cooperation with the Czechs against Austria-Hungary. Shortly before the end of the First World War in 1918 and the subsequent collapse of the double monarchy, a Czechoslovak state was founded in which Slovakia was guaranteed autonomy. According to AbbreviationFinder, the Paris Peace Treaty in 1920 recognized the international separation of Slovakia from Hungary and its new status as part of a Czechoslovak state.

Domestically, tensions soon arose in the common state when implementation of the promised autonomy was a long time coming. Another point of conflict was the fact that all important positions in politics, business and the military were occupied by the Czechs (the Slovaks had a share of around 30% of the total population). The Slovak People’s Party (SVP) was at the head of the Slovak national movement. It was not until 1938, when Czechoslovakia was forced to surrender the German-populated areas of its territory to National Socialist Germany that Slovakia was granted autonomy. After German troops occupied Czechoslovakia in 1939, Slovakia declared its independence as the Slovak Free State on March 14, 1939,

After the end of World War II and the defeat of Germany, Slovakia again became part of a common Czechoslovak state. In 1945 the country was occupied by Russian troops. After the Communists supported by the USSR came to power, the People’s Republic was proclaimed in 1948 and the leadership of the Communist Party was laid down in the adopted constitution.

In 1960 the country was renamed the “Czechoslovak Socialist Republic” (CSSR). One of the best-known Slovak politicians within the CSSR was Alexander Dubcek, who became the Communist Party’s First Party Secretary in January 1968. His attempt to democratize parliament (“Prague Spring”) failed after only a few months due to the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops led by the USSR. Dubcek was relieved of his position as party secretary a year later, his successor (Gust¨¢v Hus¨¢k, from 1975 also president) went back on a pro-Soviet course.

Independent state

The Communist Party’s monopoly on power in the CSSR ended in 1989, when reform movements were already underway in several Eastern Bloc countries. In all parts of the country there were large and peaceful demonstrations (“gentle revolution”) against the communist leadership, whereupon both the President and the Prime Minister of the CSSR resigned in late 1989. On March 1, 1990, the “Czech and Slovak Federative Republic “(CSFR) was proclaimed.

In the Slovakian part of the CSFR, the 1992 Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) won under the leadership of Vladimir Meciar, who became Prime Minister. In August 1992 the Czech (V¨¢clav Klaus) and the Slovakian head of government Meciar agreed to dissolve the federation. The Slovak parliament voted for its own constitution in September 1992, paving the way for independence.

On January 1, 1993, Slovakia became a sovereign state as a republic, which was admitted to the UN in the same year. The nationalist-oriented Michal Kovac was elected as the new president.

In the parliamentary and local elections in 1994 there was a coalition between the nationalist party SNS of the current President Kovac and the “Movement for a Democratic Slovakia” (HZDS) of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. While the economy was booming, the country’s democratization was slow. For this reason, in 1997 and 1998 Slovakia was still prevented from entering into official accession negotiations with the EU.

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After the parliamentary elections in 1998, opposition leader Mikulaš Dzurinda, who headed the opposition alliance “Slovak Democratic Coalition” (SDK), became the new prime minister and thus prime minister of Slovakia. In 1999, after a constitutional amendment, the first president of Slovakia was directly elected by the people. In June, Rudolf Schuster, who clearly prevailed in the elections against his opponent Vladimir Meciar, took over as head of state. He also declared his country’s admission to the EU and NATO to be the primary objectives of his policy.

Official accession negotiations began between Slovakia and the European Union in February 2000. In 2001, the Basic Law was reformed to meet the EU requirements. The EU alleged corruption within the Slovak government: large amounts of money from EU funds had been embezzled, and the Slovakian Prime Minister, Mikulaš Dzurinda, was dismissed. Slovakia finally joined NATO in March 2004 and the EU in May of the same year.

In the 2002 parliamentary elections, the center-right alliance of Dzurinda was confirmed with a narrow majority. However, Dzurinda also had to include the business-oriented “Alliance of New Citizens” (ANO) in the government coalition in order to hold his majority. Former President of Parliament Ivan Gasparovic has been President since 2004. The Social Democratic Party (SMER) won the majority in the 2006 parliamentary elections and provided left-wing populist Prime Minister Robert Fico. The neo-liberal economic policy of the Dzurinda era was ended by the Fico government and workers’ rights expanded. From 2010 to 2011 there was again a short-term liberal economic government under Prime Minister Iveta Radičov¨¢.The government coalition broke prematurely in 2011 due to the disagreement between the government parties regarding the EU rescue package. In the 2012 parliamentary elections, Robert Fico’s Social Democrats won the absolute majority and formed a single social democratic government.

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