Czech Republic–Slovakia relations - Wikipedia
Czechoslovakia itself had been formed at the end of World War I, following the collapse of the . At first Bohemia maintained close relations with neighbouring Bavaria. .. Žižka strove tenaciously for two goals: the protection of Bohemia from . The relationship between Czechia and Slovakia is at all time high, very friendly and As there is the common legacy of Czechoslovakia, there are many ties between Czechia and Slovakia are now very good, we have the same aims and. Pavel Seifter: Since Czechoslovakia split in , there have been too no deeper sense of being, with no obvious purpose or role to play.
Two new small countries appeared on the map — the Czech Republic and Slovakia — and beyond their borders nobody understood why they had separated. It happened in a different time, in a different geopolitical space, long before the two new countries worked their way — separately — into Nato and the European Union. It was also largely seen as a positive achievement because at the time Yugoslavia was falling apart violently.
However, the Czechoslovak decision was not made through a proper democratic process.
Czech Republic and Slovakia 25 Years after the Velvet Revolution: Democracies without Democrats
It was made over a cup of tea or was it a beer? There is a cost in lost time on both sides: The Slovaks at least had a sense of their future, of what they were doing. They were building a new country.
But in the process they nearly missed the train to Europe and to Nato, and in the end they made it at the last minute. Before that, they first had to turn round the nationalistic, populist and corrupt politics of the post-divorce period and get rid of that same leader who decided upon independence for them under the Tugendhat tree.
It took five or six years. This has something to do with the fact that their country came out of the divorce with no deeper sense of being, with no obvious purpose or role to play.
If it is to work properly, the market needs to be recognised as a form of civil society based on certain virtues, ethical rules and respect for laws. Unfortunately, Czech economic reformers, led by Vaclav Klaus, saw the creation of a market economy more as a mere technical process than a process that also should pay attention to the law and ethics.
Under this scheme, all citizens were allowed to purchase a book of vouchers for a symbolic prize and allowed to exchange their vouchers for shares in government-controlled companies.
The scheme suffered from a number of deficiencies, including a lack of transparency and the creation of millions of small shareholders who did not exercise any real control over privatised companies.
In the beginning there was also no stock exchange where the shareholders could trade their shares. The legal framework was very weak, allowing some so-called investment funds to spring up and buy the vouchers or shares from individuals. Direct sales to foreign and domestic investors were also used, but a lack of domestic capital and a lack of information about the companies which the state tried to sell were obstacles to this process.
Moreover, even direct sales to domestic investors were often dubious schemes, in which state-controlled banks loaned funds to people whose only qualification often was their close relationship with top politicians. Not surprisingly, the privatisation processes both in the Czech Republic and Slovakia were infamously tarnished with corruption and large-scale scandals.
The necessary correction came only when both countries applied for EU membership in and, as a result, under pressure from Brussels, had to start introducing additional economic reforms, including the privatisation of major banks. At any rate, the costs of the economic transformation in both countries were large.
For example, the Czech Ministry of Finance estimated in the year that some billion crowns about 35 billion dollars had been lost as a result of fraud, asset stripping and unnecessary bankruptcies. The rule of law and a civil society The introduction of the rule of law has been more difficult still, depending as it does, not only on the quality of legislation and institutions, such as courts, but on the level of public respect for them.
Not surprisingly, it has become clear that good institutions and laws do not suffice to build a rule of law; law-abiding citizens are equally important. Respect for the law is directly tied to the maturity of civil society. And this is the most difficult area to reform. The immaturity of civil society is to this day the factor most responsible for the low level of democratic culture in both countries.
It cannot be created from above, by adopting laws, decrees or EU standards. It is an organism that needs to grow from below, from the grass roots.
Czechoslovak history | senshido.info
In other words, a robust civil society is a precondition for the internalisation of democratic values by people. Although civic groups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have proliferated in the last twenty-five years, the civil society as a whole remains heavily dependent on financial assistance from abroad, as the culture of corporate donations to civic initiatives is still much undeveloped.
Entire sectors of civil society across the region also depend on government funding, which makes the very notion of non-governmental organisations NGOs problematic.
Equally problematic is the unevenness in the development of various sectors of civil society. At the same time, it should be noted that Slovakia has done better with regard to the functioning of its civil society than the Czech Republic.
Vaclav Havel once remarked that each post-communist country needed a revolution against communism, but each also needed after a few years one against post-communism.
When talking about post-communism, Havel had in mind a socio-political state of affairs in which the institutional foundations of democracy were successfully created, but large parts of society remained rooted in the patterns of behaviour inherited from communism. When the Slovak civil society revolted against Meciar init managed to propel Slovakia more beyond post-communism that the Czechs have managed so far.
Despite the fact both countries have suffered from corruption and many other social ills, Slovakia managed to adopt the euro, and in general, has been less problematic for the EU than the Czechs.
Liberal democracy as a moving target The development of democratic culture in the region is tied to the notion of liberal democracy, which introduces another level of complexity. The idea itself contains a contradiction: A certain tension also exists between democracy as the rule of the people and liberalism as the rule of the law. In advanced liberal democracies, the rules of the game are at least as important as the procedural part of democracy, represented most significantly by elections.
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Civil society was seen as an enemy of political parties, respect for minorities was low. The rule of law was seen by the first generation of reformers as an obstacle to speedy economic reforms. And it is only getting harder. Democratic development in the region has taken place amid the accelerating process of globalisation, which calls into question the very notion of the nation-state — the foundation upon which liberal democracy first developed.
In the Czech Republic, the most important political parties were created from above, by small groups of newly-born elites. Even some of the historical political parties, such the Social Democrats, were re-established as basically elite projects. In combination with a high level of mistrust among citizens in partisanship after more than 40 years of one-party rule, the creation of parties as elite projects has caused parties to be small and weak.
There are no mass parties, to speak off. In fact, the Communist Party, which inherited a large membership base, remains the largest party in Czech politics. Today, political parties in the Czech Republic and Slovakia often act more as business entities that trade with political influence than defenders of public interests. The high levels of corruption in both societies have to do with the fact that political parties are often controlled by behind-the-scenes economic interests.
When the privatisation process, which was a source of major corruption, ended, many of the newly created business interests used their close contacts with political parties to manipulate state tenders. According to conservative estimates, some billion Czech crowns, out of some billion the state spends annually on public tenders, disappear one way or the other in this systemic corruption.
Foreign relations of the Czech Republic - Wikipedia
The institutional weakness of the political parties that presided over the transformation process has led, in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, to the rise of populist movements.
In the last few years, it has tried to act as a social democratic party, but its populist origins are still visible in many ways. In the Czech Republic, the last two parliamentary elections saw the rise of populist movements financed by wealthy entrepreneurs. The Public Affairs party, founded by millionaire Vit Barta, was a member of the ruling coalition after the elections in The political democracy in the Czech Republic and Slovakia has further been deformed by the fact that the creation of a market economy has heavily depended on foreign capital, mainly foreign direct investment by large multinational companies.
In comparison with established Western democracies, domestic capital has played a relatively small role in the new market economy. If we take into account that market entities, such as small and mid-size businesses, played a crucial role in the creation of civil societies in traditional democracies, the relative absence of this segment of the market economy in post-communist countries has been an obstacle in building vibrant civil societies.
As a result, wherever public space began appearing it came quickly under the pressure of markets and was often colonised by private interests.
These organisations have created a framework, in which the new democracies have to work. Some argue that the long-term survival of democratic institutions, which the benign external framework guarantees, will create an environment in which democracy as a culture will develop as well. If we accept this argument it seems easy to agree with Tomas G.
Masaryk, the first President of Czechoslovakia afterwho thought that Czechoslovakia could be safe as a democratic regime in 50 years if it lived in peace. However, global developments make such arguments somewhat tentative.
In other words, the democratic paradigm may be changing globally. Though the nation-state gave birth to the concept of liberal democracy, the idea itself has come under increasing pressure in this globalised world. Globalisation has damaged not only traditional dimensions of liberal democracy, such as the role of political parties. The influence of expert bureaucracies is on the rise and the relationship between media and politics has become more complicated. Modern media, especially television, are now major players on the political scene.
With political agendas of their own, the media pretend to be the voice of the people; in reality, it is merely a tool of private interests. What impact this development will have on liberal democracy is not yet clear. It is, however, apparent that in light of these new technologies, which enable a large number of individuals to communicate instantly and directly with each other, the role of representative democracy based on political parties is diminishing.
Combined with the traditionally strong anti-elitist sentiments in Czech society, which, in turn, are fuelled by plebeian traditions and provincialism of a country that did not have its own political elites for centuries and was for more than year a province of Vienna, Berlin and Moscow, these are potentially dangerous trends.
Democracy-building, which seemed to be clearly defined in as simply embracing what has worked well for decades in the West, has become a rather elusive target.
It is taking place in a world of revolutionary technological changes and the widening of the gap between the globally operating capital and cumbersome national democracies. Inthe future of the Czechs and the Slovaks seemed to be the past, as Croatian philosopher Boris Buden sarcastically noted, referring to the fact the chief goal of the era of post-communism was to embrace the system of liberal democracy that had existed in the west while the east experimented with the communist utopia.
Both politicians and ordinary people in the countries that were to become full-fledged democracies after a period of transformation no longer seem to be certain what the ultimate goal is. Post-communism, as Buden would say, has become an era without a future-- a utopia of the past that does not exist anymore. Democracy without democrats In general, all new European democracies that emerged after the fall of communism in have undergone an unprecedented institutional modernisation, yet they still show significant democratic deficits.
The gap lies in the space between the two levels at which to judge the quality of democracy: