Assessment for Slovaks in the Czech Republic
|Publisher||Minorities at Risk Project|
|Publication Date||31 December 2003|
|Cite as||Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Slovaks in the Czech Republic, 31 December 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3a6d33.html [accessed 24 April 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
The Slovaks in the Czech Republic have none of the risks of rebellion. The minority is by far the most advantaged one in the country. While they have suffered some discrimination in matters of education and politics, their demands are slowly being met. Positive changes such as the amending of Czech citizenship law with regards to Slovaks, further decrease the likelihood of violent conflict between the two groups.
The risk factors for protest are also small. Slovaks do not face any significant political or cultural restrictions -- there are numerous organizations representing Slovak interests, both political and cultural. The main reason why the group is not represented in the parliament is that Czech Slovaks tend to vote for the broader political parties. In addition, the Czech political scene has been stabilized. The Czech Republic can now be regarded as a successfully consolidated democracy, further diminishing the prospects for protest. The positive political developments in the neighboring Slovakia following the 1998 and 2002 elections and the desire of both the Czech and the Slovak Republic to join the EU also contribute to a positive trend in the Czech-Slovak relations.
The Czechs and Slovaks are culturally and linguistically similar peoples who were divided by the distinct influence of Austrian (Czechs) and Hungarian (Slovaks) domination. In 1918, following the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the two nations united to form the First Czechoslovak Republic--a strategic move to protect themselves against internal as well as external threats. Their coexistence was interrupted for a short period during the WWII, when a Slovak fascist puppet state was established (AUTON = 1). After WWII, the two nations joined together in a federal state. Despite the formal equality, many Slovaks felt that the federal structure favored the Czech nation (already bigger and more advanced) at the expense of the smaller Slovak nation. With the fall of communism in Eastern/Central Europe, the neglected demands and grievances took on a political form, culminating in the Velvet divorce on January 1, 1993. Since that day, the Slovaks and the Czechs have had to adapt to their new situations as minorities.
Slovaks in the Czech Republic are concentrated predominantly in the areas which had a large German minority prior to WWII -- Praha, Brno, Karvina, Olomouc, Tabor, Kladno and West Bohmen (GROUPCON = 3). After WWII, they were moved to these areas to replace the German population that had been expelled by the Prezident Benes decrees. Thus, most of the Slovaks living in the Czech Republic are there as third or fourth generation and are well assimilated (COHESX9 = 3). They are represented by several conventional organizations, of which the Slovaks' Community is regarded as the most representative. Other Slovak associations deal primarily with different subsidiary issues, e.g. with culture (The Club of Slovak Culture), with religion (the Evangelical and Catholic Church), with students (the Detvan society), with folklore (Limbora, Pucik, etc.).
Slovaks in the Czech Republic are by far the most advantaged minority group in the country. They experience no demographic stress (DEMSTR99-00 = 0), and especially since the recent amendments to the citizenship law, virtually no economic and political discrimination (ECDIS 99-03 = 0, POLDIS 99-03 = 0). The most important grievances as expressed by the Slovak community representatives in the Czech Republic are the nonexistence of Slovak representation in parliament, and the lack of Slovak-language education, both of which are slowly being met. Although there were scattered acts of symbolic resistance during 1993-1997 (PROT93,97 = 2), there have been virtually no manifestations of protest since then (PROT98-03=0). There was also no manifestation of rebellion (REB93-03 = 0).
1. Nexis Library Information, 1990-2003
2. The Europa Yearbook 1994
3. Keesings Record of Contemporary World Events, 1990-95
4. The Economist, 1992-95