Differences between the Czech and Slovak national cultures begin with language and range from newspaper circulation to attitudes to corruption. Yet they don’t justify seeing the Czecho-Slovak split as blueprint for dismantling the EU, writes Martin Simecka.
Martin M. Simecka
is a Slovak author and journalist. He belongs to the few Slovak authors who published in the “samizdat literature” during communism. Simecka’s novel The Year of the Frog has been translated to English and French. In 1990 he founded the independent publishing house Archa. He later became editor-in-chief of Domino-forum, a Slovak weekly. From 1997 to 2006 he acted as editor-in-chief of SME, Slovakia’s leading daily newspaper, in 2006 to 2008 as editor-in-chief of Respekt, and from 2009 as editor and contributor.
Democratic deficit, enlargement fatigue and ever more rescue funds: is there still a future for a common Europe? In a discussion in Eurozine’s series “Europe talks to Europe”, prominent intellectuals and opinion makers from western and eastern Europe diagnosed causes for the current malaise of the EU.
The Slovak author and journalist Martin M. Simecka and Hungarian architect and former samizdat publisher László Rajk are not only former dissidents of the younger generation, but also the sons of well-known persecuted communists. László Rajk sr. was the most prominent victim of the Rákosi show trials of 1949; the writer Milan Simecka sr. began his career in the Czechoslovak Communist Party and became a dissident after 1968. In the first debate in the Eurozine series “Europe talks to Europe”, held in Budapest, they discussed the still unanswered questions surrounding the involvement of their fathers’ generation in post-war communism, and the failings of today’s debate about the past in the former communist countries. Moderated by Éva Karádi, editor of Magyar Lettre Internationale.
The quest for a media culture in Slovakia
In Slovakia, journalists’ hard won freedom after 1989 was rapidly curtailed by the authoritarian government of Vladimír Meciar. The media rallied again and played a key role in the victory of the opposition in 1998, only to fall victim to legal intimidation and corruption within their own ranks. But although the most serious challenges to press freedom have been seen off, a media culture free of the legacies of the past has yet to develop, writes Martin Simecka.
Why post-'89 history must go beyond self-diagnosis
The dissident generation of the 1970s and 1980s produced a body of work unprecedented in Czech history, says Martin Simecka. Yet it is precisely the monumentality of this generation’s legacy that prevents the interpretation of the communist past going beyond self-diagnosis.
At the recent NATO summit, several countries – including Slovakia and the Czech Republic – were invited to join. Martin Simecka has observed the action behind the scenes of the official programme.
The Kosovo war should force the European Union to rethink its future. As the new commission, chaired by Romano Prodi, takes over it should seize the opportunity to move the EU from an inward-looking institution consumed with an economic agenda to an all-European political project.