Martin M. Šimečka

Martin M. Šimecka (1957) is a Slovak author and journalist, editor-in-chief of Respekt, a Czech intellectual weekly. He lives in Prague and Bratislava. He belongs to the few Slovak authors who had published in the samizdat literature during communism. Šimecka’’s novel The Year of the Frog has been translated to English and French. In 1990 he founded and led an independent publishing house Archa. He later became editor-in-chief of Domino-forum, a Slovak weekly. In 1997 – 2006, he acted as editor-in-chief of SME, the country’’s leading daily newspape in English, before taking up his current position at Respekt.

Byl jsem skeptik, zkušenost to změnila / Rozhovor

S Radosławem Sikorským o jeho víře v Evropskou unii, polských ambicích a české skepsi. Po jeho projevech v Berlíně a v Oxfordu jej komentátoři pasovali na příštího evropského prezidenta, on je však zatím ve své funkci ministra zahraničí Polska spokojený. Radosław Sikorski trpělivě odpovídal na otázky, nakonec neodolal a sám od sebe začal mluvit o kampani proti polským potravinám. Rozhovor vznikal ve spolupráci s novináři ze slovenské SME a maďarského Népszabadságu. Polská zahraniční politika udělala pod vaším vedením obrat, když se odklonila od spojenectví s Británií a USA a mnohem aktivněji usiluje o hlubší evropskou integraci s důrazem na vztahy […]

Truth and Love

Photo: Peter Župník The more the communist regime becomes a distant memory, the more obvious it seems to me that the essence of this world is located in a different dimension than that defined by political regimes. Admittedly, from the factual point of view, dictatorship and democracy are worlds apart, since democracy enables me to freely voice my outrage at the state of affairs and under certain circumstances – provided I am willing to expend the necessary will, time and energy – to try and do something about it. However, if I compare the horror at the rule of lies […]

Destructive Forces

Photo: Peter Župník While the Senate elections have somewhat dampened the fears that the Communist Party is on the rise, we must nevertheless come to terms with the fact that the time when they will be in government is fast approaching. The problem with the Communists isn’’t so much the threat they pose to democracy (provided, of course, they don’’t garner an overwhelming majority of seats) but rather the fact that they arouse a profound sense of shame and shatter our normal trust in the rational world. The shock of being in the immediate presence of evil – which is […]

Arrival of the Left

Holidays are very important for the spiritual equilibrium of our society, Slovak bishop Stanislav Zvolenský declared, responding to the news that the newly-elected Slovak government  is contemplating cutting down the number of state holidays on the grounds that they slow down the economy. However, this spiritual equilibrium seems more like torpor, into which Slovak society has slid thanks to a new kind of holiday – a day off politics. The overwhelming victory of Smer in the March elections allowed the left of centre party to form a majority government and was met with an astonished silence, ringing with the unspoken […]

After The Velvet Divorce

Tyres quietly swish on the motorway, gliding on the smooth surface almost untouched by cars right up to the Czech state border. This is one of the few motorways in Europe that has seen the number of cars using it go down. Once it was known for long tailbacks but that was a long time ago, before two nations turned their backs on one another. In 1992, in a touching display of cooperation, these two nations erected two concrete buildings for customs and border officials on the border they shared. It was as if a river had been artificially diverted […]

Slovakia For Sale

Photo: Peter Župník Svätý Jur, a small town near Bratislava, famous for its wine cellars, is depopulated in the mornings, with its colourful houses and plague column resembling a theatre set. The air is frosty despite the winter sun but the local pub is warm and cosy thanks to the log fire, made of wood from the local Lesser Carpathian mountains that rise right behind the fortifications built in the 17th century to keep out the Turks. As Tom Nicholson enters the pub in his padded jacket, looking as if he has just come down from the hills, the regulars […]

The Octopus named Gorilla

In 1994, as red-faced Vladimír Mečiar left the polling station claiming the electoral committee had prevented him from casting his vote by leaving his name off the electoral list, he scored a big victory by putting on a convincing show of righteous indignation. All day long television showed his angry face sending Slovak voters to ballot boxes by their thousands and handing nearly absolute power to their favourite politician, who had been set upon by dark forces. Since then nobody has managed to pull a diabolical trick that could significantly impact the election results and Slovakia’’s future – right up […]

A Place to Stand On

Give me a place to stand on and I will move the Earth, Archimedes said. Václav Havel applied this belief in the physical essence of the world to the very essence of human existence and tested its strength on his own person. He himself had become the place to stand on in our human universe and ended up moving history. The huge global response to his death shows that the outside world has been more profoundly and fully aware of the strength of Havel’’s personality than many Czechs. For there are few people in the entire history of our civilization […]

Wishing for Europe

Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it, goes the American saying. The American warning doesn’’t apply to me though, as for many years my greatest wish was for the European Union to stay together, a wish that is beginning to look less and less realistic. What seems to be coming true these days instead is my concern that the EU might fall apart. Mentally I have been preparing myself for a disintegration for a long time although until recently the actual picture had been quite hazy. But lately international press and academic networks have been teeming […]