That Summer Morning My Childhood Suddenly Ended

The first summer on which I can provide a detailed report started 12 years ago. Until then, two months of holidays almost always looked the same. On the 1st of July we would leave for our summer house in the Low Tatra mountains and return on August 31st. From the mountains we would sporadically take off on trips to internationally attractive locations, such as Kokava nad Rimavicou or Zemplínska šírava, the latter being known out of pure desperation as the Slovak sea. The westernmost city I had ever seen was called, appropriately, East Berlin. The idyllic wilderness in the hills […]

Pub Talk Has No Place in Cafes

I’’ve had enough and I have been saying this and writing this for some time now. I’ve had enough of constantly commenting on Slovak-Hungarian relations, on this unfortunate so-called Hungarian or rather, anti-Hungarian, card, on the fear of autonomy, of Orbán, the Carpathian parliament, the Hungarian Guard and other irredentists, of a Hungarian irredenta, to comment on the phobias and traumas of a Trianon revision or annulling of the Beneš decrees, on fear of the past which every idiot believes himself or herself to be competent to make pronouncements with an arrogance that is possible only in pubs since we Jánošík’‘s children have […]

Cowards Rather Than Heroes

Photo: Peter Župník Back in 1986 Friedrich Dürrenmatt wrote: Theatre is not in crisis, the world no longer needs theatre. Or the arts – they have moved to the margins of the world, everything has been superseded by reality. Dürrenmatt wrote these words in his free native country at a time when his dramas and books could not be staged or published in my own unfree native country. They were banned solely because of the fact that Friedrich Dürrenmatt had condemned the 1968 occupation of my homeland by the armies of the Warsaw Pact and because he spoke out in support […]

A Russian Winter

  I can’’t understand why Russia’’s turning off the gas taps sent such shockwaves through all of Europe and why even the leaders of the Old World could not understand what made the strapping, rosy-cheeked Gazprom managers take such a brutal decision. In actual fact, it’’s clearer than the Moscow and St. Petersburg sun. It’’s yet another inevitable step in the inexorable quest to promote Russia’’s unique culture around the world. A freezing calm In the early nineties the ungrateful European countries, including Czecho-Slovakia, expelled from their territories the Russian army which had been promoting peace and understanding among nations for twenty […]

A Slovak National Conscience

  I could never really believe there was such a thing as an absolutely clear conscience. After all, if for generations you were raised to believe that there are some absolute  truths, like white being legally more worthy than black,  you would betray your principles if, for example, you shook hands with someone who is black. You would betray everything that makes up our Great Inherited Values: Father, Mother, Cradle, Solidarity, a Festive Table, the Graves of Our Fathers. You would betray their and your own traditions, and would have to live with the burden of a sullied conscience. And now a true story that […]

A new beginning – and not just for America

The new US President is an exceptional politician the like of which is seen once in a lifetime. His election is also a response to three of America’’s worst legacies. It is no exaggeration to say that Barack Obama’s election as US President is a historic event. Apart from anything else it is a response to three of America’’s worst legacies, its burdens from past and more recent history. While his victory does not automatically transcend them, it presents a way of coming to terms with them. The first legacy is skin colour, the race issue. The second is 11 […]

We have to keep pushing the stone of Sisyphus

Although I have tried to look at Slovak-Hungarian relations from an almost cosmic vantage point, whenever it seemed to me that they have reached rock bottom it turned out that I was wrong, and the bottom had not yet been reached. For most of my life I have approached this issue with scepticism but while handing over to Hungary’’s President Árpád Göncz my letters of credence as Ambassador of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic to Hungary with Václav Havel’’s signature, I must have succumbed – at least for a while – to the magic of the day and started believing in democracy of almost […]

Relations at an all-time low

Slovak-Hungarian relations and the atmosphere between the two nations have been through one of their worst weeks in recent history.The Slovak Minister of Education (Slovak National Party) insists that Hungarian children in Slovakia must learn all geographic names in Slovak. The Romanian Euro-MP László Tőkés used the opportunity of a one-minute speech to inform the European Parliament that the Hungarian minority in Slovakia suffers humiliation and lives in constant fear. Slovak media reported his speech as the main event of the day. The Chairman of the Slovak National Party, part of the ruling coalition, has now shed the last vestiges of […]