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Scotland and Slovakia: A valid comparison?

by Unknown - 22:48 on 20 October 2014

Slovakia

As the day dawned on a new year in 1993 it saw the emergence of the independent nation state of Slovakia. There had been no referendum and no bloodbath of a revolution. Slovakia today is successful: a country of 5.3 million people, a member of the U.N. and since 2004, of the E.U. Politicians in Scotland have drawn comparisons between Slovakia and the current debate for Scottish independence but is this a useful comparison?

Slovakia has only had very brief periods, and all within the 20th Century, when it could be regarded as at least notionally independent. Thrust together with the Czech lands in 1918 Slovakia enjoyed a spell of educational and cultural growth. This, however, was a conjoining of two lands who had developed historically along different paths (Czech /Bohemia and Slovakia/ Hungary) and they did not always sit easily together.

Slovakia has had to contend with centuries of being ruled by other states . The post 1945 communist Czechoslovakia saw the forced migration of ethnic groupings to and from Slovakia. The elimination of troublesome ‘leaders’ and the silencing of people who spoke out, was a feature of state control. The collapse of the Communist Regime in Czechoslovakia began in November 1989. One of the leading Slovak dissidents , Milan Simecka stated that the ‘Fall of Communism was a revolution for freedom, human rights and dignity’.

A parliamentary election in 1992 saw the Slovak National Party gain only 8% of the votes and yet by the New Year of 1993 Slovakia was independent. The winners of the 1992 election the CDP (Czech) and the MDS (Slovakia) led by Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Meciar respectively, agreed on the division of the two states of Czechoslovakia. Research done at the time, however, suggested that 48% of Slovaks and 44% of Czechs were opposed to this. Western states, particularly Britain, Germany and the US were initially opposed to the division of Czechoslovakia, seeing it as destabilising Europe. Undeterred the leaders of the Czech Republic and Slovakia continued with their discussions and diplomacy and today both are successful nation states.

Historically there are too many differences for valid comparisons to be made between the nations of Slovakia and Scotland. Scotland today has many of the structures to be found in independent nations. Devolution is control retained within the United Kingdom. Power can be handed down but it can also be removed. The 2014 referendum was one more stage in the dying throes of a British Empire. Scotland is on the brink of political change. If we can take anything from the Slovakian experience it is that change can occur very rapidly and from the least expected quarters.

Fiona Grahame

Comment from David Gordon at 23:15 on 22 October 2016.
What I find interesting is that both the
Czech Republic and Slovakia were able to set up state banks and all the necessary government departments in less than six months. It was probably even quicker in the Baltic Republics. Despite what the main stream media would have us believe it can be done, all it takes is the political will to do it and some goodwill, although that'll be harder to find here.

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