Slovakian nationalism arose in the late 1800s, and after World War I ended, Slovakia merged with the Czechs to form Czechoslovakia. But when the Czechs were forced to cede territory to the Nazis in World War II, Slovakia became separate again, albeit as a puppet state for the Nazis. After World War II, Czechoslovakia was reunited and fell under Soviet influence. For the next four decades, communism ruled the country until the Velvet Revolution began in 1989. Protests eventually brought down the communist government and opened the way for Slovakia and the Czech Republic to part ways once again. Since then, Slovakia has incorporated many economic and political reforms that led it to join NATO and the European Union in 2004. In 2006, Robert Fico became prime minister and quickly made a name for himself when he stated publicly that he would never allow the United States to build a military base on Slovakian soil, unlike Poland had done. Slovakia has also dealt with the controversy of forced sterilization for Gypsy women, a practice that was commonplace under the Nazi regime.
Lay of the Land: Slovakia is bordered by Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. Its land mass occupies an area approximately twice the size of New Hampshire. The terrain is mountainous in the north, with low mountains in the center, and hills to the west. The Danube River basin is found in the south of the country.
Slovakia’s early history dates back to the Early Paleolithic Era. Archeological evidence, such as stone tools and human skeletons, show that the culture was trading with Mediterranean and Central European cultures very early on. By the Neolithic Era, the Slovakian culture transitioned to agriculture and became one of the hubs along the European trading routes.
The United States played a major role in the establishment of the original Czechoslovak state on October 28, 1918, with President Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points serving as the basis for the union of the Czechs and Slovaks. Tomas Masaryk, father of the Czechoslovak state and its first president, visited the United States during World War I and used the US Constitution as a model for the first Czechoslovak Constitution.
In 2009, the United States exported $208.2 million and imported $623.2 million worth of goods through trade with Slovakia, leaving a negative current trade balance of n$415 million.. This is a decrease in trade from 2008, during which the US exported $547.5 million and imported $1.3 trillion from Slovakia.
Slovak Prime Minister Raises Objection to US Military Bases
According to the State Department, “Notable human rights problems included some continuing reports of police mistreatment of Romani suspects and lengthy pretrial detention; restrictions on freedom of religion; concerns about the integrity of the judiciary, corruption in national government, local government, and government health services; violence against women and children; trafficking in women and children; and societal discrimination and violence against Roma and other minorities.”
Note: The United States recognized the Slovak Republic as an independent state and established diplomatic relations with it on Jan 1, 1993. Embassy Bratislava was established Jan 4, 1993, with Paul Hacker as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
Peter Burian became Slovakia’s ambassador to the United States on December 2, 2008. He studied at the Diplomatic Academy in Moscow, the Institute of International Relations at Commenius University in Bratislava, the University of Cairo, and St. Petersburg State University.
A business executive from the publishing and timber industries, Theodore “Tod” Sedgwick has no experience as a foreign diplomat. But the chosen ambassador toSlovakia
has donated substantially to Democratic candidates, especially to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Sedgwick was officially sworn in on July 28, 2010, although he had already taken the oath of office on his front porch on Martha’s Vineyard on July 4.
A native of Mississippi, Keith A. Eddins has served as the US Chargé d'Affaires to Slovakia since August 2, 2008. Eddins attended the University of Virginia and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1980. He later earned a Master of Arts from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has studied Slovak, Czech, Russian, French and Spanish.