Pithart: Slovaks Gained More than Czechs from Independence

Former Czech prime minister Petr Pithart receives the Order of Double Barred Cross, Second Class on the 25th anniversary of Slovakia's independence on January 1, 2018. (Photo by TASR)

Prague, January 2 (TASR) – Slovaks have gained more than Czechs from the splitting of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago, with most of the latter still bemoaning that the separation happened, former prime minister of the Czech part of the federation in 1990-92 Petr Pithart has told TASR in an interview.

“I was very concerned at the time, as I noticed that nobody was considering the geopolitical implications, while everyone was only talking about money and who was suffering for whom and who represented a bigger encumbrance,” said Pithart.

According to him, while Slovakia was strengthened by the “velvet separation”, the Czech Republic was not so much.

“Everyone will tell you now that it turned out excellent, that our relations have never been better,” said Pithart, adding that this view tends to neglect the first five years after the split.

“Until the 1998 general election, Slovakia was out of talks on joining the EU, it wasn’t taken into account when it came to NATO membership and it was called the black hole of Europe. Slovaks at the time overcame a big political crisis and so they gained much more from the division. Their self-confidence was boosted and it became clear that the state was healthy. Czechs don’t have such an experience,” said Pithart, adding that the Czech Republic has become a fearful country instead.

“The way in which we split – without the public’s consent – has also some consequences in the current mistrust towards the EU, so prevailing in the Czech Republic. We’ve become a pusillanimous population, we don’t trust anyone. We don’t have any hostile country behind our borders, but we fear the outer world,” said Pithart.

The former Czech prime minister then went on to compare the relationship between the Czechs and Slovaks before the split to one of brothers. “Czechs do like Slovaks, but at the time we viewed them as a younger brother, perhaps a bit crazy and headless. The older brother too infrequently cares about the interests of his younger sibling,” stated Pithart, adding that politicians in the Czech lands had to explain a lot to the public after the division of Czechoslovakia.

“Few people were aware of the historical context. They didn’t know what the Czechs promised to the Slovaks, but failed to keep,” added Pithart.