Slovakia in the EU 10 Years On: Promisses Fulfilled?

The Friends of Slovakia, in cooperation with
The Slovak American Society of Washington, D.C. presents,

“Slovakia in the EU 10 Years On: Promises Fulfilled?”

A talk by Rick Zednik
Monday, April 28, 2014, 7:00pm
at the Slovak Embassy, 3523 International Court N.W., Washington D.C. 20008  (near Van Ness Metro)

The spring of 2004 was momentous in the history of independent Slovakia.  On May 1st of that year, the country joined the European Union.  Coming as it did less than five weeks after Slovakia joined NATO, this marked the culmination of a long process that was highly uncertain in the 1990s.  A decade later, we can now reflect on what enabled Slovakia to join these European and trans- Atlantic structures, and how the subsequent integration has fared.

Rick Zednik covered Slovakia’s early path toward EU and NATO membership as co-founding editor of the Slovak Spectator in Bratislava, from 1994 to 2000.  Since 2008 he has followed Slovakia’s deepening integration within the EU as CEO at EurActiv, the EU policy news network in Brussels.  Rick is a dual citizen of Slovakia and the United States.  He has a BA in political science from Trinity College in Hartford, and an MS from Columbia Journalism School, and an MBA from Harvard.  He is the author of the family memoir A Country Lost, Then Found: Discovering My Father’s Slovakia.      For questions about the event, email <dcslovaks@yahoo.com>.

The best summer of my life: LIVE.LEARN.INTERN in Washington DC

I’ve always wanted to know and see as much as possible as well as experience and discover how things work in practice. Thanks to successful studies and several internships in government, I did pretty well in achieving this dream of mine. However, I have never even imagined that I would be able to actually live my dream on the other shore of the Atlantic.

Thanks to friend of mine, I learned about the American educational non-profit organization The Fund for American Studies (hereinafter referred to as “TFAS”). Since 1993, TFAS jointly with Friends of Slovakia (hereinafter referred to as “FOS”) annually provides Slovak students full scholarships to summer school at George Mason University (formerly Georgetown University). TFAS was founded in 1967 by Charles Edison, former Governor of the State of New Jersey and son of the inventor Thomas Alva Edison.

TFAS Summer School in Washington DC is among the best and most interesting training courses that are offered during the summer holidays in the US capital. It attracts and brings together students from all over the world and from different disciplines. In addition to the program in Washington, TFAS offers also regional programs and summer school in Prague – AIPES, which focuses on political philosophy, political economy and conflict management, complemented by programs in Chile and Hong Kong. Partial or full scholarship can be obtained for each of these programs

In Washington DC, candidates from all over the world can choose a program focused on international relations (ICPES, IEIA), the relationship of public and business sector (IBGA), journalism (IPJ) or volunteering (IPVS). The entire two-month program, in addition to humid and hot weather J, includes a guaranteed full-time internship in a company, organization, business unit, embassy, non-profit organization or public institution chosen according to preferences of a candidate, and in line with the selected program. The summer school and classes generally take place in the evening hours until
9 pm. Therefore, you still have plenty of time for exchanging ideas and exploring the most political city in the world. The program also includes various discussions with renowned guests, lectures on current global economic and political issues, workshops, social activities with classmates, excursions and visits to the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington DC, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Capitol and of course the White House.

In Summer School in Prague – AIPES, almost 120 students from North America, Europe, Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia meet annually in order to address important questions of political philosophy, political economy and conflict management. The academic program is set in a way to provide opportunities to examine the political, economic and cultural issues of the world in democratic conditions. AIPES combines diversity and culture as its basic principles for the education of future leaders. A rich schedule includes a variety of lectures and panel discussions with representatives from academia, diplomacy and business.

TFAS has broadened my horizons, and enriched me with valuable experience necessary for my future career. I am very grateful that I have been chosen as 2012 participant and I have been awarded a scholarship at the Institute on Economics and International Affairs. Several thousand US dollars is not a small amount of money and without the generous support of TFAS and FOS, this dream would be hardly achievable for a number of Slovak students. Since 1993, we have put together over 70 graduates from Washington and Prague program. We would like to give back what we have been generously granted, and therefore we are currently building the TFAS Slovakia Alumni organization. TFAS Slovakia’s main objective is to promote TFAS programs and activities, and especially fundraising additional scholarships and other types of support for the successfully selected Slovak candidates. I strongly hope that next year I will meet just someone of you.

Monika Izáková (IEIA 2012, President TFAS Slovakia)

 

Application deadline for Washington DC is 15 January 2014, and for AIPES 15 March 2014. For more information:

And contact:

For TFAS programs info: admissions@tfas.org
For AIPES program info: mkwasiborski@TFAS.org

Lecture on City Architecture in Slovakia

Dr  Toran Lecture (1)

Dr. Edward Toran with Amb. Kmec and Amb. Russell

Ambassador Peter Kmec and Friends of Slovakia co-sponsored a lecture October 8 at the Slovak Embassy by Dr. Edward Toran of New York City. Dr. Toran is an expert on art history, architecture and interior design and currently works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He came to the United States after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. During his career in the United States, he designed architectural interiors for leading U.S. corporations and for 15 years was in charge of interior architectural space management for MetLife.

Dr. Toran presented a fascinating illustrated lecture on the history of the development of cities and city architecture in Central Europe and particularly in Slovakia. He explained the factors that influenced the rise and character of cities including their location on major trade routes like the Amber Route and the liberalizing impact on society of the move from rural to city life.

Dr. Toran Gives Lecture at Slovak Embassy

Dr. Toran Gives Lecture at Slovak Embassy

The lecture was given to a large and highly appreciative audience of Friends of Slovakia members and others interested in Slovakia in general and architecture in particular. Five U.S. Foreign Service officers in language training prior to assignment to Slovakia attended as well as members of the Slovak American Society of Washington, the Carpatho-Rusyn Society of Washington and members of the diplomatic corps.

Czech and Slovak Freedom Lecture on November 12, 2013

Czech Ambassador to Great Britain Michael Zantovsky

Czech Ambassador to Great Britain Michael Zantovsky will deliver the Czech and Slovak Freedom Lecture. Amb. Zantovsky was formerly Czech ambassador to the United States (1992-1997). The lecture will be hosted by the Wilson Center for International Scholars from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. An invitation will be forthcoming.

The event is sponsored by American Friends of the Czech Republic, Friends of Slovakia, and the Czech and Slovak embassies. Previous speakers have included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Czech President Vaclav Klaus and former Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova. Last year’s speaker was former Slovak Ambassador to the United States Martin Butora.

Prof. John Palka to Discuss New Book in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, October 26, the Friends of Slovakia will co-sponsor a talk by Prof. John Palka who will present his new book, My Slovakia, My Family: One Family’s Role in the Birth of a Nation. The event, co-sponsored with the Slovak American Society of Washington, D.C., will take place at 2:00 pm at the Slovak Embassy, 3523 International Court, NW, Washington D.C. (near the Van Ness Metro stop). The event is free, open to the public, and light refreshments will be available.

palkaDr. John Palka is a retired professor of biology at the University of Washington and is the grandson of Dr. Milan Hodža, who was the prime minister of Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1938, the years leading up to World War II. In the eyes of many historians, Dr. Hodza was the most prominent Slovak political leader of the first half of the 20th century.

In reviewing the book, former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Ted Russell states, “Professor Palka’s book, My Slovakia, My Family, is a fascinating and superbly documented biography of the Hodža and Pálka families’ significant role in Slovak history. It includes dramatic accounts of his family’s escape first from Nazi-occupied Europe and then from Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia to a new life in America. It provides vivid portraits of courage and love of freedom and country that will resonate with anyone interested in Slovak history and Slovaks in America.”

In the Footsteps of Sts. Cyril and Methodius

Cyril_Methodius

On the occasion of the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Sts. Cyril and Methodius to the Slavs of Great Moravia the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in cooperation with Friends of Slovakia organizes an exhibit on their lives and works and a photo lecture by Pavol Demes. The opening of the exhibit will take place at the Slovak Embassy on Thursday, September 26th, 2013 at 6.30 pm.

Pavol Demes, a skilled photographer as well as a foreign policy expert, has traveled the past three years to many places connected with the lives of these historic figures. In his lecture he will share with the audience images from these places and discuss the relevance of Sts. Cyril and Methodius for Slovakia and Europe.

Invitation [pdf]

 

2013 Slovak Scholars Honored

This year, Friends of Slovakia (FOS) was able to sponsor five very deserving Slovak Scholars to attend one of the Fund for American Studies (TFAS) summer institutes in Washington, DC at George Mason University. To honor these students and introduce them to FOS members and the embassy staff, Amb. Peter Kmec and FOS co-hosted a luncheon at the Slovak Embassy on July 23.

The Fund for American Studies is a 46-year-old organization started by Charles Edison, former governor of New Jersey and the son of the inventor, Thomas Edison. The Fund’s summer institutes are among the most prominent summer institutes offered in the nation’s capital and attract students from throughout the United States, including the Ivy League universities and military academies, in addition to foreign students. The students are instructed by outstanding professors, gain valuable work experience in Washington, DC and learn from one another about campus life in the US and foreign countries.

Michal Magusin is a student at Comenius University in Bratislava who attended the Institute on Political Journalism. He was an intern at Industry Dive, a private company providing information for its clients, where he wrote features, did research
and said he learned a lot.

Denisa Pacholska attends the University of St Andrews and while in Washington, she studied at the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems. Her internship was with the National Taxpayers Union Foundation where she learned about the government’s taxing authority and how citizens organize to keep tabs on the government’s taxing policies.

Andrea Tittelová attends Comenius University in Bratislava and participated in the Institute on Business and Government Affairs. She interned with United States Steel Corporation, a company that owns the largest steel plant in Slovakia.

Gabriela Virostkova is a student at the University of Economics in Bratislava and attended the Institute on Economics and International Affairs. Her internship was with a non-profit organization, Character Education Partnership that fosters effective character education in US schools.

Matej Uhlik is also at Comenius University in Bratislava and attended the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems. His internship was with Iona, a non-governmental organization that supports seniors. Matej worked as a new media communications intern responsible for developing new ways of utilizing online-based technologies and services to expand Iona’s objectives.

FOS would like to thank the Slovak-American Foundation, Mr. Richard Marko and Ambassador Theodore ‘Tod’ Sedgwick, the US Ambassador to Slovakia, for their generous contributions to the FOS Scholarship Fund. The June 2013 Slovak-American Awards Dinner raised additional funds for this important initiative. FOS members are urged to consider sponsoring a partial scholarship of $5500 for 2014 Slovak Scholars or donating funds to help continue this highly successful program. This is the ninth year that FOS has been able to bring outstanding Slovak scholars to Washington, DC. FOS has maintained contact with the Slovak graduates of this program and they have gone on to pursue productive and successful careers.

Fourth Slovak-American Awards Dinner Held

Anton Zajac, Joe Senko, Andrew Rajec, Amb. Peter Kmec, Maria Hurajova, Amb. Ted Russell, Miroslav Vajs and Bill Tucker

Anton Zajac, Joe Senko, Andrew Rajec, Amb. Peter Kmec, Maria Hurajova, Amb. Ted Russell, Miroslav Vajs and Bill Tucker

On Friday, June 14, Friends of Slovakia (FOS) hosted the fourth Slovak-American Awards Dinner at the Washington Golf & Country Club in Arlington, Virginia. The event was a black-tie gala celebration of the 20th anniversary of Slovak independence and friendly ties with the United States. The dinner was attended by approximately 110 guests, who enjoyed a pre-dinner reception on the outdoor patio overlooking the club’s golf course with a view of the National Cathedral in the background. The evening’s keynote speaker was Mr. George Babcoke, Senior Vice President-Europe and Global Operations Services for U.S. Steel Corporation. A few days prior to the dinner it was announced that Mr. Babcoke was returning to Slovakia to serve as President of US Steel Kosice, a position he held several years earlier.

Slovak Scholar Andrea Tittelova speaks at awards dinner

Slovak Scholar Andrea Tittelova speaks at awards dinner

Slovak Ambassador Peter Kmec served as Honorary Chair of the dinner, Bill Tucker, Vice Chairman & President of FOS served as the Dinner Chairman, and Honorary Consul Ed Zelenak was the entertaining Master of Ceremonies. Also in attendance this year were the five 2013 Slovak scholarship recipients as this year’s dinner coincided with their stay in Washington, DC to attend one of the summer institutes sponsored by the Fund for American Studies.

As in previous years, a number of awards were presented during the evening to the following
worthy recipients:

• Two Business/Economic Awards were presented to Mr. Anton Zajac, President of ESET North America and to Mr. Milan Filo, President of Eco-Invest, a.s. Mr. Zajac is the founder of ESET, an award winning cyber security company and the most successful Slovak company in the U.S. Mr. Filo is the founder of Eco-Invest, a privately held Slovak investment and holding group, and a generous contributor to charitable organizations in Slovakia. Mr. Filo was unable to attend in person and the award was accepted on his behalf by Mr. Miroslav Vajs, Chairman of the Eco-Invest Board of Directors.

• The Slovak-American of the Year Award was presented to Mr. Andrew Rajec, President of the First Catholic Union of the USA and Canada. Mr. Rajec is a graduate of Marquette University Law School and has worked for national accounting CPA firms Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Young and has served as Senior Vice President and National Counsel for a national life insurance company. As president of FCSU, Mr. Rajec has expanded FSCU activities into 26 states and the organization has increased its assets by $116 million.

• The Education/Culture Award was presented to the Slovak-American Foundation (SAF). SAF’s mission is “to foster the relationship and strengthen the bonds between the US and the Slovak Republic by providing educational and exchange opportunities that will enrich the economic, social and political fabric, and help develop knowledge, skills, and abilities that will lead to prosperity.” Ms. Maria Hurajova, a member of the SAF Board of Directors, accepted the award on behalf of SAF.

A silent auction was held during the gala dinner, the proceeds of which will benefit the FOS Scholarship Fund and Amb. Peter Burian Roma Scholarship.

Musical entertainment was provided by Stereo Strings.

Ambassador Kmec Hosts Dinner for 2013 Awardees

On Thursday evening June 13, the day before the Slovak-American Awards Dinner, Slovak Ambassador Peter Kmec hosted a small dinner at his residence in honor of the 2013 Slovak-American Awards Dinner honorees:

• Mr. Andrew Rajec, President of the First Catholic Slovak Union of the USA and Canada – Recipient of the Slovak- American of the Year Award;

• Mr. Anton Zajac, President of ESET North America – Recipient of the Business/Economic Award; and

• Mary McPherson and Maria Hurajova of the Slovak-American Foundation – Recipient of the Education/Culture Award. They all attended the dinner.

• Mr. Milan Filo, President of Eco-Invest, and recipient of the Business/Economic Award, was unable to attend.

Joe Senko, Bill Tucker, Ambassador Theodore E. Russell, and Ken Bombara, members of the Friends of Slovakia Executive Committee, also attended the intimate dinner, which provided an opportunity for the 2013 awardees to get acquainted with one another, with the ambassador and with Friends of Slovakia prior to the gala dinner the following evening. Ambassador Kmec and Bill Tucker, Chairman of the Slovak-American Awards Dinner, made some brief welcoming remarks and then each honoree was asked to say a few words about their company or organization and a lively discussion followed.

Joe Senko Awarded Presidential Medal

 

Presidential Medal recepient Joe Senko (right) with his wife Albinka and Amb. Peter Kmec

Presidential Medal recepient Joe Senko (right) with his wife Albinka and Amb. Peter Kmec

At a recent reception at the Slovak Embassy in Washington D.C., Joseph Senko of Pittsburgh, PA was awarded the Medal of the President of the Slovak Republic for extraordinary merit in the development of friendly relations with the Slovak Republic, as well as promoting Slovakia throughout the world. This is the highest award that the Slovak government awards to foreigners.

Joe Senko has been the Slovak Honorary Consul for Pennsylvania since 1997. In this capacity, he receives and responds to approximately 100 inquires each year. Shortly after becoming Honorary Consul, he formed the Western Pennsylvania Slovak Cultural Association, a non-profit organization that presents approximately ten Slovak cultural programs each year.

He is also a charter member of the executive committee of the Washington D.C. based non-profit organization, Friends of Slovakia, which was formed in 2001 to seek friendship and understanding between Slovakia and the United States. Joe is the Chairman and Treasurer. This organization has sponsored over 125 events since it was formed including scholarships for Slovak students, annual freedom lectures, receptions for dignitaries from Slovakia and artistic and cultural events.

Some of the more notable programs which Joe has accomplished were:

■The collection, repair and shipment of 250 computers to Slovakia which were distributed to 45 schools
■Shipment of 60,000 copies of an American children’s magazine which were distributed to 830 schools to assist in learning English
■Shipment of medical supplies to hospitals in Svidnik, Bardejov and Bratislava
■Senko is presently arranging his tenth tour to Slovakia. Over 250 people from the United States have participated in his previous tours