CEPA Forum 2017 in Washington DC Examines Atlanticism in a Time of Change

Slovak State Secretary, Ivan Korcok, speaking at the CEPA Forum. (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

Slovak State Secretary, Ivan Korcok, speaking at the CEPA Forum. (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

The annual transatlantic security conference organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) has become the leading event in Washington D.C. focused on issues in Central and Eastern Europe. The theme of this year’s CEPA Forum 2017 was “Preserving Atlanticism in a Time of Change,” and was held on September 21-22 in Washington, D.C. The Forum was organized by CEPA in cooperation with the Embassy of Hungary and together with a number of corporate and non-profit supporters, including the Visegrad Fund, Friends of Slovakia (FOS) and American Friends of the Czech Republic. FOS has provided support to the Forum for the past several years. This year, Ivan Korcok, Slovak State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, and Dusan Fischer, Researcher with the Slovak Foreign Policy Assn., were featured speakers.

Ivan Korcok, Slovak State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

Ivan Korcok, Slovak State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

Dusan Fischer, Researcher, Slovak Foreign Policy Assn. (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

Dusan Fischer, Researcher, Slovak Foreign Policy Assn. (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

The two-day conference presented several panels featuring experts and government officials discussing various aspects of transatlantic relations from a variety of perspectives, including those of the U.S, E.U. and the individual countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The first day panels held at the historic Willard Hotel examined issues such as: Strengthening the Visegrad Four (V-4); Reforming NATO for the 21 st Century; The Impact of U.S.-Russia Relations on Euro-Atlantic Security; the War of Narratives in the Information Age; U.S. and European Perspectives on Migration and Security. The second day of the conference was held at the Meridian International Center and focused more specifically on defense and military issues, particularly the threat to its neighbors arising from Russia’s recent actions. This second day of the CEPA Forum was off-the- record. You can view the full video of the first day conference sessions, by accessing http://cepaforum.org/home

 Dusan Fischer comments at the CEPA Forum (Photo courtesy of CEPA)


Dusan Fischer comments at the CEPA Forum (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

Dusan Fischer (center) participates in CEPA Forum panel on Migration and Security (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

Dusan Fischer (center) participates in CEPA Forum panel on Migration and Security (Photo courtesy of CEPA)

Lt. General Ben Hodges, Commander, U.S. Army Europe (center) at the CEPA Forum, with (left) Karin Shuey, Washington, DC Director of the Estonian American National Council and (right) Ken Bombara, Vice Chairman, Friends of Slovakia.

Lt. General Ben Hodges, Commander, U.S. Army Europe (center) at the CEPA Forum, with (left) Karin Shuey, Washington, DC Director of the Estonian American National Council and (right) Ken Bombara, Vice Chairman, Friends of Slovakia.

 

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CEO of the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Gail Naughton, by Pavol Demes

CEO Gail NaughtonHere is an interview of the President and CEO of the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Gail Naughton,  by Pavol Demes, former Slovak Minister of International Relations, Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of Slovakia and currently Senior Non-Resident Fellow with the German Marshall Fund. CEO Naughton describes some of the exciting programs the NCSML plans going forward including celebrations in 2018 of the Centennial of the creation of an independent nation of Czechs and Slovaks.

 

Read more: http://tv.teraz.sk/svet-tu-a-teraz/x61xnh7170938-002-034_svet_tat_20170920-s-titulkami/13353/

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“How Cleveland Played a Crucial Role in U.S. Diplomacy in Central Europe” with Amb. Tod Sedgwick

Amb. Tod Sedgwick

On September 26, former U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia and Friends of Slovakia Board of Advisors member Tod Sedgwick gave a fascinating luncheon presentation on “How Cleveland Played a Crucial Role in U.S. Diplomacy in Central Europe”. Ambassador Sedgwick gave a brief overview of the history of Slovak emigration to the U.S. He described why and how Slovaks emigrated in such large numbers to the US in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, including particularly to the Cleveland and Pittsburgh areas. He explained how they eventually came together with Czechs to push for a new, independent nation of Czechs and Slovaks by signing the October 1915 Cleveland Agreement and later the Pittsburgh Agreement in May 1918 which led to the formation of independent Czechoslovakia under President T.G. Masaryk.  Attendees included members of the Cleveland Club of Washington, D.C. and Slovak Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Jozef Polakovic. FOS members Richard Marko, Helen Fedor and FOS Founding Chairman Ted Russell also attended. The luncheon lecture was organized by Cleveland Club President Brooke Stoddard.

Upcoming – Save the Date:

Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Pittsburgh Agreement – May 31, 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA.

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A warm sendoff to our 2017 FOS Scholars.

Scholars with Dr. Eva Jenkins and Richard Marko

During a splendid reception Saturday for the 2017 FOS Slovak Scholars, hosted by FOS Board member Dr. Eva Jenkins and her husband Robert, FOS stalwart & enthusiastic pilot Richard Marko informed the Scholars he would offer them all a flight over the NYC skyline before they depart.

Bravo to Eva and Robert for that warm sendoff to our Scholars!

Come check out more of our reception photos over on our Facebook page!

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Slovak Ambassador meets with the FOS Slovak Scholars

Slovak Ambassador Peter Kmec welcomed the five 2017 Friends of Slovakia Slovak Scholars to the Embassy together with program supporters including FOS Chairman Joe Senko and President of The Fund for American Studies Roger Ream. TFAS runs this intensive two month summer program at George Mason University. The FOS Scholars also have internships with local organizations relevant to their interests. 

Contributions from individual FOS supporters and from the Slovak-American Foundation and Slovak American Business and Innovation Council have made the program available to 44 Slovak Scholars thus far. 

Featured in the photos above from left to right (*=FOS scholar): Mária Sofia Takáčová*; TFAS President Roger Ream; FOS Chairman Joe Senko;  Jeff Reid, Adjunct Professor and Director Georgetown Entrepreneur Initiative & Matúš’ sponsor; Slovak Ambassador Peter Kmec; Jaroslav Leitmann*; Andrea Ratkošová; Matúš Záhradník; Michaela Halásová*; Roger Kodat; Amb. Ted Russel; Ken Bombara; and Miroslav Ivan of the Slovak Embassy.

Behind the group is the FOS Wall of Honor which thanks contributors that support FOS’ cultural and educational activities.

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FOS Cheers on Team Slovakia at the 2017 First Global Robotics Competition

FOS made an appearance to cheer on our young Team Slovakia at the 2017 international robotics competition hosted by First Global and held at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC.  The annual competition aims to boost passion and engagement for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in youth around the world.

Like, comment, and share our photos over on our Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/friendsofslovakia/

Slovak team member working on robot

Slovak team member working on robot

Members of Team Slovakia

Members of Team Slovakia

Team Ambassador, Stefan Vadocz, of Aeromobil

Team Ambassador, Stefan Vadocz, of Aeromobil

Team Slovak Robot

Team Slovak Robot

Amb. Kmec confers with Team Slovakia

Amb. Kmec confers with Team Slovakia

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Lajcak Elected President of the UN Assembly

Miroslav Lacjak at the UNOn May 31, the United Nations General Assembly elected by acclimation Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak of Slovakia as President of its upcoming 72nd session.  Following his election at UN Headquarters in New York, Mr. Lajcak outlined his priorities for his tenure: people; peace and prevention; migration; sustainable development goals; climate action; and human rights, which would guide his work as an overarching principle.

FOS Board members Joe Senko and Sabina Sabados at the Lacjak receptionFriends of Slovakia Board members Joe Senko and Sabrina Sabados were among the guests at a reception given by Frantisek Ruzicka, Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations, honoring Mr. Lajcak’s election.

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2017 Slovak Summer Scholars are Now in Washington

The 2017 Slovak summer scholars are now in Washington!

Friends of Slovakia (FOS) is pleased to announce that we currently have five Slovak scholars studying and interning in Washington, DC this summer through the Fund for American Studies (TFAS). This marks the 14th consecutive year of our scholarship program, which has continued thanks to generous support from a variety of donors. The Slovak America Foundation (SAF) has been sponsoring students since 2012, and this year, we have additional funding from the Slovak American Business and Innovation Council (SABIC). The scholars will remain in Washington through late July.

FOS 2017 Summer Scholars

A special thank you to these supporting organizations and our many generous individual, corporate, and nonprofit donors:

TFAS logo
SAF logo
SABIC logo

This year’s scholars include the following:

FOS Summer Scholar Maria Sofia TakacovaMária Sofia Takáčová (from Košice-Krásna) is completing her Bachelor’s degree in Management at Comenius University in Bratislava. She has worked as an intern at Google (focusing on Digital Garage) and has served as a Client account administrator at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Bratislava. Takáčová is active in the Consulting Club Bratislava, a student organization that helps students develop hard-skills, soft-skills and network required to pass the highest level job interviews. In addition, she has been involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award as a volunteer and a mentor. During her stay in Washington, Takáčová is interning at Mentors, Inc. Her summer scholarship is sponsored by FOS individual donors.

FOS Summer Scholar Matúš ZáhradníkMatúš Záhradník (from Ružomberok) will complete his Master’s degree in Public Policy at Comenius University this August. During his studies, he has been employed as marketing coordinator at Nexteria, an NGO that works with young leaders in business and the non-profit sector. In that role, Záhradník has worked on events and outreach (including social media promotion) and has been responsible for the Leadership Academy program’s hiring campaign. He has also worked with SAF on the Startup Awards. While in Washington, Záhradník is interning at the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative – Hoyas Startup Program. His summer scholarship is sponsored by SAF.

FOS Summer Scholar Jaroslav LeitmannJaroslav Leitmann (from Kľačno, near Prievidza) recently completed his Master’s degree in International Public Policy at University College London. He has worked as a project assistant at the Slovak innovation company Neulogy and as a communications consultant at the Slovak Organization for R&D Activities, where he led an online strategy for a science popularization project. Leitmann has also interned with the European Commission. During his stay in Washington, Leitmann is working at the company TE Connectivity. His summer scholarship is sponsored by SAF.

FOS Summer Scholar Andrea RatkosovaAndrea Ratkošová (from Malý Šariš, near Prešov) is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in International Relations at Masaryk University in Brno, with expected completion in 2018. Her work experience includes corporate partnerships assistant with GLOBSEC and development activities with the Pontis Foundation. She is a Vice President in the Student Section of the International Institute of Political Science at her university. While in Washington, Ratkošová is interning at the Slovak Embassy. Her summer scholarship is sponsored by SABIC.

 

FOS 2017 Summer Scholar Michaela Halasova

Michaela Halásová (from Bratislava) will earn her Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Amsterdam this autumn. She has worked in the human capital area with the LEAF organization and has also been employed with Venture Investors Corporate Finance and Accenture. Moreover, Halásová participated in McKinsey’s SHE Leads program, EY’s Leadership Academy, and the Turing Society Front End Bootcamp. During her stay in Washington, Halásová is interning at the National Academy of Public Administration. Her summer scholarship is sponsored by SABIC.

 

For anyone who would like to contribute to funding a scholarship for summer 2018, please see the FOS website. The TFAS programs have proved invaluable to past scholars.

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FOS mourns the loss of 3 BOA members: Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Eugene Cernan, and Michael Novak

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Distinguished Foreign Policy Figure, Dies at 89: The Third Member of FOS’ Board of Advisors to Pass in Early 2017

Friends of Slovakia was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, on May 26 at the age of 89. During his career, Dr. Brzezinski achieved great distinction as National Security Advisor in the Carter Administration and as a distinguished foreign policy intellectual and strategist. The Polish-born Brzezinski played significant roles in many foreign policy issues and actions, including battling Communist oppression in his native Poland and Eastern Europe generally, and in integrating the doctrine of human rights into the practice of foreign policy.  He also graciously agreed to join the FOS Board of Advisors at its inception to lend support to Slovakia’s ambitions of integration with Western institutions.  A giant in the field of foreign policy, Dr. Brzezinski, will be remembered for his razor-sharp intellect and wit, and will be greatly missed on the world stage.  Among the obituaries published upon his passing are the following:

WASHINGTON POST Brzezinski Obituary
NEW YORK TIMES Brzezinski Obituary

Early 2017 Sees the Passing of Noted Slovak Americans

Earlier this year saw the passing of two major Slovak-American figures, who also were members of the Friends of Slovakia Board of Advisors, astronaut Eugene Cernan and social philosopher Michael Novak.  Both were nationally and internationally known and recognized for their accomplishments.

Eugene Cernan was a Navy test pilot who went on to become a NASA astronaut and achieved enduring fame as the last person to walk on the moon, as part of the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.  He began his career as an astronaut in 1963 after obtaining an electrical engineering degree from Purdue University in 1956, and a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering in 1963, from the Naval Postgraduate School.  He participated in a Gemini space program mission, during which he performed space walks and became the youngest American in space at the age of 32.  He then participated in the Apollo 10 mission, which did the preparatory work for the Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. After several other Apollo missions landed astronauts on the moon, Cernan was on Apollo 17, which was the last to do so in 1972.  After retiring from the Navy and NASA in 1976, Cernan continued his career in the private sector and continued to promote the value of continuing space exploration.

Cernan was born in Chicago, on March 14, 1934, the son of Rose (Cihlar) and Andrew Cernan.  His father was of Slovak descent and his mother was of Czech descent.  In addition to the FOS Board of Advisors, Cernan also served on the Board of Advisors of the American Friends of the Czech Republic.  He passed away on January 16, at the age of 82.

Michael Novak was a Roman Catholic social philosopher who became particularly recognized for developing the intellectual argument that on moral and ethical grounds, free-market capitalism represented a superior social system.  His arguments emerged in the 1980s as Western democracies battled the Communist powers, and saw validation as the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of that decade.  He passed away on February 17 in Washington, at the age of 83.

Novak, a former Catholic seminarian, began his career as an important thinker on the political left.  He opposed the Vietnam War and touted reforms in the Catholic Church.  However, as his thinking evolved, he came to question many of the positions of the left and turned his writings to exploring the moral argument for the capitalist system in comparison with socialism.  In 1982, he wrote a highly successful book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, where he argued for the moral superiority of capitalism as a social system based on liberty, individual worth, and Judeo-Christian principles.  He developed his ideas further in several other works, and gained recognition among free-market devotees and conservative politicians, such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, as well as among eastern European figures such as Lech Walesa in Poland and Václav Havel in Czechoslovakia.  Over his lifetime, his writings ranged over a variety of topics, and in 1994, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which is a highly prestigious award in the field of theology.

Michael Novak was born September 9, 1933, in Johnstown, PA, the grandson of Slovak immigrants. He grew up in Indiana, PA, and McKeesport, PA.  He attended Notre Dame University and received bachelor’s degrees from Stonehill College in Massachusetts and Gregorian University in Rome.  Novak also attended Catholic University in Washington, DC, for a period of time.  He went on to receive a master’s degree from Harvard, and then held several academic positions.  Mr. Novak was always proud of his Slovak-American heritage and was well known to the Washington-area community, as he spent the latter part of his career as a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  In 2000, he delivered the inaugural Annual Czech and Slovak Freedom Lecture at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington.

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