Engaging at the Demeš Lecture

On Monday, November 13, 2017 Pavol Demeš, a well-known Slovak expert on international relations and civil society, author and photographer, spoke about Slovakia and the United States: The Ties that Bind at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington D.C.  The event was co-sponsored by Friends of Slovakia (FOS) and the Embassy of the Slovak Republic.  The evening affair was attended by an inquisitive audience including members of FOS, the Embassy, think tanks and US government agencies. FOS President Joe Senko presented Pavol Demeš with a custom-made General Rastislav Štefánik coffee mug at the conclusion.

Pavol Demeš’ personal observations included how Slovakia, as a respected member of the European Union and the Visegrád Group, is doing today both domestically and in its foreign relations.  He also covered a variety of societal trends and key challenges faced by Slovakia including in the areas of education and the judiciary. Pavol Demeš assessed the current state of Slovak – United States relations in today’s political environment and concluded by positing what could be done to improve these relations via enhanced contacts.  Audience members posed at least a dozen excellent questions to which he provided thoughtful and eloquent responses.  The evening ended with a wonderful reception of goulaš and knedle, orechovnik for dessert and, of course, delicious Slovak Wine.

About the presenter:  Pavol Demeš served in the Slovak government, first at the Ministry of Education and later as Minister of International Relations (1991-92), and then as Foreign Policy Advisor to Slovak President Michal Kováč (1993-97). In 1999 he was awarded a six-month public policy research fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.  From 2000 until 2010 he was the Director for Central and Eastern Europe of the German Marshall Fund of the United States based in Bratislava. Since then, he has been a non-resident Senior Fellow with German Marshall Fund and board member of the European Endowment for Democracy. In 1998 he received the EU-US Democracy and Civil Society Award and in 1999 the USAID Democracy and Governance Award.  In 2011 he was awarded a Medal of Honor from the Friends of Slovakia and in 2017 he received the Czech and Slovak Transatlantic Award.

Pavol Demeš

Pavol Demeš with Terezia Filipejova with the Slovak Embassy

(left to right) Martina Hrvolova, Terezia Filipejova, Sharon Fisher, Carrie Slease

(left to right) Dr. Sharon Fisher of FOS, Pavol Demeš, Carrie Slease of IJM

Amb. Ted Russell of FOS with Martina Hrvolova who works with the Center for International Private Enterprise

(left to right) Joe Senko, Pavol Demeš, Ted Russel, Amb. Tod Sedgwick


Our values are our strongest survival weapon

President Andrej Kiska speaking at the Global Security Forum 2017

On Friday, President Andrej Kiska held a speech at the annual GLOBSEC Bratislava Global Security Forum:

“It’s been only few hours since I came back from NATO summit in Brussels. This one was highly anticipated. Not surprisingly — it was the first summit of head of states and governments with the participation of the new US president. And let’s be honest, in months since the US elections many of us in this room were worried about what to expect. Fortunately, our transatlantic bond is as strong as ever. We stick together, we guard each other’s back. The Alliance remains the backbone of our security. And moreover, we have a new ally on board — Montenegro.

All 28 member states are determined to fulfill their share of responsibility. This is also important for me personally as the president of the Slovak Republic. Some of you may know that I’ve been very vocal about the half-hearted attitude of our authorities towards our NATO commitments. So I was pleased to announce yesterday in Brussels that the government approved Slovak contribution to securing our allies in the Baltics through so-called enhanced forward presence. Moreover, we will join up fighting terrorism efforts of the Alliance by deploying Slovak troops to Iraq.”

President Kiska spoke on three points:
“First: we struggle lately to maintain institutions of the West — be it NATO or the EU — as fellowship of truly democratic countries based on common values.

Second, we allowed the enemies of the free world to get into our heads, to meddle too much in our own affairs.

Third, we let our elections to be deformed into a survival game of our democratic destiny.”

Read the entire speech on Global Security Forum website: