Slovakia through the eyes of a Czech intellectual

Published: 7. 7. 2022
Author: Dita Hradecká
Photo: Photo archives of Pavel Kosatík
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Publicist, screenwriter, and author, Pavel Kosatík, has released perhaps his best book so far: "The Slovak Century." "I think that we, together with the Slovaks, should start once again considering a confederation affixed by a joint head of state," he says, unafraid to flesh out his idea on the mutuality of both nations.

Whenever Pavel Kosatík would dive into Czech history, he would also end up being constantly fascinated by the personalities and events of the past of the Slovak nation. The material he collected over the years condensed into a book that was published late last year by the Torst publishing house under the name "The Slovak Century." The upcoming fourth reprint of the book, it ranking among the best-selling publications, and the widespread positive reviews from readers and historians from both sides of the border clearly show that the topic resonated with the people.

Slovak tour

That is one of the reasons why Pavel Kosatík set out on a book tour around Slovakia, during which he travelled from west to east and back again, and visited fifteen towns this May. To kick the tour off, he met with President Zuzana Čaputová, continuing on to meetings with readers in Pezinek, Žilina, Košice, Kežmark, Trnava... The different encounters and things he has experienced are likely enough to write another book, he says. "It is not only important to discuss the past of our two nations but also primarily their future. That is why I meet with my Slovak readers, with people who believe in the possibility of mutuality between our two nations, same as I do. I like discussing the particulars of what a joint state would mean. And especially – because history books are written for the sake of the future – about what we could mean to one another in the future and whether we could be doing more. I feel that we could, and so, I would like to inject positive impetus into these efforts in conjunction with other people. I want to connect people who are close to one another but may not realize it yet. On both sides of the border," Kosatík stated.

He feels that the Czech people have made many mistakes in the 20th century in relation to the Slovaks. But they at least managed to not hold them back in their rapid, but ultimately positive development. "I am fascinated – perhaps even more so because I am Czech – by how the Slovaks have leveraged the events of the 20th century, how far they have come in that period. I feel as though it shines through even more in contrast to us Czechs who have been the closest to them this whole time," writes the author in the foreword.

Closest nations

The book was presented in Prague multiple times by Slovak Ambassador, Rastislav Káčer. He finds it fascinating, as does Slovak historian, Rastislav Chmel. "The book shines with Kosatík's ability to explain the entire plane of the 20th century in a synthetic, yet highly personal and critical manner. His writing is stimulating if perhaps a touch provocative for some. He often disturbs the beliefs and notions of the Slovaks as well as the Czechs," Chmel wrote. "I feel that even following the 1992 split of Czechoslovakia, we are the two nations with the closest ties in the world," says Kosatík. "Perhaps we will come up with some joint initiatives in the future that would see us become a strong voice in the European Union as two equal partners. Let us start working on that now," he puts forth.

Pavel Kosatík with Slovak President, Zuzana Čaputová.

From the left, prosaist and musician, Jáchym Topol, Slovak historian, Vojtěch Čelko, Pavel Kosatík, Ambassador to Czechia, Rastislav Káčer.

Cover of Pavel Kosatík's book.

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