Do the Czechs and Slovaks want reunification

Ex-premiers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia: Society was against division

DEFAULT: What was the emotional significance of the division of Czechoslovakia 25 years ago for you?

Radičová: People's identity is also shaped by the state in which they live. And for me that was Czechoslovakia. At the same time it was clear that some things had to change in the federation that existed at the time. On the issue of separation, I was one of the organizers of the referendum campaign.

DEFAULT: Let us assume that such a referendum had taken place: What do you as a sociologist say about the likely outcome?

Radičová: The polls we did at the time showed that a clear majority on both the Czech and Slovak sides was against a separation. This continued even after the division was completed. A more positive stance on Slovak statehood only came after the end of the Mečiar era, when the country recovered from the deep fall that had brought us to the brink of bankruptcy.

DEFAULT: Why did Václav Klaus and Vladimír Mečiar, the heads of government of the two republics, push ahead with the separation?

Radičová: Their points of view were very different. Above all, Klaus' economic reforms were diametrically opposed to Mečiar's concepts. In addition, the political landscapes were different on both sides. The 1992 election results were correspondingly heterogeneous. A federal government should, in effect, have been the result of "coalition negotiations" between two completely different political scenes.

DEFAULT: Both countries joined the EU in 2004. Was that some kind of reunion?

Radičová: The prerequisite for the accession of both countries was the fulfillment of fundamental criteria such as equality before the law, social and economic rights, and civil rights. This, of course, created similar legal systems. Differences then came back with the different governments. And so far there has been little continuity in both countries.