Slovak World Congress President Paul Rusnak.
However, the road to acquire a Slovak passport for people born in the country and who emigrated to the US is for the time being at least a labrynth of conflicting statements that has clouded how the matter should be solved.
The day after Rusnak met Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar for the first time and pressed his case for dual nationality on October 14, government spokeswoman Magda Pospíšilová said the Slovak side would love to see Slovak-born Americans with two passports, but that it was an issue for the American government to wrestle with.
"If the American Slovaks could convince the U.S. State Department about this, the Slovak government will support it. We'll not be against them. We allow dual citizenship for Czechs, so why wouldn't we allow it for them?" However, Rusnak contended that all is kosher with the American govermment, since it announced last May that dual citizenship was possible.
"All I'm saying is that statements made by the Slovak delegation...is that they would love to embrace us back as citizens, but that it's a US government issue. If that's the case, the Slovak and US governments are not communicating, or the Slovak government is misinterpreting."
The root of the problem is easily identifiable. According to Pospíšilová, the then-Czechoslovak government headed by President Eduard Beneš in 1935 sealed an agreement with the US barring dual passport-holders. That law has stuck ever since, persisting even after the Slovak and Czech Republic went their separate ways in 1993.
Rusnak argued that Americans from Slovakia should have dual citizenship because they were Slovak citizens in the first place. "Citizenship is a birthright. If you're parents are Brazilian and you're born in Disneyland, then you're an American citizen. We were all born in Slovakia. We feel that shouldn't be taken from us."
23. Oct 1996 at 0:00 | Richard Lewis