The Slovak Spectator

Freedom can be lost democratically, from the inside

(Source: TASR)

Has the country survived the abductions of the state, the inoculation of Mečiar, Fico governments and the Kočner underworld without harm to democracy?

The new sense of freedom was powerful and formative. Everyone felt better, standing in the cold November squares. “We are not like them,” the crowd chanted, and even those who had been silent for years or had reported their neighbours for listening to Radio Free Europe, meant it.

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Those were the days when we all found a version of a better society within us.

>>> Click here for more stories about the Velvet Revolution

Democracy was fragile and it required constant care to make sure it did not squint, or develop flat feet or a crooked back. Nobody knew in 1993 if it was ready to bear the illnesses that the founders of the state had smuggled into the new Slovak Republic from the old regime under the cover of the roar of the New Year fireworks.

It was a nation born after the break-up of Czechoslovakia by the winners of democratic elections as an answer to the questions that nobody asked the nation in a referendum.

And in its cradle lurked a tradition that was yet to take on monstrous dimensions, a tradition that says, ‘it’s after the election, get used to it’ or ‘win elections and you can do anything’.

Metamorphoses of freedom

Not everyone consumed freedom in the same way. Not everyone was one of the lucky ones, the generation of Husak’s children, born in the 1970s, who could cross borders and go to foreign universities to wash off the sediments of the communist schooling system.

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Beata Balogová joined The Slovak Spectator in 2003 and became the first Slovak editor-in-chief of Slovakia’s English-language weekly. Ms. Balogová was in charge of the paper and its special publications between 2003 and 2006. She spent nine months at Columbia University’s School of Journalism from 2006 to 2007, and in June 2007 she again took over as the editor-in-chief of the paper. Prior to joining The Slovak Spectator, Ms. Balogová worked for Slovakia’s first private newswire, SITA, and the state newswire, TASR. Ms. Balogová graduated with a Master of Science degree in journalism from the School of Journalism of Columbia University in New York. She also has a Master of Arts degree cum laude from the Comenius University School of Journalism, majoring in journalism. In January 2015 she left the Spectator to lead editorial team of the SME daily paper. She continues to cooperate with the Spectator. Twitter

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