What can the debates on Scottish independence learn from Slovakia?

Published: 22 May 2013

leading expert on Slovak independence, Dr Ivo Samson, will present a lecture assessing the implications of the Czecho-Slovak “velvet divorce” on Scottish independence

Director of the Institute for Security and Defence Studies in the Slovak Republic and leading expert on Slovak independence, Dr Ivo Samson, will present a lecture assessing the implications of the Czecho-Slovak “velvet divorce” on Scottish independence.

The lecture, entitled ‘Lessons Learned by a New Independent State in Central and Eastern Europe: Problems, Challenges and International Position: Analogies to Scotland’ is the final lecture in the acclaimed ‘Security and an Independent Scotland’ series, hosted by the University of Glasgow’s Global Security Network (16.45 - 18.45, Senate Room, Main Building, University of Glasgow).

Dr Samson will present some striking analogies between Scotland and Slovakia, alongside the notable differences between the partition of Czechoslovakia and the possible “divorce” between Scotland and the UK. He will also examine some of the specific features of Slovakia’s independence before, during and after the division of Czechoslovakia including the technical problems and details with special focus on security aspects. 

Dr Philips O’Brien, Director of the University of Glasgow’s Global Security Network, said: “We are very pleased to welcome Dr Samson to the University of Glasgow to address this very interesting question. Recognizing that the cases of Scotland and Slovakia are not identical, a lot of analogies do still exist and can help us better understand the possible implications of independence and a Tartan Divorce between Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

Twenty years ago Czechoslovakia broke up through a mutual consensus from two of its federal parts, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. Compared with the turbulences in the former Soviet Union and the civil wars that followed the breakup of former Yugoslavia, analysts hold up the Czecho-Slovak divorce as a successful example of the dissolution of a country.

It has since become known as the “velvet divorce” and is held up as a model for the dissolution of a state in Europe.

Dr Samson said: “After twenty years, the step of dissolution has been seen as a positive one by an overwhelming majority of the population. 

“The analogies and differences between Scotland and Slovakia can be drawn by looking at various factors including: the legal aspects, problems concerning territory, national symbols, currency issues, international recognition, division of property, especially of military items (aircraft, heavy weapons), and problems of double citizenship.

“The reasons for the separation were various including the will of Slovak political elites for independence and the desire of pragmatically minded Czechs to “get rid” of an economically weaker partner in the federation.  In spite of the population´s majority support in favour of the federation, according to several public opinion polls, in 1992 the federal Czechoslovak Assembly (Parliament) agreed with the partition and it became internationally recognized.

“The case of Czechoslovakia enables one to find several differences to the possible “divorce” within the UK but there also exist some striking analogies – in this case between Slovakia and Scotland.”

For more information please contact the University of Glasgow:

Nick Wade, Media Relations Officer, University of Glasgow

0141 330 7126



Notes for editors:

Dr Ivo Samson is currently the Director of the Slovak Ministry of Defense affiliated “Institute of Security and Defense Studies”. Previous to this post he was the Head of the International Security Programme at the Research Center of the Slovak Policy Association. His research focus is primarily on the security and defense of Central Europe with special attention given to the role and place of the European Union, OSCE and NATO.

He has published extensively on the geopolitical position of Central Europe in English, Slovak and German. One of his main works was the Security and Foreign Policy of Slovakia in the First Years of Independence (2000). It is in this line of thought that Ivo Samson seeks to draw some analogies for Scotland about Slovakia’s experience of the Velvet Divorce and challenges it faced as a newly independent state in Europe. 

First published: 22 May 2013

<< 2013