The project APVV The developmental trends of ethnic relations in Slovakia (comparative research on national issues in the years 2004-2020) – (TESS2) – TESS, under the supervision of prof. PaedDr. Štefan Šutaj, DrSc. received an award in 2021 The award of SAS for the results in scientific-research work, which process the extensive analysis of national policy and national relations in Slovakia including historical context of these relations by means of interdisciplinary oriented empirical research with use of unique methodology of national issues research.
There were scientists from two institutions working on this project between the years 2016 – 2020:
From the Institute of social sciences SAS: prof. PhDr. Jozef Výrost, DrSc.; PhDr. Mária Homišinová, PhD.; Mgr. Michal Kentoš, PhD.; Mgr. Mária Ďurkovská, PhD.; RNDr. Branislav Šprocha, PhD.; Mgr. Lucia Heldáková, PhD.; Mgr. Lucia Ištoňová, PhD.; Mgr. Klara Kohoutová, PhD.; Mgr. Juraj Martonyik, PhD.
From the Faculty of Arts of UPJŠ:doc. PhDr. Jana Šutajová, PhD.; Mgr. Nikola Regináčová, PhD.; Mgr. Mikuláš Jančura, PhD.; Mgr. Barbara Kacerová.
The goal of the project was to analyse the development of national relations in the years 2004-2016, which has following intentions: to cover the development in the area of national relations, the strategy of national Slovak policy, goals and intentions of political parties based on ethnicity, demographic development of national minorities on the beginning of 21st century, cooperation of European and Slovak politics on the level of institutions and management of national politics, evaluation of activities and politics of single governments in particular period, the perception of history of national minorities, research of historical memory with special focus on historical events with ethnic background (Slovak-Hungarian relations, Ruthenian-Ukrainian relations, relations of majority and minority, Roma issues, new minorities, migration, safety…). The second goal of the project was the execution of the interdisciplinary oriented empirical research focused on theoretical, methodological and practical issues of ethnicity and national relations (keeping methodological processes applied in empirical research from 2004).
The independent part of the research were interethnic relations. There were four thematic areas within this topic of research. The first one were the opinions of respondents on historical events, which negatively affected interethnic relations and their identification. The second area focused on current interethnic relations, particularly in the minorities, minorities vs. majorities and vice versa. The third one they focused on actual issues affecting these relations. In the last area there were opinions of respondents regarding the perspectives of interethnic relations.
The results of the comparison of the ethnic groups’ relations living in Slovakia in the first round in 2004 brought the information about the evaluation of relations Slovaks to the minorities. As well they provided the data about the perception of relations from minorities’ point of view and the evaluation majority towards minorities. From average Slovak values of attitudes towards minorities was the most of relations evaluated as neutral. More positive evaluation reported Slovak respondents towards Czech minority, however more negative evaluation was associated with Roma citizens. Within mutual evaluations of relations was expected reciprocity of attitudes, what was confirmed. In most of mutual relations (attitudes of Slovaks towards minorities and attitudes of minorities towards Slovaks) we noticed comparable evaluations. The exception were the relations and mutual evaluations of Slovaks and Gypsies. From methodological point of view is the advantage of reported approach the elimination of impact of self-protective mechanisms, when individuals usually evaluate their relations towards others better as the relations of others towards them.
Graph 1: The answers of respondents according their ethnicity on the question “If you have to right now to evaluate the relations of your (minority) with other minorities living in Slovakia, you would say, that they are …” (we report the average of answers on 7-point scale, where 1 means very bad and 7 means good relations).
In the second round of data collection in 2017 in the area of current interethnic relations, evaluated on different levels, the results showed that relations of Slovaks and minorities comparing the years 2004 and 2017 had positive trend of evaluation. The respondents – Hungarians on the level of intraethnic relationship – evaluated it slightly positively, with increase of positive evaluation comparing to the year 2004. Even Hungarian minority perceived the relations with Slovaks more positively than in research in 2004, although the relations towards other minorities from Hungarian respondents had slightly decreasing trend. We noticed the same improvement of relations ‘evaluation of Slovaks towards Hungarians as well Hungarians towards Slovaks. Generally, majority ethnic group showed the improvement of relations towards other minorities in 2017. The slight deterioration of relations towards Hungarians was reported by Gypsies. In the relations towards minorities were pointed out mostly issues associated with coexistence with Roma community. Regarding the trends, in next few years, were the relations within the minority, relations of Slovaks towards minorities and relations of minorities towards Slovaks evaluated as ones, which have the tendency of slight improvement. It´s interesting that the evaluation of Slovaks towards Gypsies and its change from negative to neutral. Hungarian respondents evaluated Gypsies slightly negatively and it was similar in both rounds of research. The similar evaluation was reported by Ruthenian respondents. The relations of Gypsies and Slovaks are right now very neutral.
Graph 2: The answers of respondents according their ethnicity on the question “If you have to right now to evaluate the relations of your (minority) with other minorities living in Slovakia, you would say, that they are …” (we report the average of answers on 7-point scale, where 1 means very bad and 7 means good relations).
The results of research contributing to the scientific studies and final monograph bring the facts, analyse events, which happened in Slovak society in researched period in the field of national politics and national relations with focus on the issue of Hungarian minority in Slovakia. They prove the reasons and consequences of state national politics regarding the position and opinions of citizens, which were found by social-psychological research. They analyse the events, which happened in Slovak society and they verify the reasons and consequences of state national politics regarding the position and opinions of citizens. They pay attention towards national politics of Hungary too, because lots of “Slovak solutions”, either regarding the politics of government, politics of parties or the activities of organizations and associations of Hungarian minorities in Slovakia, were affected by Hungarian “national” politics.” The specific part is devoted to the political parties and to the results of elections in Slovakia, including the elections of president of republic and elections to European parliament. The attention is focused on specific issues, which are rooted in the past of Slovak-Hungarian relations (Trianon, the decrees of E. Beneš, independence). Based on the systematic analysis and comparison confirm factual connection of history, historical knowledge saved in historical memory and politics and its effect on national relations and conflicts.
The results of the project were delivered to the Office of president of Slovak republic based on the Contract with the Office of president of Slovak republic from October 17, 2016 about using of research´s results. In case of interest, the more detailed results will be provided to other state institutions, like the government of Slovak republic and NC SR, and other parts of government, similarly as it was with research of the Institute of Social Sciences SAS in the years 2004 – 2009.
The research results in this complicated area of ethnical relations is possible to use for practical activities of managing sphere, which has always historical and practical-political and social dimension.
The important part of usability are research results, which are theoretical-methodological preconditions for generating other research projects in this area and possible development forecasting in the field of ethnical relations.
The way, how ethnical changes were perceived by respondents, could be significant not only for the knowledge of Slovak society (for the science, politics), but for the development of mutual relations between the citizens of Slovaks regarding their ethnicity.
The full results of this research projects are available on the website.