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  • Author: Miroslav Tuma
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: On 28 October 1918, the newly created Czechoslovak Republic—incorporating the historic Czech lands (Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia) and Slovakia— declared its independence after three centuries under Austrian and then Austro- Hungarian rule. This First Republic, initially led by its popular first president, Tomá G. Masaryk, lasted until the resignation of his successor, Edvard Bene, in October 1938. This followed an agreement between France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom forcing Czechoslovakia to cede the Sudetenland to Germany. From March 1939 until the end of World War II Czechoslovakia was split into the German Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia and the nominally independent Slovakian State, which was also under de facto German control. Czechoslovakia regained its independence in 1945. The Communist Party took over government in 1948 and in 1955 Czechoslovakia signed the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance (the Warsaw Treaty) along with Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the Soviet Union and, from 1956, the German Democratic Republic. A period of hardline communist rule followed. Attempts at democratic transformation in 1968, the so-called Prague Spring, were ended by a Soviet-led invasion by the forces of fellow Warsaw Treaty Organization members in August 1968, after which the leading reformists were replaced with orthodox Communists. Czechoslovakia's Communist regime relinquished its monopoly on power in November 1989 following more than a week of popular demonstrations, a series of events known as the Velvet Revolution. A former dissident, Václav Havel, was elected president of the renamed Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. On 1 January 1993, the federation was peacefully dissolved and the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (Slovakia) became independent democratic states. In 1999 the Czech Republic joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and in 2004 it joined the European Union.
  • Topic: NATO, Cold War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia