Thursday, September 17th 21:30

Two decades of Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe

- how the Czechs and Slovaks made it to Europe without borders

This evening session will look back at twenty years of democratic reform, modernization and Europeanization in the Czech and Slovak Republics. Starting with the Velvet Revolution, civil society played a critical role in Czechoslovakia, bolstered initial reforms in the joint state, and took diverging paths after the split into two independent countries. Two decades of civil society development, similarities and differences between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and the role of NGOs for broader social and political change will be central topics for discussion.

Martin Bútora, is the Honorary President of the Institute for Public Affairs. He was Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States (1999-2003). Mr. Bútora hold a degree in sociology from the Faculty of Arts of the Comenius University, Bratislava, In the late sixties, he was the editor-in-chief of student newspapers and later deputy-chief editor of Reflex magazine and the weekly publication “Kultúrny život” [Cultural Life]. In November 1989, Mr. Bútora was one of the founders of the political movement Public Against Violence. In the early nineties he held a position of a Human Rights Advisor to the President of Czech and Slovak Federal Republic Václav Havel. He has taught at Charles University in Prague and at the Department of Political Science, Trnava University. Mr. Bútora is the author of three prosaic works, several TV programs and film scripts, and translations of theatrical plays.

Pavlína Kalousová is Executive Director of the Czech Donors Forum, an umbrella organization for foundation and business donors. Before she worked as coordinator for the Czech Republic for the Cooperating Netherlands Foundations for Central and Eastern Europe. She has initiated various internationally-used programs, as well as the Donors’ Message Service, the first complex SMS-giving service. She has also worked with the Czech Government on policies and conditions for giving and the charity sector. In addition she teaches corporate responsibility and non-profit management at the University of Economics in Prague.

Alena Panikova has been actively involved in Slovak civil society development. She started working for the OSF Bratislava – Slovakia in 1993 as a program coordinator, since 1995  the Executive Director. She belongs to the founding members of Slovak Donors Forum (SDF), association of donor organizations aimed at mutual cooperation and coordination of its members and development of philanthropy in Slovakia. Member of a group of leading personalities in the OK98, and 2002 campaign for free and fair elections. Ms Panikova is external teacher at the University of Drama Arts, Department of Theatre Management, subject Financing NGOs. She has graduated at the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University in Bratislava.

Jiri Pehe is a political analyst and author of several books, articles and analytical studies on developments in Eastern Europe and in 2006 and has published a novel "Na okraji zmizelého". Mr Pehe is currently Director of New York University in Prague and the head of NYU's Prague Institute for Democracy, Economy, and Culture (PIDEC). From September 1997 to May 1999 Pehe was Director of the Political Department of Czech President Vaclav Havel and later served as President Havel’s adviser. Before this he was Director of Analysis and Research Department at the Open Media Research Institute in Prague as well as analyst and director at the Research Institute of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich, Germany. Mr Pehe was Director of East European Studies at Freedom House in New York. and studied law and philosophy at Charles University in Prague.


Pavol Demes has been the Director for Central and Eastern Europe of the German Marshall Fund of the United States since January 2000, and is based in Bratislava, Slovakia.  Previously he served as the Executive Director of the SAIA-Service Center for the Third Sector.  He also served as Foreign Policy Advisor to the President of the Slovak Republic (1993-97), and from 1991-92 he was the Slovak Minister of International Relations. An internationally recognized NGO leader, Demes has served on the boards of national and international associations and foundations.  Prior to the "Velvet Revolution" in November 1989, Demes was a bio-medical researcher at Comenius University in Bratislava. He is a graduate of Charles University in Prague (1980).  


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