30 years ago, a reopened consulate renewed U.S.-Slovak ties [photo gallery]

Although ties between Americans and Slovaks reach back generations, a new era of relations began when the U.S. Consulate in Bratislava reopened on May 27, 1991.

The 30th anniversary of that day stands as a reminder of the two nations’ shared commitment to democratic governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, openness and transparency, and deep economic ties that generate shared prosperity.

The reopening (pictured above) took place 41 years to the day after the consulate was closed at the height of the Cold War. In attendance were (from left to right) U.S. Senator and former vice-consul Claiborne Pell, U.S. Ambassador Shirley Temple Black, Prime Minister Ján Čarnogurský and Foreign Minister Jiří Dienstbier of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, and U.S. Consul General Paul Hacker.


Left: People watching as the embassy seal is put into place (© Pavel Neubauer/TASR Photo) Top right: Man raising U.S. flag (© Pavel Neubauer/TASR Photo) Bottom right: United States Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia (© Adam Jan Figel/Shutterstock)
Left: (© Pavel Neubauer/TASR Photo) Top right: (© Pavel Neubauer/TASR Photo) Bottom right: (© Adam Jan Figel/Shutterstock)

On January 4, 1993, the former consulate became the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia, and issued its first diplomatic visa to Slovak Foreign Minister Milan Kňažko in advance of his upcoming trip to New York to begin talks for Slovakia’s membership in the United Nations.


Two photos of notes, flowers and candles (U.S. Embassy Slovakia)
(U.S. Embassy Slovakia)

Following the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, residents of Bratislava expressed their condolences by placing flowers and lighting candles in front of the embassy, demonstrating the depth and strength of the ties that connect the United States and Slovakia. The sign on the left reads, “I sympathize with you, America. Although I am just 12 years old, I know what´s happening in the USA.”


Madeleine Albright looking at Mikuláš Dzurinda holding up hockey jersey (© Rudi Blaha/AP Images)
(© Rudi Blaha/AP Images)

Born in then-Czechoslovakia in 1937, Madeleine Albright would become both the first female U.S. secretary of state and the first secretary of state to visit Slovakia, making numerous trips both diplomatic and personal.

Here, Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, right, holds a hockey jersey given to him in 1999 by Albright with the name of Washington Capitals star and Slovak native Peter Bondra.


Left photo: Hillary Rodham Clinton chatting with crowd of people (© Ron Edmonds/AP Images) Right photo: Hillary Rodham Clinton holding a doll with a folk dancer in Slovak dress (© Ron Edmonds/AP Images)
(© Ron Edmonds/AP Images)

First lady (and future U.S. senator and secretary of state) Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Slovakia in 1996 and 1997, meeting both times with nongovernmental organizations working to aid civil society and democracy in Slovakia. “Any government that wants to make sure that democracy lives,” she told them, “must understand that the NGO is a partner in that process.”

Here, Clinton visits Bratislava in 1996.


Left photo: George W. Bush speaking in front of White House (© Susan Walsh/AP Images) Right photo: George W. Bush and Mikuláš Dzurinda standing near lectern, waving (© Charles Dharapak/AP Images)
Left: (© Susan Walsh/AP Images) Right: (© Charles Dharapak/AP Images)

Left: On March 29, 2004, President George W. Bush joined NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at a NATO membership ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House to welcome seven former Iron Curtain nations to the NATO alliance. Right: President Bush, right, with Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda of Slovakia.


U.S. President Bush walks with Slovakia's President Ivan Gasparovic, center, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin (© Charles Dharapak/AP Images)
(© Charles Dharapak/AP Images)

Slovakia played host to President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin for discussions at Bratislava Castle in February 2005. Bush also met with Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič and Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda. He delivered a speech to a large crowd in front of the Slovak National Theater on Hviezdoslavovo Square.


Large room full of people sitting at long tables (© Martin Baumann/TASR/AP Images)
(© Martin Baumann/TASR/AP Images)

Slovakia’s chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 2019 showcased its commitment to the principles of respect for human rights and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states that undergird a rules-based international order.

Antony J. Blinken standing with group of men in suits (State Dept./Ron Przysucha)
(State Dept./Ron Przysucha)

To underscore the important role of the Visegrád Group (V4) countries in strengthening Central Europe and the Transatlantic Alliance, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the V4 foreign ministers — Tomáš Petříček (Czech Republic), Ivan Korčok (Slovakia), Zbigniew Rau (Poland) and Péter Szijjártó (Hungary) — in March in Brussels.

Since its establishment in 1991, the V4 has amplified its members’ collective voices and supported closer ties with the Euro-Atlantic nations  through International Visegrád Fund programs that strengthen democratic institutions and civil society.