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WPD 50


									WPD51 Processes of racism, civic and ethnic citizenship identity in Slovakia and the Czech republic.

                                        WPD 51

Processes of racism, civic and ethnic citizenship
    identity in Slovakia and the Czech republic.


                Gabriel Bianchi & Barbara Lášticová

             Department of Social and Biological Communication
                      Slovak Academy of Sciences Bratislava


I. CITIZENSHIP ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
1.1 What the quantitative data say ……………………………………………………………………………………………………           3

1.2 Definitions of citizenship ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6
1.3 Rights and duties of being a Slovak/Czech citizen …………………………………………………………… 9
1.4 Equality in civic rights and duties for men and women in Slovakia
   and in the Czech Republic …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 11
1.5 Elections ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
1.6 Demonstrations and perception of the Iraq war ………………………………………………………………… 15
1.7 Organisation’s membership ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 17
1.8 Local citizenship involvement …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 18

2.1 What the quantitative data say …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 20
2.2 Perception of immigration to Slovakia/Czech republic ………………………………………………… 20
   2.2.1 Unconditioned acceptation of immigrants ………………………………………………………………… 21
   2.2.2 Conditional acceptation of immigrants ……………………………………………………………………… 22
   2.2.3 Adaptation of immigrants to the life of the country …………………………………………… 23
2.3 Roma ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25
2.4 Perception of the national and ethnic heterogeneity in studied cities …………………… 26
2.5 Having a partner of another nationality ………………………………………………………………………………… 27

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………………………………… 28

This paper presents a first attempt to analyse the qualitative material gathered in the
framework of the EC funded project “Youth and European Identity” with respect to the
processes of racism, civic and ethnic citizenship identity in Slovakia (Bratislava) and in the
Czech Republic (Prague). The paper consists in two parts, each beginning by a short overview
of the relevant quantitative results.

The first part describes the understandings of the meaning of citizenship, the understanding of
civic rights and duties and the perception of elections in both studied cities. The perception of
demonstrations in the context of the war in Iraq is also explored. Furthermore, it also
investigates the civic participation through the organisation’s membership as well as the
involvement in the local issues.

The second part deals with the immigration to studied countries and taps the processes of
racism and xenophobia. First, it explores the perception of immigrants to Slovakia and the
Czech Republic, then it deals with the Roma issue, with the perception of the ethnic
heterogeneity, and finally it explores the social distance towards foreigners through the
attitudes towards having a partner of different nationality.

The table 1 presents the characteristics of participants in the qualitative part of our research
according to the sample, their sex, the strength of their European identity and the age group
they belong to.
TABLE 1: Characteristics of participants in the qualitative part of the study (sample, sex European identity, age
                               Bratislava (N=27)               Σ               Prague (N=24)
                             High                Low          Bra          High              Low
                        18-21 22-24 18-21 22-24                va
                                                                      18-21 22-24 18-21 22-24 gue

                   Male     0        3        1        6       10     2         0        1        1      4
                   Female   2        3        0        0       5      4         3        1        2      10
                   Male     3        1        1        1       6      1         2        0        1      4
                   Female   2        3        1*       0       6      3         2        0        1      6
               Σ            7        10       3        7       27     10        7        2        5      24
    68c = 98 (don’t know)

  Few participants with low European identity accepted to be contacted again for the purpose of the qualitative
interviewing. From these only few really agreed to be interviewed. In Bratislava, those low European identity
participants who accepted to be contacted again were almost exclusively male.

Concerning the educational background, the Prague “sample” is more educated that the
Bratislava “sample”. 19 out of 24 Prague participants are University students (6 of them
working part-time, 2 full-time at the time of the interview), one person studies at the high
school and one is about to pass the University entry exams. Only 3 out of 24 participants
finished studying and work only, all of them having University qualification.

In Bratislava 16 participants out of 27 are University students (at least 2 of them working part
time at the time of the interview), one person is about to enter the University, after having a
one year experience of first being unemployed and than working part-time in a fashion store.
One person just graduated the University and is going to work as a Volleyball couch. 9 out of
ten participants work full time, all but one (a lawyer) having completed secondary education.

1. 1 What the quantitative data say
In the quantitative part of our research, we asked interviewees about the requirements for
somebody seeking Czech or Slovak citizenship and offered a list of possible requirements
they had to rate from ‘not at all important’ to ‘very important’.

TABLE 2: Percentage answering 3 or 4 on a scale of 0-4 ‘not at all important’ to ‘very important’ to ‘In your
opinion, how important should the following be as requirements for somebody seeking Slovak/Czech

                                                             Prague                     Bratislava
                                                      Random        Target        Random         Target
They were born in CR/SR                                20,0%        18,0%          26,2%         22,1%
At least one parent from CR/SR                         19,7%        19,1%          30,3%         27,6%
Czech/Slovak ancestors                                 14,7%        13,6%          16,7%         20,2%
To have lived in CR/SR for at least 5 years            61,9%        58,6%          64,9%         65,2%
To be working in CR/SR                                 66,1%        59,7%          64,9%         58,8%
They speak Czech/Slovak                                67,1%        64,7%          81,9%         84,5%
To abide by the country’s laws and institutions        92,7%        95,5%          94,5%         97,9%
Pass a test about CR/SR                                18,0%        20,4%          25,3%         23,1%
To take an oath of allegiance to the country           15,2%        13,6%          24,8%         25,9%
To feel that they belong in the country                55,2%        61,6%          58,4%         61,0%

The requirement considered as very important by a vast majority is ‘to abide by the country’s
laws and institutions’. This is followed by ´speak Slovak/Czech´ as an official language and
‘to be working in the country’, ´to have lived in CR/SR for at least 5 years´ and ‘to feel that
they belong in the country’ (all found important by the majority of participants). All of these
items emphasise civic rather than ethnic dimensions of citizenship and are of equal
importance for both the target group and random sample participants.

The ´ethnic’ items such as ‘having Slovak/Czech ancestors’, ‘having at least one parent from
Slovakia/Czech Republic and ´being born in Slovakia/Czech Republic´ are endorsed as of
importance only by a minority of participants. However, a significantly larger proportion of
young people from the Bratislava random sample than from the Prague random sample
endorse the importance of ‘having at least one parent from the country´.

We also intended to investigate the political views of young people. We wanted to know
whether they would participate in the political life of their country by voting and explore what
social and political issues were important to them. Participants were asked about their view of
the effectiveness of voting in the statements listed below (table 2).
TABLE 3: Percentage of participants who ´agree´ or ´ strongly agree´ with the following statements
                                                                         Prague                Bratislava
                                                                   random      target     random        target
‘It really does matter which political party is in power’           51,8%      64,0%       61,5%        71,4%
‘I have no influence over what the government is doing’             56,3%      42,7%       51,9%        39,8%
‘There is a moral obligation to vote’                               50,2%      59,5%       53,9%        66,3%
‘There is little point in voting’                                   21,7%       5,6%        9,8%         6,1%

A significant proportion of interviewees were positive about the effectiveness of voting. Most
sceptical were the young people from Prague random sample. Although the majority of the
participants (slim in the case of Prague random sample) agree that it matters what political
party is in power, more than half of the young people from both Bratislava and Prague
random samples feel that they have no influence over what the government is doing.

We also asked the participants whether they would vote if there were elections next weekend.

TABLE 4: Percentage of the participants answering ´yes´ to the question ´If there were elections next weekend,
would you vote in them? ´
                                                       Prague                            Bratislava
                                            random              target          random                target
Local election                               58,1%              74,2%            39,5%                65,3%
Regional election                            59,1%              77,5%            39,8%                61,2%
National election                            72,7%              84,3%            77,6%                81,6%
European election                            67,2%              80,9%            67,8%                76,5%

Voting in parliamentary (national) and European elections are clearly considered to be the
most important. The proportion of potential voters is the same in Prague and Bratislava.
Willingness to vote in local and regional elections is higher in Prague than in Bratislava.
Willingness to vote is also higher in all of the types of election among the target groups than
among random samples in both study sites.

Furthermore, the participants were presented a list of social and political issues and asked to
what extent each item was of interest to them personally. The issues of most interest were ‘job

and training opportunities’ (69,9 - 88,6%), ‘quality and content of education’ (59,6 – 89,7%).
The discrimination against national minorities seems to be of more interest for both groups of
young people from Prague than for their Bratislava peers (50,3% - 51,7% vs. 32,5% - 37,1%
respectively). The issue of least interest overall was animal rights (30,6 - 41,0%).

1.2 Definitions of citizenship
When asked earlier in the interview whether their national identity is connected with ethnicity
or rather with belonging to the state, the great majority of the participants in both cities said
that nationality and citizenship are two distinct things. In most of the cases, citizenship is
perceived as a concept that is quite distant from their everyday lives, being something formal
and closely tied with bureaucratic procedures. Later in the interview, the participants were
explicitly asked to define what citizenship means for them.

The most represented is the conventional definition of citizenship as a relationship to the
state, or belonging to the state (Karol-Brat273/1-LOW; Maria-Brat 268/1-HIGH; David-
Brat516/2-HIGH; Andrej-Brat515/2- HIGH; Maroš-Brat112/1-LOW, Tamara-Brat107/1-
HIGH; Naďa-Brat262/1-HIGH; Michal-Brat404/1-LOW).

Inextricably linked with this relationship is the civic participation and interest of citizens in
public issues (Fero-Brat110/1-LOW, Andrej-Brat515/2- HIGH; David-Brat516/2-HIGH). In
the following quotation, the state is not seen as a body totally remote from the people.
   “Mmmm citizenship? (2s). It is actually some kind of affiliation with a certain state, that is (...) it
   is taking part in elections (...) how one participates within the state, but actually the state is not
   just some politicians who do what they want to do, but they are elected representatives of people.”
   (167) Andrej-Brat515/2- HIGH

The relationships to the state implies also having certain rights (Martin-Brat481/2-LOW) and
duties e.g. voting and paying taxes (Daniel-Brat 36/1-HIGH) as well as abide by the laws of
the country (Monika-Brat513/2-HIGH; Karolina-Brat349/2-HIGH; David-Brat516/2-HIGH).

Being a resident of a state does not necessarily mean that one feels being of that nationality.
Although the following participant reckons that the choice of citizenship may be totally
instrumental, she disapproves of Slovak sportsmen (e.g. tennis players) having official
residence outside of Slovakia because of lower taxation (e.g. in Monaco).

   “Citizenship? It is only about being a resident somewhere, and as concerning some formalities or
   dealing with authorities it is easier to be a citizen of that state… that is literally that, however, the
   way one feels… let us say some sports professionals acquire citizenship of this or that state and
   represent that state, that seems weird to me, but maybe they just do it because they love the sport
   and they want to do it on a higher level and conditions are more suitable in the other state, yet it
   seems perverted to me…” (669) When further probed, she agrees that a person could be a citizen
   of Slovakia, yet feel as a Czech. (677) Nina-Brat227/1-HIGH

For the following participant the citizenship seems to be more about the relation with the
nation (ethnic), even though he reckons that in general the concept of citizenship is more
linked to the state. He stresses the importance of speaking the official language, which is a
core element of “feeling of being a Slovak”. Those criticised for not speaking the language
are the most probably the members of the Hungarian ethnic minority.
   “…Relationship with this nation… to this community of people in which I live, that… I have
   Slovak citizenship, I feel as a Slovak, so I simply try to be such a Slovak (...) or to this state in
   which I live, since it is more understood from the point of view of those states.” 491 [I: What about
   people who do not have Slovak nationality, but they are Slovak citizens?] “What I find important
   is how they perceive the country they live in. If someone says he/she feels as a Slovak and does not
   speak Slovak at all, I definitely do not believe that.” (500) Peter-Brat266/1-LOW

In addition to knowing the language, the citizenship is defined as being attached to the
country and think in the similar way as one’s co-citizens.
   “One must know the language of the country and feel attached to the country, not that much to the
   people, but to the country. One should understand how the people think and think in a similar
   way”. Lenka-Brat250/1-HIGH

In contrast, for others the citizenship is not important (Edo-Brat122/1-LOW), it means just an
administrative impersonal concept free of emotional attachment.
   “To have an ID card, but no personal emotional relationship.” Lucia-Brat487/2-HIGH

In the following case, the citizenship is seen as equivalent with the nationality in the sense of
being a formal label with which the state categorizes people in order to have financial
   “I would say it is the same thing as that nationality. It is such a label, categorizing someone in
   some way, I do not know why. But it has to do with the fact that a state has some money for each
   inhabitant, so the state needs to hedge itself with this kind of a little fence so as to know from
   whom to collect.” (269) He almost does not think of himself as of a Slovak citizen. (281) Matúš-


Also in Prague, the citizenship is mostly conceptualised as a relation to the state implying
some rights and duties (Pavla-PragPP/1-LOW, Milan-Prag455/1-HIGH; Ruzena-Prag 235/1-
LOW; Adriana-Prag13/2-HIGH; Tomáš-Prag368/2-HIGH; Anna-Prag10/1-HIGH).

However, the formal aspect of citizenship is stressed more than in Bratislava (Ondřej-
Prag322/1-LOW; Katerina-Prag346/2-HIGH).
    “For me citizenship means passport, ID card and these bureaucratic procedures.” Dita-

Unlike in Bratislava, explicit contrast is made between citizenship as a formal concept and
nationality as a concept endowed with emotion – “It is a matter of heart” (Simona-Prag58/1-
    “Well, citizenship is, in my opinion, a relationship to the state or a relationship with the state. It
    isn’t…or it is partly an emotional relationship or only to a minimum degree, but I would rather
    understand citizenship as a matter of administration.” Kryštof-Prag7/2-HIGH(672-674)

Also, the instrumental nature of citizenship choice is elaborated more in detail, being
contrasted with the primordial beliefs about the determinism of birth for being a country’s
    “Well, it is that you are born in the country… But, I think that it depends on every individual. (…)
    It means that you can be born in one country but feel being a French citizen.” Kamila-Prag452/2-

In practical life, the citizenship is considered as more important than the nationality.
    “In many countries they don’t make a difference between the nationality and the citizenship.”
    (492) “For me it is hard to make a difference. But the citizenship is linked to some rights and
    duties. (…) The nationality should stay always the same but the citizenship can change, if you
    move to another country. (…) For me the nationality is more about the feelings, I feel being
    something. But practically, the citizenship is more important than the nationality.” (498-507)

The importance of local citizenship involvement in building the civic society from the bottom
up is also stressed by one of the Prague participants.
    Defines citizenship as “civic society” (does not want it to sound as a cliché). “It means being
    engaged in the life of ones community, feeling responsible for it, willing to participate in common
    decision making. The opposite is not going to vote, which is quite common in my milieu, and it
    bothers me a lot. I understand the citizenship more as engagement at the local level, which I
    consider as more useful/efficient than an engagement in big politics.” Matej-Prag407/2-HIGH

Table 5: Overview of categories that came up in the interviews - concerning the domain of citizenship (“yes”
indicates that the category occurred in the particular city).

      Category of citizenship                Specific subcategory                   Bratislava      Prague
                               “belonging” to the state                                yes            yes
                               civic participation and interest in public issues,
                                                                                       yes             yes
                                “civil society” in sense of “local citizenship”         -              yes
     Citizenship as a kind of
                               rights, duties and abiding by the laws                  yes             yes
     relationship to the state
                               may be instrumental, by choice                          yes             yes
                               may be either instrumental or (primordially)
                               determined by place of birth - depending on the           -             yes
                               individuality of the particular person
                               speaking the official language                          yes              -
     Citizenship is about the
                               attachment to the country                               yes              -
    relationship to the nation
                               thinking in similar way as fellow citizens              yes              -
                               for ID purposes                                         yes             yes
     Not important - just an
                               identical with “nationality”; in sense of state
     administrative concept                                                            yes              -
                               administration over the inhabitants
                               formal nature of citizenship as opposed to the
    Defined in direct contrast                                                           -             yes
                               emotional nature of nationality
           to nationality
                               citizenship is more important than nationality            -             yes

1.3 Rights and duties of being a Czech/Slovak citizen
In both studied cities, the question about rights and duties was not answered with ease. The
participants had problem to mention any rights and duties, it was apparent that they are not
accustomed to think in these terms.

The main rights mentioned by Prague participants are: primarily to participate in elections,
then freedom of speech and religion, being protected by the state in different respects, access
to free education and healthcare, etc.

The main duties listed are: primarily abide by the laws and pay taxes, participate in elections,
but also expressing solidarity towards one’s country and one’s co-citizens and participate in
the defence of the country. The citizens should be active in seeking the information about
their rights and duties.
    “A citizen should actively seek information about what he can do and what he cannot. The
    ignorance of the law is no defence. People are quite ignorant in this respect.” Vit-Prag271/1-

Some participants consider the relation of the state with the citizens as a contract implying
reciprocity “what you give to the state, the state should pay it back to you” (Simona-Prag58/1-
LOW); others are more moderate in this respect.

   “I would probably see it as the basic duty to pay taxes. Rather from the point of view of solidarity,
   say, with the neighbours so as their children could study, or with his your elderly neighbour so
   that she gets her pension. Well, from this point of view as solidarity with society, I would
   understand it as a moral duty given by law. I would consider also defence of the country as a duty.
   (…) And the rights? I expect that… being a citizen of the Czech Republic, this state will care for
   my safety … that the state would not interfere with my life or even would endanger my life… also
   the state should be able to protect me…and to protect, say, also my family or people close to me
   against criminality. Definitely a sort of reciprocal service for paying taxes.” (677-693) Kryštof-

Being a citizen of a state and having rights and duties does not mean that one must stay bound
to one particular country for ever, there is a possibility to change one’s citizenship.
   “My duties are to pay taxes and to abide by the laws, but I don’t not think I must stay faithful to
   the State and live here till I die. I can also change my citizenship”. Adriana-Prag13/2-HIGH

However, some are able to mention their civic rights, but not their civic duties.
   “There must be some duties but I have no idea about them. I live without worries.” Alice-

   “Well, I have certainly the right to vote… And I consider it is an important right… I think one
   should decide about what is going on in this country and who is leading this country. And
   duties…? I would not say I have no duties but…” When prompted about taxes: “It is not a duty. It
   just exists. (…) It is like paying the rent”. Kamila-Prag452/2-HIGH

The majority of Bratislava participants mention the same main rights and duties as in Prague.

Unlike in Prague, the right to free healthcare was criticised by one of participants, because it
facilitates the practice of bribes, which is nowadays fought by the Slovak Ministry of
Healthcare: although people pay their money, they do not have the care guaranteed “on
   “What I object to the most is the right to free healthcare. I think a certain basic standard level
   should be guaranteed to all, but if someone wants anything beyond that, one should pay for it.”
   (389-393) Romana-Brat337/2-HIGH

Duties specific for Bratislava are “to represent the state when abroad”, “not devastate the
country one lives in” (Nina-Brat227/1-HIGH) and “to live with dignity as expected from a
Slovak” (Ján-Brat20/1-HIGH).

However, striking is the number of those, who do not realise having any duties towards the
state (Karolina-Brat349/2-HIGH; Edo-Brat122/1-LOW) or who quasi deny it (Zuzana-
Brat487/2-98; Michal-Brat404/1-LOW).

    “If someone says that you are a citizen of some territory, of some republic, I do not think there are
    any obligations arising from that; although I know they do arise from that, even the law could
    enforce that, but I personally think that no one has the right to place any obligations on you just
    because you live on a certain territory. And who is that someone? Whose territory is it? Did he
    pay for it? Whom did he buy it from? Who did sell it to him? So I think it is stupid to define it like
    this. Maybe an obligation in my opinion of a person towards oneself is that one should keep
    improving the place where one lives.” (641) Matúš-Brat492/2-HIGH

Eventually, duties may be perceived as something tied to the personal sphere of life rather
than to the state. The following participant has problems with listing rights and duties and
finally mentions elections, but only after a prompt. As his main preoccupation nowadays is to
pay the rent and feed his new-formed family, the duties towards the sate are much less salient.
    “I have enough obligations at the moment since I am providing for a three-person family with one
    salary, and at the same time I have to pay the rent of 9.5 thousand per month, which I think is
    quite a great deal of responsibility…” (648) Maroš-Brat112/1-LOW

Not only duties, but also rights are denied being associated solely with oppression.
    “No duties, you cannot oblige a person to do anything, the only duty is to speak the language of
    the country. (…) People do not need to have any rights, because they are not oppressed“. (390)

Table 6: Overview of categories that came up in the interviews - concerning the domain of rights and duties
(“yes” indicates that the category occurred in the particular city, yes yes yes means there was a strong consensus
about it ).
      Category of rights        Bratislava        Prague          Category of duties      Bratislava      Prague
         participating in                                         participating in                        yes
                                   yes             yes                                       yes
             elections                                                elections
       freedom of speech           yes             yes              paying taxes             yes          yes
    being protected by the                                    solidarity with the state                   yes
                                   yes             yes                                       yes
                state                                              (e.g. defense)
          access to free                                                                                  yes
                                   yes             yes           abide by the laws           yes
    education & healthcare
           a contract of                                             a contract of
      reciprocity between           -              yes           reciprocity between           -          yes
        state and citizen                                          state and citizen
     right to change one’s                                      to represent the state                      -
                                    -              yes                                       yes
            citizenship                                              when abroad
          free access to                                         not to devastate the                       -
                                   yes              -                                        yes
      healthcare doubted                                                country
                                                               to live with dignity as                      -
      freedom of religion           -              yes                                       yes
                                                              expected from a Slovak
                                                               unable to mention any                      yes
                                                                                          yes yes yes
                                                                      civic duties
    denying rights (“what
       for? we are not             yes              -             denying duties          yes yes yes       -
                                                               duties understood as
                                                               duties towards one´s          yes            -

1.4 Equality in civic rights and duties for men and women in Slovakia and the Czech
Equality of rights and duties for women and man is repeatedly stated and approved (by
participants in both cities, both male and female); some (both male and female participants),
however, point out the tension between formal equality of rights and the reality of
discrimination concerning mainly women’s career and salary, but also under representation of
women in politics.
       “At the formal level there are no differences in rights for men and women, but in practice
       women have lower salaries than men and are asked whether they have children when applying
       for a job. But it depends on the concrete people, on the way they were brought up and how
       they behave towards women.” Alžběta-Prague-female

Men and women in Bratislava and Prague are seen as more equal in their rights than men and
women in the “countryside”:
       “Women in Prague are more ambitious than in the countryside. In the villages men and
       women are still not seen as equal. (…) And the women just try to create a family, have
       children and so, but it is a bit different in Prague.” Kamila-Prague-female

However, traditional gender roles division (considered as natural) may be used to support
women’s discrimination:
       “I think for a woman it is more difficult to get a top position in a firm than for a man. It is
       because men think that women cannot manage it, but also because of the family and children.
       When a woman has children, it is better to have a man on such a position, because the woman
       stays at home with the kids while the man does not. (…) I approve of it because I think it is
       natural.” Kateřina-Prague-female

Another view is a scepticism concerning the practice of women’s rights caused by momentous
male dominance in partner relationships and disapproval of female “obedience”.
       “They [rights and duties] should be equal for men and women.... Although some men interpret
       them differently, because they think they are the superior race (…) some men really prefer this
       kind of woman that obeys to everything they say. That kind of relationship would not work for
       me… Because a relationship is about harmony of people having equal rights.” Nina-

According to some, it is the role of the state to ensure the equality, and if it does not “it does
not fulfil its duties” (Kryštof-Prague-male). According to others, the decisive part of the
responsibility is attributed to the individual woman (Adriana and Dana-Prague-females).

Besides these opinions widely shared in general discourse, some women acknowledge that
also men are discriminated in some particular spheres of life, such as access to child after

       “Simply that they are discriminated in the child rearing…and when they get divorced, it’s
       mostly the woman who gets the child... I personally don’t have a feeling of being somehow
       discriminated because I am a woman. I’ve never experienced it.” Anna-Prague-female

Finally, the differences between men’s and women’s rights and duties can also be recognized
without being perceived as discrimination.
       “… Are different, because the military service is compulsory for men, and a man does not get
       10 000 Czech Crowns after the birth of the child, or the financial contribution to the hormonal
       contraception.” Dana-Prague-female

1.5 Elections
The majority think elections are important and one should participate in them. These young
Slovak participants were target group of the get out and vote campaign before general
elections in autumn 2002 led by Slovak NGO’s and the reasons for voting presented in this
campaign are often reproduced also by our participants, in a more or less identical wording.
The main reasons for participation are: possibility to influence the functioning of the country,
expressing one’s opinions/decide, elections being a democratic instrument and the vote of
each citizen matters. As already suggested, the participation in elections is considered as a
civic right by some and as a duty by others. The following participant uses the definition of
election widely spread in Slovak society:
   “Elections mean choosing the lesser evil. (…) It is obviously a duty for every citizen to vote, and I
   do not understand those who did not vote. (...) It is something where I can also make decisions. If I
   make my decision myself, than I cannot grumble...” Paťo-Brat174/1-HIGH

Again, there is a contrast in perception of local and regional elections on the one hand, and of
parliamentary elections on the other. Some see mainly the local (and only then the regional)
elections as more important than the parliamentary ones, because in the former one decides
about his/her immediate environment, and they are closer to the everyday lives of citizens
(Daniel-Brat 36/1-HIGH; Peter-Brat266/1-LOW). Others consider the parliamentary ones as
more important, because they know the national politicians from the media and, thus, can
make a better decision than in the local and regional ones (Naďa-Brat262/1-HIGH, Michal-
Brat404/1-LOW, Karol-Brat273/1-LOW). Another reason to support this opinion is that the
regional elections have a relatively short tradition in Slovakia (since 2001) and young people
do not exactly know what their sense is (Karol-Brat273/1-LOW; Maria-Brat 268/1-HIGH).

The following participant complains about the lack of choice on the Slovak political scene
and about lack of civic participation and lack of control of citizens upon what politicians are
actually doing.
    “Sure thing, it is important to express oneself, although I think here in Slovakia there is absolutely
    no choice. (…) If all the people only came together and made sure not to leave the course of events
    in the hands of a few, if only the people expressed themselves more, and controlled them, the same
    goes for media (…) each of those citizens is actually that republic (…) the only thing is it does not
    work that way, but a handful of people is doing whatever they will. (630) Matúš-Brat492/2-HIGH

Some think even that “people are disgusted with all those elections’ (Karol-Brat273/1-LOW)
because there are “too many elections” in Slovakia (Lucia-Brat487/2-HIGH).2 The following
participant questions the trustworthiness of the system of elections in Slovakia, yet she always
goes to vote.
    “On one side it is a very good thing. That people can decide what they want. On the other hand, I
    do not trust it much. (…) Because, I think, that if someone wants really bad, they do not have a
    problem to change these results… to their benefit.”3 Tamara-Brat107/1-HIGH(638)

Some are sceptical abut the parliamentary (national) elections, but more optimistic about the
EU ones, because there will be new politicians who are not tired of politics.
    “Political parties always promise the moon before elections, but then everything ends up
    differently. I do not take part in elections because the turnout is low anyway and my participation
    would not help anything. I want to take part in EU elections so that new politicians could run for
    offices, those who are not fed up yet. Lucia-Brat487/2-HIGH(539-546)

The EU referendum was of particular importance for some. The following participant voted in
parliamentary and local elections, but not in the referendum about EU membership, because
she did not have enough info to make a good decision.
    ”In the elections you make a choice only for 4 years, but on the referendum it is forever and the
    destiny of the whole country depends on it.” Lenka-Brat250/1-HIGH(401-412)

The reasons for voting in Prague overlap with those in Bratislava.
    “It is as if someone made me a drink and I would have to drink it for the next four years. Going to
    vote is a way to decide whether this drink will be with alcohol or without it, whether it will be
    sweet or not…“ Matej-Prag407/2-HIGH (538)

  In Slovakia, we had regional elections in autumn 2001, then parliamentary elections in September 2002 and
local elections in November 2002 and finally the referendum about the EU accession in May 2003.
  There was a case in the last local elections in Bratislava district Kramáre where this really happened. Also in
1998 parliamentary elections the former PM Mečiar was suspected of planning to manipulate the elections
results but, finally, it did not happen.

However, the “not voting means no right to grumble” argument is more frequent in Prague
than in Bratislava and the non-participation in elections is disapproved more radically.
   “My friend does not participate in elections and says that not to vote is also a choice… But I think
   it is an expression of disinterest in what is going on here… One should be interested in what is
   around (…) People should express their opinions. Those who don’t do it are stupid.” Kamila-
   Prag452/2-HIGH (569-575)

Some, however, claim being discouraged by the chaos on the Czech political scene.

   “I think that the participation in elections should be obvious for everybody (…) but because of this
   political mess here, I sometimes feel that I don’t care about elections.” Ondrej-Prag322/1-

There are some who do not usually participate in other elections, but plan to take part in the
EU referendum (June 2003), because EU membership “is a good thing” (Tereza-Prag446/2-
HIGH), “it would be coward not to vote” (Ruzena-Prag 235/1-LOW).

Finally, while in the parliamentary elections one votes for a political party, in the local and
regional ones one votes for concrete persons (Ruzena-Prag 235/1-LOW); the international
relations dimension of parliamentary elections is also mentioned (Dana-Prag424/2-HIGH;

1.6 Demonstrations in general and perception of the Iraq war
In both cities, the demonstrations are mainly considered as a way to express ones´ opinions,
as a right, and are seen as positive in this respect. In Bratislava, the role of demonstrations in
raising public awareness of the problem is also stressed.
   “I see demonstrations in positive light, because (3 sec) people could express their opinions (...)
   And they have the right to do that, and at the same time, it moves public opinion or media start
   dealing with it (...) and then it might become a topic which is discussed by the public... if it is
   something that concerns a wider circle of people” (722-727) He never took part in a
   demonstration, he would go“if we declared a war on Hungary or if they cancelled parliamentary
   elections”, which he considers being essential things (741). Pavol-Brat340/2-LOW

However, only few participants in both cities have a personal experience with participation in
demonstrations of any kind; these were mainly the demonstrations during the Velvet
Revolution in 1989, in which they participated with their parents when they were children or
accidental participation, when passing by a demonstration.

In both cities, the need to be personally concerned by the issue the demonstration is about
and to be deeply convinced about the purpose of the demonstration is mentioned. Many

would demonstrate only in case of “big events”, such as Velvet Revolution in 1989 (Rado-
Brat521/2-HIGH; Nina-Brat227/1-HIGH; Pavol-Brat340/2-LOW).
        “I would definitely not demonstrate for the sake of same labour unions (...) maybe against
        some war or something similar, but for me it all seems way too comical, so I would have gone
        there just for some fun and not out of some belief. I do not know, I would have to be sure, I
        would have to believe what I want to struggle for.” (436) Paťo-Brat174/1-HIGH

         “I’m not a person who demonstrates, I prefer discussing with people. But in the case of the
        Czech TV one felt that it concerns him/her4. But I had not a clear –cut position about the war
        in Iraq, there are always pros and cons, and if you participate in a demonstration you must be
        absolutely convinced about it. And I was not.” Alzbeta-Prag309/1(271-290)

In both cities, the demonstrations are accepted, if they are non-violent and are organised in
respect of the law.
    “Every person has the right to express his/her opinion (...) unless they burn down cities or
    something, like it was done I do not know in Seattle or in Prague…” (536) Andrej-Brat515/2-

However, some also express doubts about the true purpose of demonstrations (mere self
presentation of particular groups or persons), hidden behind their explicit purpose (e.g.
environment protection, but also Iraq war).
    “Well what I don’t like about these demonstrations is that they are organized by left-orientated
    people, which I am not, anarchists, such er… (3s) Ecological organizations, like Greenpeace or…
    those I just don’t like very much. I’ve a feeling that at these demonstrations they rather want to
    make themselves visible and fight against globalisation and against capitalism rather than against
    the war. (...) I would probably take part in a demonstration against the regime of Saddam Hussein
    rather than in a demonstration against the war.”Anna-Prag10/1(581-592)

    “From my point of view it is better to go and pick up trash from the front-yard as walking around
    city with a Greenpeace banner… I saw in the papers these pictures of 15 year old kids smiling
    with “NO WAR” banners, and it stroke me as, hm, strange… many people wanted to get
    something out of it, I did not take part in any of these demonstrations…” Rado-Brat521/2-

In both cities, scepticism is also expressed about the real impact of the demonstrations. In
Bratislava, scepticism concerns demonstrations in general, because the decisions are
considered as being made by those who have money and power (Daniel-Brat 36/1-HIGH). In
Prague the sceptical views are raised in the context of the Iraq war, which is considered to
have been decided in advance and the demonstrations were not able to change the course of
events. The following quotation represents the view that only the state or the EU as a whole
could have changed anything, the role of the single citizen being only to participate in

 In winter 2001 when the leading political party nominated a new director of the public Czech TV and the
former direction was forced to leave.

elections and chose representatives who will subsequently make good decisions at the state
    “Going in front of the US Embassy and screaming does not change anything. One feels as a grain
    of dust. (…) The war is something I could not change. My basic right is that I will vote for a party
    that is against the war in Iraq, and when more parties will agree on it, the Czech republic as a
    whole will express through the minister of Foreign Affairs its disapproval of the war and if we
    were in the EU, the EU as a whole would express it. But the voice of an individual or of a crowd
    has not much power.” Vit-Prag271/1-HIGH(374)

Concerning the perception of the war in Iraq as such, the attitudes of participants in both
cities are extremely ambiguous, ranging from it acceptance to its strong refusal. None but one
person has participated in the demonstrations, despite of the disapproval of the war. The
participants do not have enough information about the reasons of the war; they are confused
because of the propaganda spread by both sides of the conflict. Some criticise the fact that the
demonstrations against the war in Iraq served to certain groups as a way to express anti
American attitudes. In general the war in Iraq seems to be quite distant from our participants’
lives and it is not of a big concern for them.
         “I think it [demonstrations] is stupid and I don’t agree, because I think the war was a good
         thing and it was right to attack. They had enough good reasons to do it. The demonstrations
         were dangerous because the people did not have enough information and were easily
         manipulated.” (450) She spent one year in Michigan when 15 and considers her host family as
         her second parents, she has also very good friends there. That’s why she does not like “anti-
         American opinions” (258). Adriana-Prag13/2-HIGH

         “It [demonstrations] is definitely a free expression of one’s opinion, although for example I
         also had mixed feelings in connection with that war, because on one side many people had
         died there, on the other hand, there was a huge amount of military propaganda on both sides.
         (...) The war definitely is not good, but on the other hand, Saddam Hussein is not all that
         spotless... (...) And maybe if there had been such strikes I do not know against Hitler and
         Stalin, or I do not know, maybe many human lives could have been spared…” Andrej-
         Brat515/2- HIGH

         “… America was saying black, Iraq was saying white… and these opinions were just
         alternating. One said he [Saddam] is dead, another that he is alive…. And what really bothers
         me is, that the ordinary people had to suffer because of the war. (…) “Those Americans don’t
         realise this, because, they never experienced any war, except for the South against the North,
         but they fought against each other. But they have never been attacked by another state. And I
         was told how it looked like here during the WWII…. And I was almost praying, ´God, stop this
         war´!” Kamila-Prag452/2 (709-728)

1.7 Organisation’s membership
The great majority in both cities claim not being members of any organisation, neither
sympathising with any.

       “…because I do not feel sufficiently attached to any organization or its ideology.” Matej-

The organisations mentioned are folklore groups (Ludmila-Prag170/1-HIGH; Milan-
Prag455/1-HIGH), Scout (Tomáš-Prag368/2-HIGH), catholic Church (Zuzana-Brat487/2-98,
Alzbeta-Prag309/1-HIGH), Red Cross and LAPA, an organisation which helps young
delinquents to reintegrate into the society (Ema-Prag243/1-HIGH), club of the owners of
German short-haired dogs (Kryštof-Prag7/2-HIGH), sport clubs (Tamara-Brat107/1-HIGH),
hippo therapy club (Lenka-Brat250/1-HIGH) Slovak debate association (Martin-Brat481/2-
LOW), Greenpeace and Association for Protection of Birds in Slovakia (Edo-Brat122/1-

Noone is a member of any political party, only two participants from Bratislava sympathised
(“young democrats”, Paťo-Brat174/1-HIGH) or sympathise with a political party.
       “There [political party SMER5] are young people here who have not experienced that
       communism, that is they are not contaminated by it so much, (...) for example I like that they
       preserved their opinions (...) at least in this Iraq conflict, they did not join the side of, hm, the Brits
       and America... (…) but I would not like to join that party because I do not know whether I would
       enjoy being in the politics.” Naďa-Brat262/1-HIGH

The civic participation can take place without formal membership in an organisation.

       “I am not in any organization. But I think that I am a chronic complainer about various things.
       (2s) (...) I write letters, or e-mails or. (...) I recently wrote a letter to the Ministry of Foreign
       Affairs because I am upset by how the US Embassy behaves towards us, with granting American
       visa, that really irritated me ... Anna-Prag10/1-HIGH (610)

1.8 Local citizenship involvement
If there was any problem in their neighbourhood (ecological, etc.) or if their favourite places
in the city they live in were under threat, the great majority both from Bratislava and Prague
would sign a petition, but only few can imagine starting an initiative themselves (Romana-
Brat337/2-HIGH, Kryštof-Prag7/2-HIGH; Ruzena-Prag235/1-LOW; Ludmila-Prag170/1-
HIGH; Jirina-Prag-HIGH).
       “I would sign if I was really convinced that it is right to do so and if I would be personally
       concerned by the issue.” Ema-Prag243/1-HIGH

Voices sceptical about the impact of a petition argue that the power is in hands of those who
have money (David-Brat516/2-HIGH; Maroš-Brat112/1-LOW).

    Populist center-left, currently in the parliamentary opposition.

   “Well, then, I think I would not be able to do much about it, because if someone wants to build up
   a little villa somewhere, well, then, the means how to build up the villa there will be found. (…)
   Well I am a realistic pessimist, like, simply, some things in my opinion cannot be influenced and
   the one who has got the money will find a way to do it. And a normal ordinary person would like
   simply never win such lawsuit.” (109) David-Brat516/2-HIGH

Some stress than and individual cannot change much and you need a group to achieve
something (Maria-Brat268/1-HIGH; Ruzena-Prag235/1-LOW, Kamila-Prag452/2-HIGH).
Others explicitly acknowledge they would do nothing, because “my participation would not
change anything” (Eva-Prag206/1-HIGH) or they see “no sense” in signing a petition
   “I would not do anything, to be honest. I would rather try to find some information about what is
   going on and than just swear.” Alice-Prag355/2(101), Karol-Brat273/1-LOW

Only a minority has already had the experience of organizing something or being actively
involved in another sort of civic participation: e. g. organising a demonstration against car
traffic in the city (Matěj-Prag407/2), cleaning his/her neighbourhood (Rado-Brat521/2-HIGH
Paťo-Brat174/1-HIGH), writing protest e-mails or letters to the municipality or to various
institutions (Paťo-Brat174/1; Anna-Prag10/1-HIGH), etc.

2.1 What the quantitative data say
In the quantitative part of our research, we intended to learn about the perception of
immigrants and immigration. We asked the participants: ‘In your opinion, should the
following groups of people be accepted into Slovakia without any restrictions, be accepted
with certain restrictions or not be accepted?’ The categories of immigrants that would be
accepted without restrictions by respondents from Bratislava and Prague were:

    1. Mainly EU citizens (45 - 60,9%)6;
    2. People seeking political asylum regardless of where they come from (40,5% -53,9%);
    3. People from European but non-EU countries who wish to work in the Czech/Slovak
        Republic’ (12,9 -21,5%);
    4. People from non-European countries who wish to work in the Czech/Slovak Republic’
        (10 - 18,4%).

A small number of items touched on racism and xenophobia by exploring the extent to which
interviewees support a vision of cultural and national homogeneity. Overall, only from 7,9 to
32,7% of respondents from both cities respectively agreed with statements defending ethnic
and cultural homogeneity. Paradoxically, although around 30% of Slovak random sample
respondents agreed with both statements concerning ethnic and cultural homogeneity, 30%
also agreed with the statement proposing ethnic and cultural diversity; this may well be an
indicator of a "naïve" xenophobia characterised by a week and vulnerable opinion.

2.2 Perception of immigration to Slovakia/Czech republic
In participants from both cities, the word “immigrant”7 is associated mainly with asylum
seekers and people coming from the East, an immigrant being “someone who was chased
from his/her country by something” (Ludmila-Prag170/1-HIGH). Both countries are
perceived as only “transit countries”, the majority of immigrants still moving further west

  In brackets is the range of percentages of those, who would accept the particular category of immigrants
without restrictions.
  Slovak legislation distinguishes between “azylanti” (asylants, refugees granted a political asylum) who were
politically persecuted in their country and “odídenci” - temporary immigrants who were given a shelter by the
Slovak government because of a war conflict in their country, because of a humanitarian catastrophe, etc. A third
group form people who were granted a temporary residence permit according to “special programs” (scientits,
students, artists, etc.) The fourth group is that of citizens of the European Economic Area.The third and the
fourth group can overlap. The procedure of granting the residence permit is different for each of these four
groups (laws N° 480/2002 and 606/2003). See Annex for statistics for 2003 in CR and Slovakia.

(Paťo-Brat174/1-HIGH Rado-Brat521/2-HIGH Ema-Prag243/1-HIGH, Alice-Prag355/2-
HIGH). The participants have not a clear-cut idea about whether the integration of Czech and
Slovak republics into the EU will change this pattern of immigration. If there is any change, it
is not expected to be a dramatic one: we will probably become target countries for particular
groups of immigrants (less wealthy) and also some Czechs and Slovaks will take the
opportunity of working in the Western Europe.

In general, immigration is not an issue that is of big concern for the participants; only few of
them have had any personal contact with the immigrants. Thus, their views on immigration
are shaped mainly by the media and often rely solely on stereotypes, which are widespread
and “active” in Czech and Slovak societies.

With respect to the perception of immigrants, there are two main general differences
between the participants from Bratislava and Prague: (1) the Prague participants seem to
be more willing to unconditionally accept the immigrants coming to their country than the
Bratislava participants; (2) in Bratislava but not in Prague speaking about immigration is often
associated with ethnic minority issues, e. g. the Roma. In the text that follows, the data will be
presented according to the following categories of answers: unconditioned acceptation of
immigrants, conditional acceptation of immigrants, adaptation of immigrants to the life in the
Czech republic/Slovakia and eventual restrictions to the immigration. Perception of Roma in
Slovakia will be also mentioned. Finally, the perception of national heterogeneity in
Bratislava and Prague and attitudes towards having a partner of different nationality will be

2.2.1 Unconditioned acceptation of immigrants
In Prague the arguments for the unconditioned acceptation of immigrants concentrate around
the following reasons: empathy with the immigrants (Matej-Prag407/2-HIGH); being human
Simona-Prag 58/1-LOW); Czech experience with immigration during the communist regime
(Jiri-Prag12/2-LOW); criticism of the administrative obstacles the Czech state sets to the
immigrants (Alice-Prag355/2-HIGH; Dita-Prag387/1-HIGH; Anna-Prag10/1-HIGH)
perception of the mobility of people as a normal phenomenon (Katerina-Prag346/2-HIGH);
perception of the immigration as an indicator of the economic welfare of the country (Milan-
Prag455/1-HIGH); usefulness of the immigrants for the country (Pavla-Prag-LOW);

demographic decline of the Czech population (Anna-Prag10/1-HIGH) and the small number
of immigrants coming to the country (Alice-Prag355/2-HIGH; Ema-Prag243/1-HIGH).
   “Immigration is normal because everybody is moving somewhere”. She has no contact with
   immigrants to the CR, except for Ukrainian workers to whom her boyfriend rents his flat: “They
   are very industrious and they are doing their best to earn some money, and then they go back
   home to their wives and children. I admire them, they are working really hard... it is not easy.”

In Bratislava, the arguments in favour of unconditioned acceptance of immigrants
concentrate around the immigrants being “enrichment” for the country (Monika-Brat513/2-
HIGH) and around the ”moral reasons”, such as experience with immigration during the
communism (Karolina-Brat349/2-HIGH) and the fact that also Slovaks move to the West
(Fero-Brat110/1-LOW; Pavol-Brat340/2-LOW).

2.2.2 Conditional acceptation of immigrants
The arguments for conditional acceptation of immigrants overlap in both cities. In general,
their country of origin is less important than the reason of their coming to the Czech
republic/Slovakia. Usually, it is required that the immigrants come legally, work here, and
abide by the laws of the country; these criteria are often mentioned simultaneously (7
   ”If they live and work normally, respect laws and do their duties then I do not care. But I
   disapprove of foreigners making illegal business…” Maria-Brat 268/1-HIGH(782)

Some also mention that the immigrants should adapt, the word adaptation being used almost
as a synonym of assimilation.
   “They should adapt to the country, and not try to adapt the country to themselves.” Milan-

   “I’m not against the fact that someone wants to move here, but s/he should realise one important
   thing - in a great extent s/he stops being let’s say an Iranian and becomes a Czech. S/he should
   realise there here we have different rules than in Iran, we are not a theocracy but a democracy,
   and if s/he want to live here, s/he must respect these rules, otherwise s/he has nothing to do here.”

   “If I moved to another country, I would try to adapt to the majority, to the state, because I would
   be happy that they let me come in, I should sacrify something and adapt.” Ruzena-Prag235/1-

Speaking the official language of the country is endorsed as important for one Slovak
participant, pointing out not the asylum seekers, but members of ethnic minorities bred and
born in Slovakia, mainly Hungarians.

      She is not bothered by the asylum seekers, but by the fact that some people in Slovakia –
      Hungarians – did not learn Slovak yet and when she comes to a village in the South, everything
      (the names of the streets, shops…) is written in Hungarian. But says she has nothing against the
      Hungarians, because she has Hungarian relatives. Lenka-Brat250/1-HIGH(312)

The relation of some towards the immigrants is even more ambiguous, irrational fears being
intermingled with the rational evaluation of the situation.
      “If the immigration is legal, I don’t mind it. If it is not, I do mind. But although I regret the work
      migrants coming from the countries where it is bad or where they cannot find a job, I know that it
      is a cheap labour force for us and they are taking away the jobs from our people.” Kamila-
      Prag452/2-HIGH (745)

      “To be honest, emotionally one does not really like seeing thousands of immigrants; everybody is
      scared of them subconsciously. But, on the other hand, everybody has the right to move and,
      rationally, I’m trying to repress this fear and aversion. I don’t think we should close ourselves, but
      the immigration should be somehow limited, because if not, it is good neither for immigrants nor
      for the country.” Tomáš-Prag368/2-HIGH (638)

In some cases it is also linked to the total lack of orientation in these issues and total lack of
cognitive elaboration of the complexity of the immigration issue, being labelled afore as
“naïve xenophobia”.
      “The immigrants can come here, but they should adapt, they cannot expect to have the same rights
      than in their country (447).” She plans volunteering in an association working with asylum
      seekers in summer. She cannot imagine “negative immigrants”, she imagines the mothers with
      their children and says they are welcome (459). Lenka-Brat250/1-HIGH

With the conditional acceptation of immigrants, closely tight are the restrictions that our
participants would place upon immigration to their respective countries.8 In both cities,
frequent is a more or less full acceptation of political immigrants, e.g. refugees for whom
leaving their country of origin was “a question of life and death“, accompanied by reserved
attitudes towards economic migrants whose motivation is just to earn money.
           “However a sort of filter is necessary, because this country is not a rubber balloon and if
           there was no filter, people who don’t really need to immigrate would flow in here and there
           would be no room left for people who really need it.” He speaks about people whose life is
           threatened in their countries (refugees) and purely economic immigrants, but acknowledges
           that without the latter the Czech economy would not work. Matej-Prag407/2-HIGH(649)

Possible fears of the economically (but also politically) motivated immigration are the growth
of (1) unemployment and (2) criminality.
           “There are people coming to our country, and surely, it is necessary to help them, but it is
           questionable, because some people also make problems, and I don’t say that all of them, but a

    They were asked directly about the restrictions.

       lot of them are becoming criminal elements ... and also the people living in these villages or
       towns who build these refugee camps – it is not easy for them ... we have not enough jobs for
       our people. (...) Well, morally, it is necessary to help them, they are poor refugees ... but we
       have a lot of such poor people in Slovakia and don’t know what to do with them...“ (756)

Furthermore, few express their fear of possible (3) exotic diseases.
   “Well, for sure, yes, otherwise ... they have different diseases there that don’t occur here (...) but
   we should then have, like, refugee camps on such a high level to be able to perfectly diagnose
   them, and, say, separate them and cure them, and then these people would not spread diseases
   among regular citizens. On the other hand, we don’t have enough finance, that is why there are no
   suitable conditions for it and that is a chain reaction.” Romana-Brat337/2-HIGH

Finally, those immigrants who have a criminal record should not be accepted, this reason
being stressed mainly by the Prague participants (Arnost-Prag58/1-LOW, Dita-Prag387/1-
HIGH; Vit-Prag271/1-HIGH and Romana-Brat337/2-HIGH).

2.2.3 Differences in adaptation of immigrants to the life of the country
As already mentioned, the idea that immigrants should adapt to the life of the country was one
of the requirements for the conditional acceptation of immigrants. Of course, the success of
this process depends on whether the local people are ready to accept them or not. It is
generally acknowledged both by Bratislava and Prague participants, that people having a
different colour of skin (mainly from Africa, but also from Asia) have a more difficult
situation in our countries than “white” people. The main reason proposed is, that we (Czechs
and Slovaks) are not yet accustomed to ethnic diversity.
   “I think that Arabs are a priori seen in a more negative way, we do not accept them with open
   arms. But it is due to the fact that the society here is relatively homogeneous, there are few people
   of different colour here, we are not used to it. We must start getting used to it. (…) When I came
   back from Paris where everything is just mixed up, I realised that people here are totally
   homogeneous.” Alice-Prag355/2(694)

   “Slovaks, I say, they do feel these differences; whether we are talking about people from Asia or
   from Africa. (…) For sure, it is more difficult for them than, for example, for some Germans or
   French. (...) Simply, Slovaks... don’t have experience with them, don’t know them, and don’t trust
   them. If a black person or, say, an Asian would come to France, then, in my opinion, they would
   have no problems there. The people are accustomed to it...“ (654) Peter-Brat266/1-LOW

Others say that educated people and people who speak foreign languages (Dita-Prag387/1-
HIGH; Fero-Brat110/1-LOW) have bigger chances to adapt to the life in the country and to
find a job than people with lower or no education and poor language skills. It is also
suggested that the status in the country of origin might play a role.

        “Well, it depends mainly on their socio-economic status in the country of origin. If someone is
        an entrepreneur in Romania, he will continue being an entrepreneur here...”Ondrej-

Some even think, that the immigrants do not try to adapt because they form closed
communities, meaning the Vietnamese and Chinese, but this fact is not necessarily considered
to be a negative phenomenon (Kryštof).
        ”Well, I think that these refugees, if they come to our country, they try to keep themselves
        flocked together in their own community, because they feel safer so, and [as they don’t speak
        Slovak] in this way they will indeed be in a safe place, yet their community will stay isolated,
        because they are not able to communicate effectively with the natives.” (555) Romana-

        “Well, I think that it is little different, that, say, … it is known… that the people coming from
        Asia, say, particularly Vietnamese and Chinese, who have significant communities here, that
        they really create their own, own structures, as if autonomous… And they actually do not
        integrate and they, the communities, live for themselves. Um… say the Ukrainians, they are
        not so many. And therefore, if you take political immigrants, or, say, Volynian Czechs [ethnic
        Czechs living in Ukraine] coming from Ukraine, actually as foreigners, who learn Czech
        again, although they have Czech ancestors. I think they will completely integrate. (…) And
        then, if some people do not integrate and they live in a particular community, say, the Chinese
        community, for themselves, I wouldn’t see it primarily as a problem” Kryštof-Prag7/2-

2.3 Roma
In the context of the economic migration, the Slovak participants have repeatedly mentioned
the massive leaving of Slovak Roma to Western Europe at the end of 1990´s. Although there
was a similar emigration (perhaps less massive) from the Czech Republic, our Prague
participants do not mention it at all, presumably due to absence of significant negative
consequences for the Czech republic.9 The following quotation embodies both a reflection
about the reasons of the xenophobia (loss of jobs); the distinction between political and
economic immigrants as well as criticism of the migration of Slovak Roma mentioned above.

  This massive emigration of Roma led many European countries (e.g. the UK, Belgium, Norway) to impose a
visa duty upon Slovaks, in some cases temporary, in others long-term (e. g. the UK abolished it only in
December 2003). The consequences for the Czech Republic were not that harsh. It is important to mention, that
the Roma presented this emigration as exclusively politically motivated, because of the racial discrimination in
Slovakia/Czech republic. However, the true motivation was the economic one. Many Roma, poor, with low
qualification, unemployed, sold their poor houses and all their possessions in order to pay the plane ticket to go
to the UK or to Belgium, where they hoped to take benefits from the local asylum policy. In that period, the
subsidies given to the asylum seekers in some Western European countries were quite interesting (as compared
to the sum they would have as unemployment benefits in Slovakia). As a result of this migration flow, some
Western European countries decided to make their asylum policy harsher and less economically “profitable”.
This migration was most probably organised by “bosses” from within the Roma community. Many of the Roma
who left abroad had to be escorted back to their country on the expense of the Slovak and Czech governments
(as they sold everything and had money only to pay one-way ticket for the whole family), because they were not
granted the status of the asylum seeker in the country of destination.

       ”Some people have a natural fear of foreigners (...) and are afraid because of their own work
       opportunities... (...) Nevertheless, the whole America, for instance, was built up upon this
       principle that people actually came there... For example, the parents of people I got to know
       there, they came there from Asia; they can’t even speak English well (...) but their children
       were actually born there, they study at American universities and they, thanks to their parents
       (…) will become Americans, they will have totally different opportunities. This is actually
       positive, what America does. Well, actually, it is not meant to be a present given to them, but
       ... it is necessary to help such people who, for example, flee from Iraq or who are politically
       persecuted at home. But I don’t like what Romas do. Economic migration, I mean. Even
       though some of them surely have bad conditions in Slovakia, but they actually cause problems
       to all Slovaks then.” Andrej-Brat515/2-HIGH(578-590)

The following young man  educated, studying languages, having experience of other
countries and having a Spanish girl friend living currently in Netherlands , openly
acknowledges and rationally reflects his prejudice against the Roma minority. He also
describes the stereotypes and prejudices that exist in the Slovak society about the immigrants
coming from Western Europe and Asia.
       “I have quite big prejudice against Romas... so far, nobody has convinced me that ... I don’t
       know whether it is a race or national minority... that it would get somewhat civilised; well,
       Romas are not coming to Slovakia now, they are here, but there is a difference (...) when some
       inhabitant of the Western country comes to Slovakia, it is usually to work in diplomatic
       services or to start a business, so maybe we have such an idea in our heads that when
       Westerners come here they come with good intent... and that when some ‘weird, dubitable
       people’ from... Asian countries, so it is hard to say whether it is always true... or even some
       people form the West may come and do bad things here, hmm...” Rado-Brat521/2-HIGH(705)

This view reflects among other the long-term inability of Slovak policy-makers to cope with
the situation of Roma national minority in Slovakia. Partly this is a heritage of communist
times, when the Roma were forced to assimilate and this was pursued e.g. through the official
interdiction of the nomadic way of living. After 1989, the situation did not really improve,
and the large majority of them are unemployed, living in very poor conditions, being socially
excluded. However, a great deal of responsibility must be attributed to the Roma community
itself, which has not been able to organise, is extremely fragmented and has not formed a
political representation that would assert Roma rights at the state level. In 1998, the Slovak
government has appointed a special officer responsible for the “Roma issue” (a person of
Roma ethnic origin) in order to help the community to solve the situation.

2.4 Attitudes towards national and ethnic heterogeneity in studied cities
Our participants were also asked, whether their cities are equally good places for Czechs/
Slovaks and people of other nationalities. As for the differences in adaptation of immigrants
mentioned above in Bratislava, many participants consider that people of colour have a more

difficult life in the city, the main argument being that local people are not used to them
(Lenka-Brat250/1-HIGH, Maria-Brat 268/1, Rado-Brat521/2-HIGH, etc). However, many
add that it is still better in the capital than in other Slovak cities.
           “There is some racism here, more or less I would say, some black or Chinese or simply
           foreigners, who don’t fit into the average… they don’t have a good life here.” David-

To explain and excuse Slovak xenophobia, the following participant mentions Slovaks´
historical experience of oppression. 10
      “Well same as any other nation, Slovaks are very touchy when, um, different cultures come here,
      maybe also because, in history they were often occupied, for example Slovaks are very unfriendly
      towards the Hungarians (…) and also Romas have it difficult here, um skinheads, but this is the
      same anywhere else.” (61) Naďa-Brat262/1-HIGH

Usually, those who criticize racist attitudes of their fellow citizens detach themselves more or
less explicitly from the racism:
           “There are some people, who are racists, generally you can say it this way…and these
           attack…I personally see myself as a person, who is not a racist. I use to say, good people are
           everywhere, same as bad people and it depends where you meet a particular person and what
           kind of person it is. Although I am not racist, I am reserved towards some particular
           nationalities, but generally, when I meet such a person, I wait how he behaves… And I say
           that this is a normal person.” Nina-Brat227/1-HIGH(48)

In Prague, the difference is made between on the one hand “rich foreigners” (from Western
Europe and the USA), which have no difficulties in Prague and on the other hand the “poor
foreigners” (Ukrainians), which are a cheap labour force. Under the category of poor fall also
the Roma minority members living in the city. Unlike in Bratislava, in Prague the Roma issue
becomes salient solely in the local context.
      “This is a problem. It is probably better than elsewhere in the country, but xenophobia here is
      still quite strong (…) I live in a Romany housing estate, and I know there are many problems,
      people are shouting at them, they insult them without any reason.” Anna-Prag10/1(24-28)

2.5 Having a partner of different nationality
Some stress that the mutual understanding of the partners is more important than their
           “As long as the two people understand each other, I don’t see any problem then.” He has a
           Spanish girlfriend currently living in the Netherlands. Rado-Brat521/2-HIGH(846)

Despite of this, the idea of having a partner of another nationality implies many “buts” in both
cities. First, the linguistic barrier could be an obstacle. Second, some would not accept a

     The myth of 1000 years of oppression of Slovaks has been the favourite topic of the Slovak nationalist parties.

partner with a different colour of skin, but at the same time they do not forget to stress they
are not racist.
    “The only thing I would mind is to have a girlfriend of black skin or, I would say, yellow skin.“
    (...) ”Sometimes, boys talk in this way, how beautiful the black girls are; well, yeah, I don’t say
    they are not pretty, but I couldn’t live with such a woman just because… I’m not a racist, but
    because she is black.” Maroš-Brat112/1-LOW(606)

The following participant justifies his reserved attitude towards a partner of different colour
by the prejudice and discrimination that are present in the society as a whole and might be
dangerous for the children.
    “Well, I don’t know… (5 sec) it’s not that I would somewhat discriminate her on the race basis,
    but there would be a problem with children then anyway...” Children are discriminated at school.

And, finally, incompatibility of values, way of thinking, lifestyles and of expectations from
life are mentioned. Many of these aspects are embedded in the following quotation:
    “I could not be with someone from another country, because I experienced it and it does not work.
    It was not about the language barrier… but such a person thinks differently, has a different
    mentality, and one of the two must adapt… and I cannot adapt to his. (…) And I don’t want this to
    sound racist; I could not imagine having a partner with different colour of skin. (…) Since your
    birth you have got used to live among certain people and you are used to these people, how they
    look like, how they behave...” Kamila-Prag452/2-HIGH(868)

As regards to concrete nationalities, in general, European nationalities are more accepted that
nationalities from other continents. Reserved attitude moderated by various stereotypes is
expressed in particular towards Arabs and Turks (different mentality, position of women in
Muslim societies), Americans (their lifestyle, behaviour), but also towards people from former
Yugoslavia (infidelity), Ukrainians (without explanation), Spaniards and people from the
South in general (too merry, not trustworthy) as well as Bulgarians (nomads); these
stereotypical representations being present mainly among female participants.


According to the quantitative part of our study, civic rather than ethnic criteria were preferred
as requirements for citizenship by the participants from both cities. The conceptualisations of
citizenship in the qualitative interviews go in the same direction. However, to a great extent,
the accent on the “civic” dimension of citizenship (such as abide by the laws, pay taxes etc.) is
driven by the distinct (different) meanings of the concepts “nationality” and “citizenship” in
our languages. In fact, in the macro discourse these are a priori defined as ethnic and civic

respectively and this separation is present also in the way our participants conceptualise
nationality and citizenship. However, the qualitative interview allowed us to grasp a much
wider range of these conceptualisations as compared to the questionnaire.

The survey results also suggested that, paradoxically, although the majority of the participants
agree that it matters what political party is in power, more than half of them think that they
have no influence over what the government is doing. This might indicate an internal conflict
concerning the attribution of causality in political context. The qualitative interviews suggest,
that voting is considered as one of the most efficient ways to influence the course of one’s
society. Moreover, it does not require much time and energy; it is relatively “painless” in
contrast to the participation in demonstrations and other active forms of civic participation.

In the quantitative survey, we found that the participants from Bratislava and Prague were
more willing to participate in parliamentary (national) and European elections than in the
local and regional elections. The qualitative interviews give us a partial explanation of this
fact: thanks to a huge campaign in media, some participants consider having more
information about the national politics than about the local politics and enables them to make
a better decision. Also, as the regional elections are relatively new in our countries, their
practical impact is not clear yet. On the other hand, many seem to have changed their mind
since the first interview (questionnaire) and claim they would participate in the elections at all
the levels. This may be either a consequence of the social desirability in the situation of face-
to-face interview; or a result of an attitude change due to the rapid processes of EU accession
and transformation during the recent months.

It has been mentioned above, that the social and political issues of most interest for our
participants were ‘job and training opportunities’ and ‘quality and content of education’ -
issues that are strongly relevant to the age group of our young participants. When asked in the
qualitative study about their willingness to participate in demonstrations, the majority would
demonstrate only for issues which are directly relevant to their everyday lives, for “big issues”
and issues bout which they are convinced. Apparently, these criteria did not apply for the war
in Iraq because it took place in a remote country and was accompanied by ambivalent
messages of propaganda from both sides of the conflict. However, neither the local issues,
which are less remote from the everyday lives, seem to inspire big motivation to be involved.

The most active form of civic participation at the local level would be signing a petition. Few
of our participants are members of any groups or organisations, be they of civic, religious or
leisure character.

When asked in the qualitative interview about their perception of immigration to their
countries, participants rarely expressed clear-cut opinions. Their perception of the few
immigrants coming to their countries is full of ambiguities. The ambiguity was present
already in the survey results, where about one third of Bratislava random sample agreed
simultaneously with the statements concerning ethnic and cultural homogeneity as well as
with the statements proposing ethnic and cultural diversity in their countries. We suggested
that this might be (due to a relatively low presence of immigration issues in everyday life) an
indicator of a “naïve” xenophobia characterised by a week and vulnerable opinion, susceptible
to change and to various influences. This may, however, rapidly change when the Czech and
Slovak Republics will become target countries for immigration.

In both Prague and Bratislava, immigration is associated mainly with the people coming from
Eastern Europe and from Asian countries. Although the Prague participants seem to be more
open towards the immigrants than their Bratislava peers, in both cities the conditional
acceptation of immigrants dominates upon the unconditioned one. Participants stressed
mainly the importance of the reason of immigration: political refugees being more accepted
than the economic ones. This goes in line with the quantitative results highlighting a gap
between the unconditioned acceptation of EU nationals and asylum seekers on the one had,
and the conditional acceptation (with certain restrictions) of the non-EU nationals and non-
Europeans on the other hand.

The quantitative data also showed that the discrimination against national minorities seems
to be of a lesser interest to young people than the education and career related issues. The
qualitative interviews suggest, and it is not surprising, that in Slovakia the national minority
issue (Roma) is much more salient than the immigration itself. While Slovak participants
evoke the Roma issue also when speaking about the economic migration at the international
level, the Czechs evoke it solely in the local context, when speaking about Roma
discrimination in Prague.

Racist attitudes oriented towards people of colour are criticised by young people from both
studied cities. However, the rejecting of people of a different race gradually increases with the
increasing closeness (different "social distance" of being a fellow citizen vs. being their
intimate partner), thus pointing to the psychological self-protecting tendency and fear of the

Moreover, it seems that the education level and the experience of other countries and
knowledge of languages do not influence the existence or non-existence of prejudice (e.g.
Rado, Romana), the only difference being that the higher educated participants are more ready
to rationally reflect their prejudiced attitudes than the lower educated ones. On the contrary,
education seems to be related to the conceptualisation of citizenship – awareness vs. non-
awareness of civic rights and duties.

               Asylum seekers in Slovak republic by nationality (2003 )
                             Asylum    Asylum    Demand    Asylum not    Procedure
             Nationality     seekers   granted   refused    granted     interrupted
    Afghanistan               627        3                    19           690
    Albania                                                                 1
    Algeria                    9                                            11
    Angola                     5                               5            2
    Armenia                   758                              5           400
    Azerbeyadjan               42                                           36
    Bangladesh                558                   2         68           974
    Benin                                1
    No nationality             17                              1            9
    Belarus                    20                              2            15
    Bosnia and Herzegovina     3         1                                  2
    Bulgaria                   12                   4          6            2
    Burkina Faso               1                                            1
    Burundi                    1         1
    Chad                                                                    2
    Czech republic             6                    1          5            1
    China                     1080                 42         35           1556
    Dominican republic         1
    Ethiopia                   1                                            1
    Gambia                     3                                            2
    Ghana                      3                    2          1            3
    Gruzia                    582                   1          9           338
    Guyana                     1                               1
    Guinea                     2                                            1
    India                     1653                 11         88           1671
    Iraq                      475        1                     1           657
    Iran                      182                              8           151
    Israel                     33                                           34
    Yemen                      2                               2
    Yugoslavia                 51                   2         16            25
    Yugoslavia (ex-)           14        1                     4            5
    Cameron                    2                               1            1
    Kazakhstan                 3                                            3
    Columbia                   1                                            1
    Congo                      5                               3            1
    Congo dem. rep.            2         2
    Cuba                       5                               2            4
    Lebanon                    31                              1            29
    Liberia                    13                                           8

       Lithuania                 1
       Latvia                    1                                                1
       Macedonia                14                      1            8            6
       Mauritius                 2                                                2
       Moldova                  587                     1           12           473
       Mongolia                  5                                   2            1
       Nepal                     5                                                11
       Unknown                  13                                                14
       Nigeria                  10                                   3            16
       Pakistan                 307         1           2           22           235
       Palestine                68                                   2            71
       Côte d´Ivoire             7                                                7
       Poland                    1                      1
       Romania                   3                                                3
       Russia                  2653                                 43           1869
       Senegal                  16                                   1            10
       Sierra Leone              3                                   2
       Slovakia (?)              3                                   3
       Somalia                  114                                              130
       Sri Lanka                49                                   8            82
       Sudan                    12                      1            2            11
       Syria                    72                                                34
       Tajikistan                2                                                2
       Togo                      4                                   4
       Tunisia                   2                                   1            2
       Turkey                   61                                                40
       Turkmenia                 1                                                3
       Ukraine                  73                      3           10            28
       Uzbekistan                4                                                3
       Vietnam                  61                                  14            97
       Zaire (former)                                                1
       Total                   10358       11           74         421           9788

(Source: Ministry of Interior of the Slovak republic)

Statistics for the Czech republic are available at the web page of the Ministry of Interior of the
Czech Republic: By the January 31 2004, the number of all foreigners
(asylum seekers + other types of foreigners) granted the visa/residence permit for 90 days
was: 54 060 in Prague, 163 501 in the Czech republic as a whole. As the statistics for the
Czech republic and Slovakia are based on different numbers, they are difficult to compare, but
anyway the number of immigrants to the Czech republic exceeds that to Slovakia.


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