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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Slovenia/ Slovakia confusion!

Both I know are separate nations, and never get them mixed up, but a lot of people world wide seem to. So how did this madness begin!

Well we have to travel back to the early 1990's (yes a period I am fond of I know), when most people were raving (esp in UK), Communism and the Soviet Union plus its influence was vanishing around Central and Eastern Europe! Story begins quietly in 1991 when Slovenia withdrew from collapsing Yugoslavia, managing to avoid the bloodshed of their former Yugoslav neighbours! No problems there, nothing to get worried about this new young Slovenia!

Then two years later the problems and confusion began when SHOCK HORROR the Slovaks took Slovakia out of the wonderful name Czechoslovakia! The names and flags (from a distance) are very similar. Yes they are Slavs, now EU members that have embraced the Euro. Plus both were part of the Austria-Hungary Empire. But that is where the simularity ends! Although their languages are Slavic they are as different as Germanic languages English and Dutch are (although to us Slovenes and Slovaks all sound the same. lol)! I can't really think of any massively notable Slovene sports stars (maybe winter sports), maybe tennis doubles speciallist Katrina Srebotnik.But Slovakia I can think of apart from Martina Hingis (although Kosice born grew up in Switzerland and both parents were not Slovaks), Miroslav Mecir 1988 Olympic Tennis Champion who never won a grand slam but one fan of his was surprisingly English World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson. Others include Daniela Hantuchova and Albions beloved goalkeeper Peter Brezovan plus a few other tennis professionals who I won't mention in order to prevent boredom!

At the 2010 World Cup there was some confusion indeed as both Slovenia and Slovakia appeared at the finals of a major football tournament together for the first time ever! This confusion has claimed a few victims around the world down the years, including GW Bush, Silvio Berlusconi ex Italian Prime Minister (despite Slovenia being neighbours of Italy) an ESPN commentator at this years world cup, and the Spanish Branch of Reuters. Finally according to an article written by a Slovene tourist weblog an unamed major European City that consistently wrongly addresses Slovak mail to the Slovenian embassy (guess we know where this is!) the list goes on and on


Plus despite the charming effects of the lady in this youtube video, I think this confusion will remain for a long time, unless they decide to merge and from a Union like the Social Democrats and Liberal Partys in the UK did in the 1980's although the nations are separated by about 400 kilometres, and the name would be difficult (Eg lets declare United Republics Of Sloveneoslovakia). They could take inspiration from an infamous old Spitting Image sketch of the Liberal/ Social Democrats merger a year before they merged! But then I would miss the rare occasions when Slovenia and Slovakia take on each other in sport as the 'Slov Derby' in football, similar to Austria VS Australia!


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