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Velvet Revolution

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Non-violence separatism case study – The Velvet Revolution

* The Velvet Revolution or Gentle Revolution was a non-violent transition of power in what was then Czechoslovakia. * The period of upheaval and transition took place from 16th November to 29th December 1989. * Popular demonstrations against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia combined students and older dissidents. * The final result was the end of 41 years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, and the subsequent conversion to a parliamentary republic.

Timeline * On 16th November 1989, Slovak middle school and university students organized a peaceful demonstration in the center of Bratislava. * The next day, International Students' Day, riot police suppressed a large student demonstration in Prague. That event sparked a series of demonstrations from 19th November to late December. * After the number of protesters grew to an unprecedented half a million and 75 percent of the country’s entire population went on a two-hour general strike, the Communist leadership stepped down. * Two weeks after that, the first non-Communist government was sworn in and a dissident leader, the playwright Vaclav Havel, was made president just in time for New Years 1990. * Remarkably, no one was killed; especially considering Warsaw Pact nations had invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress a popular reform movement just 21 years before. * Four years later the country split, also peacefully, into the Czech and Slovak republics.

It was called the velvet revolution as it was a bloodless revolution, and because of its peacefulness it was named “velvet” as the revolution was as smooth as this material.

Velvet divorce

* The Velvet Divorce is the name given to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into two separate countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which went into effect on 1 January 1993. The name Velvet Divorce references the Velvet Revolution of 1989, which led to the end of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. * Velvet in both instances points to the peacefulness of the events, in contrast to the violent revolutions and secessions elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. Throughout its history, Czechoslovakia had suffered from a cultural clash between the Czech and Slovak populations, and the Velvet Divorce was a peaceful transition into two independent countries. * Czechoslovakia was established in 1918 after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. While the Czechs and Slovaks had much in common, such as a similar language and a history of oppression — the Czechs under the Austrians and the Slovaks under the Hungarians — they also had significant cultural and economic differences. Nevertheless, they voluntarily united as a single country. * Czechoslovakia became occupied by the Soviet Union following World War II. Initially, it was two separate territories — the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic — but the two were later united into the Czechoslovakian Socialist Republic. The Velvet Revolution ended communism in Czechoslovakia, and in June 1990, democratic elections were held in that country for the first time in over 40 years. * After Czechoslovakia became capitalist, problems between the two main populations in the country began to surface. In the Czech lands, gross domestic product (GDP) was 20% higher per capita than in Slovakia, though its long-term growth was slower. Under communism, Czech money had regularly been transferred to Slovakia, but in 1991, this practice ended. * Though the Velvet Divorce did not have widespread public support, politicians successfully negotiated the split. Both Czechs and Slovaks were divided on the issue, though Slovaks showed slightly more support. Some advocated a loose association rather than a complete break. The Velvet Divorce became official with the 1992 Declaration of Independence of the Slovak Nation. After its passage on 17 July, politicians continued to negotiate a smooth dissolution. * The Velvet Divorce was one of the most peaceful changes in political borders in the aftermath of Soviet Communism. Though the Czech Republic and Slovakia still had some kinks to work out after the Velvet Divorce, including the division of former federal property, they remained on peaceful terms with each other throughout. Both countries became members of the European Union in 2004.…...

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