Childhood & Early Life
Ivan Gašparovič was born on 27 March 1941, to Roman Catholic parents, in the town of Poltár, in the south-central Banská Bystrica Region of Slovakia, just south of the Tatra mountain range. At the time of Gašparovič’s birth, Poltár belonged to the first Slovak Republic.
His father, Vladimir Gašparovič was a secondary schoolteacher and headmaster. He was an immigrant from Rijeka, Croatia, who moved to Czechoslovakia at the end of the Second World War.
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In 1959, Gašparovič moved from Poltár to the capital city of Bratislava to pursue a degree in Law at Comenius University, Slovakia’s foremost university; he finished his degree in 1964.
Upon completion of his studies, Gašparovič worked in the Martin District Prosecutor’s Office and at the Bratislava Municipal Prosecutor’s Office.
In 1968, he was briefly a member of the Communist Party of Slovakia, supporting the reforms of Alexander Dubček. By August of the same year, following the Warsaw Pact invasion, the party expelled Gašparovič.
Between 1968 and 1990, Gašparovič taught law at his alma mater, Comenius University. He was a Law Faculty at the Department of Criminal Law, Criminology and Criminiological Practice.
In February 1990, Gašparovič was made the deputy vice-chancellor (also known as “prorector”) of Comenius University.
In 1990, following the Velvet Revolution and the democratic election of president Václav Havel, Havel asked Gašparovič to serve as the federal Prosecutor-General for Slovakia.
In 1992, Gašparovič briefly served as the Vice-President to Czechoslovakia’s Legislative Council.
Upon Czechoslovakia’s split into two the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Gašparovič returned to his post at Comenius University Law Faculty, serving on two of the university’s Scientific Councils.
In 1992, Gašparovič became part of the HZDS or Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (‘Hnutie za demokraticke Slovensko’), under the leadership of Vladimir Mečiar. Upon the HZDS wins in the June 1992 elections, Gašparovič became the Speaker of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. In the same year, Gašparovič lead a commission to investigate a scandal involving hidden microphones found in the U.S. Consulate in Bratislava.
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In late 1992, Gašparovič also helped to draft the Constitution of Slovakia for the newly formed state.
Between 1998 and 2002, Gašparovič served on the parliamentary Committee for the Supervision of the SIS (Slovak Intelligence Service) as well as a member of the Slovak parliamentary delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
In July 2002, due to internal disputes and differences of opinion with Vladimir Mečiar, Gašparovič left the HZDS and founded a new party together with several other prominent members of Parliament, which they called the HZD or Movement for Democracy (‘Hnutie za demokraciu’).
In 2004, Gašparovič ran for presidency against Mečiar and Eduard Kukan, and although he was considered the least likely contender, he was elected to office.
Throughout his presidency, between 2004 and 2014, Gašparovič gradually gained increasing popularity, despite his unapologetic stance regarding his (unpopular) former role in Mečiar’s presidency.
In 2011, Gašparovič was involved in controversy surrounding the erection of a statue of Janos Esterhazy, which Gašparovič opposed due to Esterhazy’s alleged associations with Nazism and fascist movements.
In July 2013, Gašparovič drew criticism for failing to name a new attorney general into function, despite the candidate being elected by the Slovak parliament.
He was one of the authors of the Constitution of Slovakia
In 2006, Gašparovič penned his first autobiographical work, entitled ‘I Think Nationally, Feel Socially’.
In 2009, Gašparovič wrote two books: ‘A Dignified Life for All’ and ‘About Us: Slovakia, Europe, Earth’, publishing the latter in both English and German through the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Awards & Achievements
In 2005, Gašparovič was granted Lithuania’s Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great and Estonia’s Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana.
In 2007, Gašparovič received Knight Grand Cross honors from Italy, Netherlands and Spain.
In 2008, Croatia recognized Gašparovič’s contributions to friendship and cooperation between Slovakia and Croatia with the Grand Order of King Tomislav.
Within Slovakia, Gašparovič has been appointed to three honorary Orders and has received two honorary Crosses and Double Crosses.