The International Club of Slovakia /ICS/ is a non-profit, politically neutral association. It was established in January 1993. In view of the upcoming integration of the Slovak Republic into the European Union, its original name International Club was extended to the International Club of Slovakia in 2003. The Club‘s registration at the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic was accordingly modified. The International Club of Slovakia is the longest existing discussion club in the Slovak Republic.
Education as the Club’s main task
The aim of ICS is to support development of international economic and other cooperation, membership of the Slovak Republic in the European Union, NATO and in other international structures and organizations, obtaining information about Slovak economy from competent Slovak government representatives, spreading knowledge about the newest global trends among club members and broadening their personal contacts. The main task of ICS lies in the education of club members through lectures and speeches of government representatives and experts in areas of the members‘ interest.
As it is stated in the Club Code its members /actually their representatives because membership in ICS applies to organizations, companies, institutions, etc./ respect the fact that the International Club of Slovakia is politically neutral and that internal disputes among political parties in Slovakia are not discussed at club sessions. Members are led to civilized and non-confrontational conduct at ICS sessions and its discussions in order to contribute to overall mutual tolerance and understanding.
In contrast to some clubs and associations, the International Club of Slovakia is adopting no resolutions at its sessions nor does it send any position papers or suggestions to the Slovak government, parliament , etc. However the club utilizes the „two way street“ approach at its sessions and allows its members to present their views, critical remarks and proposals in civilized form to members of the government or parliament present at club sessions as main guest speakers.
Voting on ICS program of activities as the expression of members´ interest
There is one clear distinction between ICS and other similar clubs and associations. It is its each November‘s written voting on the program of ICS activities. ICS Council first accumulates ideas and suggestions of different topics, than members vote on them and eight themes with the highest number of votes are firmly incorporated into the program of ICS activities for the following year. Thanks to this procedure the activities of the International Club of Slovakia are maximally in line with the desires of members, which contributes to membership stability. It is common in other clubs to organize their activities „ad hoc“, without previous knowledge or consent of the majority of members.
Specific activities of the Club
According to the yearly program adopted by members, ICS organizes working sessions with important representatives of the Slovak government, foreign dignitaries and experts, etc. on political and economic themes, excursions to the largest industrial plants and to other important venues as well as social and relaxation activities like balls, golf tournaments, etc.
From the beginning of 1993 ´till the end of 2007, which means in the first 15 years of its existence, the International Club of Slovakia had organized a total of 147 club gatherings. Their main themes were for example economic policy of the government, foreign trade, foreign policy, international finance, foreign investment in Slovakia, tourism, monetary policy of the National Bank of Slovakia, privatization, membership of Slovakia in the EU and NATO, globalization, life style of managers, etc., this number includes also 14 balls and 9 golf tournaments. Each ICS activity is accompanied by lunch or cocktail so members have many opportunities to meet each other and to increase the number of their personal contacts.
The International Club of Slovakia had also organized more than 40 seminars about etiquette and protocol, both for members and non-members of the club, as well as five exhibitions about Slovakia abroad, to be specific in the United States of America, Mexico, Italy, Argentine and Portugal. In the whole period of the years 1993 – 2007 activity of ICS was never interrupted, which is the best testimony and proof of its organizational stability.
Many well-known personalities delivered speeches at ICS sessions
Everybody who knows the Slovak political scene is familiar with the names and functions of these V.I.P. speakers, mostly in the rank of presidents or vice-presidents of the parliament, deputy prime ministers, ministers, members of the European Parliament, state secretaries and NBS governors. Among them were, for example, V. Klaus, V. Veteška, J. Kubiš, Ľ. Jahnátek, Ľ. Vážny, J. Figeľ, I. Šramko, S. Kozlík, M. Flašíková-Beňová, P. Hrušovský, I. Mikloš, E. Kukan, P. Csáky, L. Gyurovszky, P. Rusko, Ľ. Kaník, R. Nemcsics, I. Korčok, R. Káčer, V. Podstránky, J. Brocka, Ľ. Fogaš, M. Kadlečíková, L. Vtáčnik, B. Schmognerová, Ľ. Černák, M. Machová, M. Jusko, P. Hamžík, E. Kohútiková, V. Masár, J. Brhel, I. Sitek, P. Brňo, J. Šesták, E. Sičáková-Beblavá, J. Spišiak, P. Staněk, Š. Luby, representatives of EU, NATO, IMF, EBRD, EIB, etc.
Venues of Club Meetings
Mostly the venues were exclusive locations in Bratislava, such as the Mirror hall of the Primatial Palace, the Constitutional Hall at Bratislava Castle, Reduta, Moyzes’ Hall, Congress Hall of the Slovak Parliament, Hotel Carlton, Hotel Bôrik, Hotel Devín, Hotel Holiday Inn; outside of Bratislava it was for example Reduta in Poprad, Officer’s Pavilion in Komárno, The Black Eagle Hall in Prešov, Reduta in Lučenec, Hotel Grand in Starý Smokovec, Castle Smolenice, Castle Topoľčianky, Thermia Palace in Piešťany, Municipal theatre in Levoča, Kursalón in Piešťany, Hotel Kaskády near Sliač, etc.
Matchless Difference of ICS Activities from those of Other Clubs
From the members’ contributions the Club has organised numerous excursions, social, educational or relaxation activities, such as the balls in Trenčianske Teplice, Bratislava and Piešťany, golf tournaments in Bernolákovo and Piešťany, boat excursions on the Danube with a visit to the Gabčíkovo Dam, excursions in the Volkswagen plant, shipbuilding yard Komárno, Alcatel and KIA Motors plants, visits to the Tatry National Park Reserve museum in Tatranská Lomnica, fashion shows for Club members in Piešťany, Spišská Nová Ves and Liptovský Ján, sightseeing flights over Nitra, visit to open-air museums in Pribilina and Bardejovské spa, excursion of the ice cave Sloboda in Demänovské valley, visit to international exhibits of regional arts in Bratislava, visit to Bratislava stock market, excursion of the historical centre of Bardejov, visit to the exhibit Fulla 2002, garden parties in Častá- Papiernička and Piešťany, three performances of the famous folklore dance group SĽUK, excursions of industrial parks in Kechnec and Vráble, visit to a performance in the State Theatre in Košice, excursion of the European Plaza in Komárno, visit to the golf grounds Šedý medveď in Tále, visit to the Novohradské museum in Lučenec, walk around mountain lake Štrbské Pleso, excursion to the St. Jakub Church to see the famous wooden altar of Master Paul in Levoča, etc., etc.
The Club members are business and non-commercial entities, i.e. joint-stock companies, limited companies, state companies and organisations, financial institutions, representatives of foreign companies and organisations, travel agencies, airlines, research institutes, administrative entities such as regions, towns or municipalities, cultural institutions and agencies etc. Membership in the Club is voluntary. As of December 31st, 2007 the International Club of Slovakia had 142 registered members.
Financing of Club Activities
The Club’s financial income consists mostly of membership fees /90%/. Approximately 10% income is from the Club’s economic activities, such as contributions from non-members for taking part in events, seminars on etiquette and protocol for non-members, fees for presentations at Club events and the like. In order to preserve its independence the Club does not accept any financial contributions from foreign foundations or other organisations, or contributions from Slovak government bodies and institutions. Every year the Club’s financial balance must not show any loss, sufficient financial reserves must be available as no bank loans are allowed. The monitoring of the Club’s budget and activities in accordance with the agreed program is one of the main tasks of both the Club Chairman and its Council.