Gašparovič, Ivan (Slovakia)
Shortly before Slovakia became a member of the European Union on 1 May 2004, a respected lawyer, Ivan Gašparovič, was elected as the country’s president. Instrumental in drawing up Slovakia’s constitution prior to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, he was also a close ally of the controversial nationalist former prime minister, Vladimír Mečiar, the man he beat in the second round of the presidential election. He was re-elected in April 2009.
Ivan Gašparovič was born in Poltár, near Lučenec in southern Slovakia on 27 March 1941. His father, Vladimír Gašparovič, had migrated to the region from Rijeka, Croatia at the end of the First World War. The family moved to Bratislava, where Vladimír worked as a teacher in a secondary school. Having studied at the Law Faculty of the Komenský University in Bratislava from 1959–64, Ivan Gašparovič worked in the district prosecutor’s office of Bratislava’s Martin district (1965–66), and then became a prosecutor at the...