The Transformation of the Slovak Academy of Sciences after 1989

The efforts to establish a Slovak Learned Society go back to the eighteenth century, when the distinguished scholar and polyhistor Matej Bel attempted to found such an organization. Additional attempts continued throughout the nineteenth century, until finally the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Arts came into being in 1942. This Academy was an institution with research institutes and scientific establishments as well as a learned society. The Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS), established in 1953, continues this tradition.

The SAS, in addition to its institutes, formally included a learned society of an assembly of academicians and corresponding members. This assembly should have been elected from among the most distinguished scientists from SAS's institutes, universities, and other research establishments. However, during the period of communist totalitarianism, the Communist Party tried in every possible way to dominate the scientific research of SAS. In reality, the Communist Party, especially its ideological department, made crucial decisions about scientific policies and assembly membership.

Only with difficulty could important scientists who were non-party members become members of SAS management, resulting in serious distortions in membership. The SAS was an independent organization, but on the international scene, it was represented through the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CSAS), which caused some problems for Slovak scientists to make and maintain scientific contacts with foreign countries. By the end of 1980s, the SAS had more than 6,000 employees in 47 institutes, including many distinguished scientists of international reputation. Despite this, power interventions by the Communist Party brought about distortions of SAS management structures, i.e., – the Presidium, and the composition of the General Assembly (the assembly of academicians and corresponding members).

During the revolutionary days of November 1989, many SAS scientists and researchers joined the protest activities of students and artists, and stood up for democratic processes and fundamental changes in both the SAS and society. Strike committees were established in almost all SAS institutes and many SAS employees were in the leadership of the new political group – Public Against Violence. In general, the changes within the SAS paralleled those in the society at large.

Correction of Distortions Caused by Totalitarian Power

After the initial success of the November 1989 revolution in Slovakia, the first correction stage in the Academy involved efforts to remove the greatest distortions caused by the former totalitarian power. These efforts especially centered on removing Communist Party influence from SAS's leading bodies.

On November 27, 1989, a public rally of about 2,000 SAS employees took place to support the demands of students, the Czech Civic Forum and the Slovak Public Against Violence. These demands included the abolition of the constitution article that imposed the leading role of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, and a call for free elections by secret ballot for all representative bodies. SAS representatives joined the strike against Communist control, by establishing the All-Academy Strike Committee. This committee requested the immediate exclusion of political parties from the SAS institutes and called on all to declare readiness for further strike action. During negotiations with the SAS Presidium, the All-Academy Strike Committee demanded the resignation of the SAS Presidium, which by now had been discredited in the eyes of the public, and the exclusion of all political parties from SAS. This was a non-negotiable demand to initiate dialogue between the representatives of civic initiative and elected bodies of the Academy at all levels so that elected representatives could participate in SAS General Assemblies. Thus, effective measures could be taken to remove ideology from science.

Under pressure of these events, SAS President, Vladimír Hajko, decided to cancel a planned SAS General Assembly, which was to have discussed the issue of environmental protection. He instead proposed that an extraordinary General Assembly meeting be held on December 18th. However, rapidly unfolding events saw the resignation of the whole SAS Presidium in its session on December 5, 1989. On December 6, 1989, the representatives of the All-Academy Strike Committee learned about the resignations during a second meeting with the SAS Presidium. They were also informed about the preparations for the extraordinary General Assembly, when the election of the new SAS management was expected. In spite of that the discredited General Assembly, formed by the totalitarian power intended to continue its activities. This was an unacceptable solution for the reformist forces on the Strike Committee, because it would have resulted in only limited reforms without any principal change in SAS management. A President should have been elected from the ranks of academicians and then confirmed by the Slovak National Council (Parliament).

On December 7, 1989, a meeting of the Forum of Scientists and Researchers of Slovakia was held. Almost 1,000 scientists and researchers adopted a resolution stating that the SAS Presidium, elected by the General Assembly from its members, was not a body capable of managing and representing science in Slovakia, and demanded that the government and the Slovak National Council repeal the existing Act on SAS The Forum members also demanded the repeal of the standards regulating science management. However, the establishments' representatives refused an invitation to take part in the election of the new SAS Presidium at the planned General Assembly.

At the SAS Presidium session on December 14, 1989, SAS President Vladimír Hajko resigned and proposed that the Presidium of the Slovak National Council appoint Ivan Hrivňák as the SAS President. It was an attempt of the old management to create a new body – the "Presidium of Understanding". This partially mirrored events in the political sphere where a transitional "government of understanding" had been established.

On December 22, 1989, the SAS Presidium convened a meeting of SAS members, representatives of civic initiatives (including the Forum of Scientists and Researchers, and elected representatives of the Council of Scientists), directors of SAS institutes, and personnel of the Office of the SAS Presidium. The election of a new Presidium was planned. However, for the transitional period, it was suggested that a three member operative group consisting of the director of the Office of the SAS Presidium, the head of the SAS secretariat, and Ivan Hrivňák, the scientific secretary of the old Presidium, should manage SAS.

As the appointment of Ivan Hrivňák by the National Assembly to the post of SAS President was considered undemocratic, he was challenged to undergo elections. He agreed. Among the more serious acts of this operative group was the public apology to those members who had had to leave the SAS in the "normalization" period with the offer of the possibility of indemnity and return to SAS. They also reaffirmed the vote of no confidence concerning directors of the SAS institutes.

The Council of Scientists – a new self-governing body

In parallel with the activity of these groups, which had resulted from the activities of the Strike Committees and other SAS members, structures for self-governing bodies were created within the SAS. This involved a fundamental change, because the initiative in establishing new management bodies passed to the democratically elected representatives of SAS institutions. The new self-governing body of the SAS was to be the Council of Scientists, which would be the democratically elected parliament of SAS. Each establishment would elect its own representatives to the Council of Scientists.

The first session of the Council of Scientists was held on January 5, 1990. A nine-member Organizational Committee, headed by Silvester Takács, was elected. This Organizational Committee was authorized to rapidly submit a draft of an amended bill on SAS to the Slovak National Council. The most important points of this amendment were the incorporation of the Council of Scientists as a self-governing body into the existing Act on the SAS, and making this Council the highest control and normative SAS body; this Council, not the SAS General Assembly, would elect the new SAS Presidium. Consequently, through these revolutionary changes, the most important self-governing body was created within the SAS. The Council of Scientists, de facto, took into its hands the initiative of managing SAS. The Council faced also the basic problems of the cooperation with the CSAS. However, eventually its management recognized the Council of Scientists as the sole representative body of SAS.

The Council of Scientists session on January 5, 1990, was held in the absence of designated SAS President, Ivan Hrivňák. He received a vote of no-confidence and was unseated. The "operative group" lost its raison d´être and initiative passed to the Council of Scientists. The most pressing tasks now facing the Council of Scientists and its Organizational Committee involved legitimizing the status of the Council of Scientists. This required an amendment to the Act on SAS, and, consequently, the election of a new Presidium in the plenum of the Council of Scientists in accordance with the proposed amendment. On January 5, 1990, the representatives of the Council of Scientists submitted a draft of this amendment to the Government of the Slovak Republic. The draft was approved on January 10, 1990. It was then approved by the Slovak National Council on January 12, 1990. Thus, legally, the Council of the Scientists was recognized as the highest body of the scientific community of SAS establishments. This provided the legal foundation for the election of the SAS Presidium.

These changes fundamentally changed the position of SAS within the scientific community. Under the previous system, the SAS General Assembly (academicians and corresponding members) was formally, a representative body of the whole Slovak scientific community and a Learned Society. As a result of this amendment, the Council of Scientists became a representative of SAS scientific establishments only. Thus, the SAS became a research institution and the wording about the SAS as the top Slovak scientific institution was deleted from the Act on SAS. SAS was now prepared to enter free competition in the sphere of science and research with other institutions of the same orientation.

The elections of the new SAS Presidium were held on January 22 and 23, 1990. The activity of the Organizational Committee ended at the session of the Council of Scientists on March 14, 1990, when the Statute of the Council was adopted. In accordance with this Statute, elections for the Committee of the Council of Scientists were held.

The first democratically elected SAS Presidium

One of the major issues in the elections was whether or not to elect representatives from universities and departmental research institutes (i.e. the institutes belonging to respective ministries of the government) to the Presidium. These representatives had previously been on SAS decision-making bodies, often arousing the indignation of SAS members. Finally, for the purpose of improving cooperation with universities, it was decided to elect non-academic representatives at a ratio of 2 to 5. However, this act did not protect SAS from future, often indiscriminate, attacks by some representatives of universities. Previously, both academies, the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CSAS), and the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS), in, the then, Czechoslovakia, had been officially responsible for scientific research in the whole country. However, to hold these academies responsible for the low level of financing for university research was not fair, as SAS representatives were often a minority on the relevant SAS panels. Also, there had been a popular misconception that funds not allocated to SAS, could have been given to universities. The naiveté of this misconception was subsequently revealed when the funds for SAS research were reduced without being reallocated to the universities.

At its first session, the Council of Scientists, the democratically elected body of the scientific community, decided that the number of members of the Provisional SAS Presidium was to be 21. It was also decided that the Presidium should have a parity structure of seven members from each of the three Science Departments; two of these seven were to be representatives of universities and departmental research institutes. The first Science Department represents the institutes dealing with inanimate nature; the second, represents those dealing with living nature and chemistry; and the third, represents those dealing with the social sciences and humanities. Only internal employees of SAS were eligible to become members of the President's board.

The members of the Council of Scientists, scientific societies, civic initiatives, and scientific, educational and research institutions nominated candidates for the posts of Presidium members. There were 98 nominations altogether. All candidates had to submit a written application with a short CV, a survey of their publications, and a list of their contributions to science. They were then required to appear before the Council of Scientists, where each was given five minutes to answer ten questions. These included questions about: the role and position of science in society; the relation between basic research at SAS, governmental departments, and universities; the internal structure of the SAS; the methods of financing basic research; the relation of the SAS to CSAS; the education of young scientists; the awarding of scientific degrees; the prospects of development in their own scientific branch; and his or her opinion of the new act on science. On January 23, 1990, the Council of Scientists elected a provisional SAS Presidium to serve until the end of 1992, pending approval of the new act on the SAS, or the new act on science. Mr. Ladislav Macho was elected SAS President.

At an extraordinary session on January 28, 1990, the Presidium issued a declaration supporting the current revolutionary processes in the country and the democratization of public life. At its first regular session on January 29, 1990, the Presidium declared that the SAS would be managed by democratically elected bodies, namely the Council of Scientists and the Presidium, and set its tasks for the next two years. These tasks were:

- to restore basic research in SAS to its original mission, e.g., to freely serve the quest for truth, independent of any ideology or political intervention;

- to uplift the cultural level of the nation by the development of thinking, and to contribute to the solutions of the principal problems of society by profound scientific analyses;

- to promote the application of progressive democratic elements in the organization of scientific research and in the management of scientific bodies within the framework of SAS's transformation by simplifying management structures and removing interlinks between scientific institutes and the SAS Presidium;

- to restructure the scientific institutes. Then use their increased independence to reduce the administrative apparatus at the Office of the SAS Presidium and at the institutes;

- to assure that management, at all levels, have proper scientific credentials, maintain a high level of professionalism, and have a clean moral profile without any intervention by political parties;

- to rectify political distortions in the Academy membership; to redress wrongs suffered for political reasons by members and researchers of the Academy, and by whole teams and institutes, especially during the "normalization" period after 1968-69;

- to meet the SAS Presidium goal to establish a new science management system in the SAS, that respects the needs for self-organization with special responsibility on the part of the most qualified scientists and scientific teams; the cancellation of so-called "scientific planning"; the establishment of a grant system for the organization; and to develop a better system of allocating funds for scientific projects;

- to consistently link the research within SAS to world science, and to introduce international criteria for the evaluation of results;

- to recover the ethical awareness of scientists;

- to fight for the preservation of SAS as an important organization for basic, non-university research;

Another goal of the SAS Presidium was cooperation with universities on all scientific and educational processes. This cooperation included the continuation of scientific education in the SAS establishments, raising the level of preparation of young scientists, especially through study abroad, and achieving world standards in scientific education. The Presidium also took the initiative to establish the Czecho-Slovak Foundation, enabling reciprocal stays at Czechoslovak establishments by foreign researchers in the sphere of basic research. Finally, the SAS Presidium prepared a new legislative amendment regarding the structure and activities of the Academy, that corresponded to the new social and political situation.

In the first half of 1990, despite the tension between the SAS Presidium and the Council of Scientists stemming from different views on the future direction of SAS, a range of democratization measures were implemented strengthening institute independence. As a democratic element of management, New Scientific Councils of the institutes were elected in SAS establishments. Votes of confidence were required for directors in individual institutes. If a director did not pass his vote of confidence, new elections were held; this time with open competition procedures. Criteria for the evaluation of all activities and the results of SAS establishments were set up to remove political intervention in research work, especially in the social sciences. Included in these evaluations were the professional criteria acceptable at the international level

The implementation of these goals took place under increasing economic pressure. The SAS budget was reduced annually during the tenure of the provisional Presidium. One of the defensive measures applied, was the reduction of the number of SAS employees, especially in services and administration, and skilled technicians. In reality, management rationalization represented the demise of Science Centres, conglomerations of institutes forcibly concentrated into large establishments such as the Institute of Technical Cybernetics, the Art Science Institute, the Institute of Literary Science, etc. Because they had not been discussed with scientists and researchers, the academic community negatively perceived the formation of these large Science Centres in the preceding period as directive measures which had not led to the proclaimed increase in research efficiency, but rather to the opposite reality.

The votes of confidence applied to directors of individual establishments, with the resulting electoral competition for these posts, were manifestations of a de-politicizing of the scientific scene. The decisive criteria were professional qualifications, moral integrity, and age (under 65). Twenty-four directors failed their votes of confidence. Other expressions of de-politicization and democratization of management were: the newly established Scientific Councils in scientific institutes; the dissolution of some of the auxiliary bodies of the Presidium and the appointment of new ones with new members. Rehabilitation commissions were established in SAS institutes. Their aim was the correction of wrongs and distortions from the "normalization" period (after 1968). The central rehabilitation commission, (the Commission for Redress of Wrongs) headed by SAS First Vice President, Silvester Takács, was attached to the Presidium.

In addition to above-mentioned goals, the Presidium dealt with the problem of buildings for SAS establishments, especially with regards to issues on the restitution of church property. The Presidium also drafted the principles for a new bill on SAS; established a new grant system and agency for supporting research; and prepared a proposal for governing changes in the contents and organization of SAS. The latter proposal especially aimed at increasing the effectiveness of science functions. During this time, the Presidium had to constantly fend off attacks and attempts to abolish SAS.

Following the election of the first SAS Presidium, the first stage of the struggle for a new democratic face to the SAS and the removal of the consequences of science management by the previous totalitarian system ended. The newly elected SAS Presidium now faced the very demanding tasks: making the analysis and diagnosis of the current state of the SAS; trying to make a critical self-reflection, and so beginning the thorough transformation of SAS that would give this scientific institution an entirely new face and direction. First, it was determined that SAS would not be formed in accordance with the resolutions of any political body, such as the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the totalitarian period, but in accordance with the internal needs of the various sciences. Second, it would be concerned with science as a whole, its role in society, and last, but not least, its connection with the development of science in the rest of the world.

System changes in the SAS

According to its programme declaration and the requirements of the SAS Council of Scientists, the SAS Presidium focused on changes in the structure of the management bodies and institutes in the SAS. It abolished as superfluous the existing scientific and organizational Centres (e.g., Centres of geoscientific research, chemical research, electric and physical research, physiological sciences, and biological and veterinary sciences, which had been established more as large administrative units for management and control in the institutes, than as organizations concentrated on the solution and implementation of more extensive and demanding scientific projects). The institutes within these Centres were re-established as independent research units.

In its effort to harmonize the needs of basic research with the current needs of society, in February 1990, the SAS Presidium: abolished the Institute of Scientific Atheism; established the Politology Cabinet of the SAS; and split the Art Science Institute into the Institute of Music Science, the Institute of Art History, and the Theatre and Film Cabinet. Out of 32 consulting and auxiliary bodies, intervening in the activities of institutes, the Presidium chose to actively continue only nine (e.g., Editorial Board; Scientific Education Council; Attestation Commission; Scientific Qualification Evaluation Commission; Environment Commission; etc.).

The Presidium also set up four new commissions. The SAS Commission for the Redress of Wrongs judged unjust actions or treatment, especially job losses, bans on scientific activities, etc., caused solely on the basis of decisions by political bodies, suffered by researchers before 1990. The SAS Presidium recommended that institutes employ former employees who had been dismissed from the institutes in the "normalization" period, and allocated additional funds for employing seven researchers. The SAS Presidium also approved the restoration of Academy membership to one living member, and offered SAS membership to one new member, whose appointment as an SAS member before 1989 had been constantly refused for political reasons.

The SAS Presidium Commission for Membership Issues also evaluated the extent of political intervention in SAS elections and SAS membership annulment; and (in cooperation with a similar commission in the CSAS) dealt with the same issues, especially from the "normalization" period, concerning CSAS members. The Commission for the Preparation of a New SAS Bill worked on a new formulation of the bill. Two drafts of the bill were prepared, but further legislative procedure was repeatedly stopped at the ministerial level and by the Slovak government, because they suggested it be linked to the preparation of the bill on the organization and promotion of science. Based on proposals by organizations from the sphere of research and development, this bill should have provided for the position of SAS, or its abolition.

The Commission of the SAS Presidium for Science and Research prepared a proposal to establish a grant system in SAS, and drafted a bill for the promotion of science and research. The SAS Presidium participated in the formulation of a new state policy on science and research, which was prepared by the Ministry of Economic Strategy, supporting proposals to establish the State Fund for Science and Research and a supra-departmental Slovak Grant Agency.

During 1990, personnel changes were made in management positions in SAS institutes. On the basis of competitive procedures, professional qualifications, and moral criteria, over half of the new directors for scientific institutes were appointed without any political interventions. The remainder passed votes of confidence at their institutes and the SAS Presidium.

The structure of Scientific Collegia was innovated, to which scientific councils of institutes and individual faculties of universities nominated members. The change of organizational structures within SAS, and the pressure to reduce the number of SAS employees resulted in a number of establishments in cancellations of the so-called development and production workshops. Most of their production involved substituting instruments and chemicals from abroad. These had been inaccessible due to previous foreign currency limitations and import barriers. These workshops lost most of their programmes due to the opening of markets and access to imports after 1989.

The requirement for a reduction of the SAS scientific and research base led to a significant decrease in the number of administrative workers, and to the elimination of personnel and special departments. Many scientists also left to go to universities, political and state bodies, or to go to newly formed economic and business organizations. Despite the reduction in the number of employees (6,200 in 1990, down to 4,572 by the end of 1992), scientific production did not decrease. On the contrary, its quality improved significantly, because sending the research papers abroad was no longer subject to registration by and approval from the so-called “special departments”.

For the first time within SAS, individual evaluations of scientists in institutes were made in accordance with internationally recognized criteria in terms of scientific and research activities, and international response. Scientific production in SAS establishments underwent evaluation in terms of quality of publication, and success in international cooperation. Financial means were allocated to establishments according to the results of their evaluations by the Attestation Commission.

The SAS Presidium went to great lengths to achieve the widest possible connection between universities and SAS institutes in the sphere of research and education. It supported the establishment of joint workplaces, and by the end of 1991, there were 15 of these. The number of SAS members lecturing at universities increased significantly. The removal of party and political barriers to the work of SAS members resulted in a substantial increase in the number of SAS scientists lecturing in universities and scientific institutes abroad.

Replacing the state plan of basic research by introducing a grant system was the most important administrative act. In July 1990, the Office of the SAS Presidium delivered methodical instructions for the conduct of scientific and research activities, the preparation of scientific projects and the allocation of grants to SAS institutes. The draft of the grant system of SAS was submitted to the scientific councils of SAS institutes for discussion. The SAS Presidium put the finishing touches to grant system in accordance with the comments received and approved it. It was proposed that 30-40% of the fund for bonuses and 25% of the money for investment and operating expenses for 1991 were to be allocated through the mechanism of the SAS internal grant system. To secure the legal and organizational basis for the grant agenda, the Department of Coordination of Science and Education of the Office of the SAS Presidium prepared a draft of the statute for the SAS Grant Agency, which was approved by the SAS Presidium on October 11, 1990. Overall, 733 projects were submitted for 1991.

The SAS Grant Agency (GA SAS) established by the SAS Presidium by the end of 1990 was the first of its kind in Slovakia for the competitive allocation of financial funds for science (basic and targeted research) based on peer review of research projects. The founding elected officials were Branislav Lichardus, as Chairman, and Jozef Tiňo, as Vice Chairman, of the GA SAS. They put finishing touches to the statute and the organizational structure of the Agency.

In 1991, an analogous grant agency was created by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic for universities. By the end of 1991, both agencies merged into a single Grant Agency for Science (GAS). The highest control body for the GA SAS, and later GAS, was the Board of the Slovak Government for Science and Research. The establishment of the GAS was the first systemic measure intended to intensify cooperation between SAS and universities. The GA SAS Presidium played a principal organizational role in this process in cooperation with the SAS Presidium and Ministry of Education. However, it is necessary to note that the technical and organizational support services of the GAS operation did not have a priority position at the Ministry of Education. It, therefore, lagged behind the level achieved at SAS, where, except for the Secretariat which remained attached to the Office of the SAS Presidium, the GA SAS, later the GAS, had been an independent autonomous body of the SAS Presidium since May 1991.

In May 1991, the GA SAS initiated an all-state conference of grant agencies operating in the Czecho-Slovak Federative Republic at the CSAS, SAS, Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic, and the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic. It attempted to unify: the structures of agency bodies; the criteria for the effectiveness of scientific work and the evaluation and judgment of projects; as well as the forms for registering research projects.

Following the changes in the management of the Slovak Ministry of Education after the parliamentary election in autumn of 1994, this central office of state administration strengthened the application of customs from the totalitarian period. Its first activities centered on correcting GAS decisions on research projects and their financing. In 1995, the GAS was actually abolished. In both the universities and SAS, the Ministry of Education implemented the so-called "government scientific projects". These were non-transparently, but much more advantageously, financed than previous GAS projects. This attempt to eliminate the democratization of the organization of science in Slovakia was rectified in 1996, to a certain extent. At this time, the joint grant agency of the SAS and the Slovak Ministry of Education was revived by transforming the GAS (without significant organizational changes) into the Scientific Grant Agency, – VEGA, which continues to the present day.

The measures introduced by the first SAS Presidium in its two-year-tenure brought about fundamental changes in the work of SAS and its position in the science and research community in Slovakia. The number of SAS employees was reduced significantly. Scientific research was concentrated; there were apparent efforts to improve its quality, to change from the extensive financing of often-ineffective programmes by introducing a system of competitive funding and to intensively and regularly evaluate research in all branches of science. The SAS increased working contacts with foreign scientific institutions, often on the basis of joint projects although official international contacts had to be implemented principally through the all-state Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague.

In accordance with law, the first democratically elected Presidium should have worked until the end of 1992, but its members decided to ask for their abdication sooner. It was underlined by the fact that, in the meantime, some Presidium members had become directors of institutes; some held significant posts in political bodies; and there were also differences in opinion with the SAS Council of Scientists. In addition, due to the uneven division of responsibilities among individual it became necessary to reduce the number of Presidium members and exclude extra-academic members. The resignation of all Presidium members resulted in new elections being held in May 1992.

Continuation of systemic changes during the tenure of the second SAS Presidium

The transformation process continued during the tenure of the second SAS Presidium, elected in 1992 for a three-year-period as a regular SAS Presidium, headed by President Branislav Lichardus.

In 1992, the top priority task of this SAS Presidium was the introduction of a continuing process of evaluation and accreditation of scientific establishments. The internal Accreditation Commission of the SAS (AC) was selected from the ranks of internationally recognized scientists, nominated representatives of the Council of Scientists, and the SAS Employees Trade Union. It was headed by the first SAS Vice President, Ján Štohl. AC sub-commissions were established in the three individual SAS departments. The Supervisory Board was comprised of independent experts from universities, and included the Minister of Education. The evaluation process was transparent, all international evaluation criteria of scientific and research work were adopted and published, and all submitted background documents were publicly accessible for scrutiny. Pursuant to this process, all SAS institutes were placed in accreditation groups, A to D. In 1993, accreditation was implemented in the institutional financing of establishments activities, and eight institutes, placed in the D group, were dissolved. These systemic measures in the SAS were unprecedented in Slovakia by the application of international quality criteria of scientific and research work, methodological consistency, transparency, and evaluation results implementation. These measures were also unprecedented in Europe, at the time, due to the short period of initial successful implementation.

Financial problems caused by the drastic reduction of the SAS budget by 70% in 1989, resulted in the number of employees being reduced by about 40% in accordance with evaluation results. The adequacy of evaluation criteria was proven by the fact that the reduction of SAS employees did not have a negative impact on the quantity and quality of scientific and research activities. This reduction also limited a chaotic drain of efficient scientists from SAS going abroad or into the business sphere, as was the case in other sectors of the scientific and research base. In a solid and permanent way, therefore, the accreditation process increased the overall activities of institutes, and the quantitative and qualitative efficiency of research. The evaluation process also brought innovative stimuli to the scientific orientation of institutes, and for the science policies of the whole SAS. It was also very important that the SAS scientific community had accepted the continuance of accreditation process.

Despite these positive systemic measures in SAS and its comparability with similar non-university institutions in advanced foreign countries, in the first years of the transformation process some representatives of universities, departmental research, and some officials of the government continued to make efforts to eliminate SAS as a relic of the totalitarian period. Fortunately, similar efforts did not succeed in any Central European post-communist country. Tendencies to abolish SAS, however, began to appear immediately following November 1989, and the first serious action in this direction was the above-mentioned draft of a law on the Organization of Support for Science and Technology, submitted by the Ministry of Education during the tenure of the provisional SAS Presidium.

In April 1992, with the assistance of the Committee of the National Council of the Slovak Republic (Parliament) for Education and Science, it was possible to prevent the approval of this law, which would have set the stage for the abolition of SAS. The SAS Council of Scientists, the SAS Presidium, and the directors and chairmen of Scientific Councils of SAS establishments protested against its approval in a letter sent to the government, and organized a protest rally in front of the National Council of the Slovak Republic.

On June 11 and 12, 1992, an OECD international conference was held in the House of SAS Scientists in Smolenice. It was the third and final stage of a joint project of the Czecho-Slovak Federative Republic with OECD, entitled "Survey of the Status of CSFR Policies in Science and Technology". The conference was attended by delegations representing more than a third of the OECD countries. Delegations came from the CSFR, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, France, USA, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Austria, Germany, United Kingdom, Hungary, and Poland. The background document of the conference was the General Report on the Development and Situation of Science, Research and Technological Progress in the CSFR. In the end, the OECD experts did not insist on the implementation of their original recommendation for basic research exclusivity at universities. They had suggested to transfer the SAS establishments of Academies to universities, and to retain the Academies only as Learned Societies. After extensive discussion, among other issues, our arguments stressing the importance of the development of non-university research in the transforming countries of Central Europe were accepted, including recommendations for preserving the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.

The meeting of Central European representatives of education and Academies with the OECD representatives at the Leeds Castle in England in June 1993 also held in favour of preserving non-university research. SAS President Branislav Lichardus attended the conference at which the Slovak Minister of Education, again, proposed the incorporation of the SAS scientific and research establishments into the faculties of universities in his address. However, the continuation of non-university research and development at Academies in post-communist countries was successfully defended by SAS together with the representatives of the Hungarian and Polish Academies of Sciences.

Another opportunity to abolish SAS arose in 1992, from the impending demise of the Czech and Slovak Federation and the establishment of independent Slovak and Czech Republics. At that time, the CSAS ceased to exist and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic was established. The demise of the CSAS carried a risk that the SAS would also be abolished, because it was defined by the Act of the Slovak National Council No. 74/1963 Coll. as an “organic part of the CSAS”. Following consultations of the SAS President with the CSFR Federal Government and the National Council of the Slovak Republic in which they attempted to find a “legally pure” solution, the amendment of the Act on SAS from December 17, 1992, was approved “at the eleventh hour” with the help of the Chairman of the Slovak National Council. According to this amendment “the Slovak Academy of Sciences is a legal entity; the Academy is a government budget organization residing in Bratislava”. This step prevented the ex lege demise of SAS by the demise of CSAS.

The division of Czechoslovakia resulted in a new status for SAS, mainly in international cooperation. The SAS became a national member of the ICSU, and a number of other international organizations. It has had to build its international contacts in entirely new ways.

It can be said that the transformation process of SAS ended in 1992—1993. Changes continued and continue even at the present. However, the most fundamental reforms and transformational steps were taken in the initial period. Formally, the transformation process culminated in the approval, in 2002, of the new Act on SAS, which codified all the principal reforms SAS had undergone since November 1989. Following this transformation, SAS has become a scientific and research institution in both basic and (to a smaller extent) applied research. Its independence was confirmed, first, by the preservation of its independent budget chapter, but more importantly, by the autonomy and democratic character of all its self-administrative bodies, especially the Presidium and Assembly (the latter replaced the previous Council of Scientists). The Slovak Academy of Sciences has, therefore, established itself not only as an important part of the scientific community in Slovakia, but it has also become the most successful and efficient Slovak scientific institution in international cooperation, particularly in the European research area.

Edited by Dušan Kováč on the basis of background materials supplied by Branislav Lichardus, Ladislav Macho, Silvester Takács, and Dušan Kováč, and using archive documents in the Central Archive of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, arranged by the archivists Lýdia Kamencová, Jozef Kľačka, Ľudmila Nemeskurthyová and Alexandra Marčeková. The authors express their gratitude to Štefan Luby for his valuable comments.