Former prime minister of Slovakia and hockey legends to present models of resistance and response to global challenges for the Nanovic Forum

Author: Keith Sayer

The Nanovic Forum

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, at 11:00 a.m., Mikuláš Dzurinda, who served as prime minister of Slovakia (1998-2006), will present the Nanovic Forum lecture on “The Challenges Facing Both Shores of the Atlantic” in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium.

His address will consider the context of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, terrorist activities in Africa, and other factors causing global destabilization before offering a perspective on how democratic nations can respond in a united way.

Clemens Sedmak, director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and professor of social ethics at the Keough School of Global Affairs, reflects:

“This Nanovic Forum topic, offered by Mikuláš Dzurinda, a leader who continues to play a key role in European political life, could not be more timely. We are clearly in a period of destabilization and, in some cases, violence, and that reality requires a response from us. We know that Mr. Dzurinda will help us continue thinking about the content of that response and how we can counter the ‘integral human destruction’ we see in Ukraine, Israel, and many other places with ‘integral human development.’”

Today, Dzurinda serves as president of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, a think tank based in Brussels, Belgium. Its mission is to “offer decision-makers and opinion leaders assistance in formulating new and effective policy options. These will help the European Union become a strong global player, a reliable transatlantic ally, and a better democracy promoter.”

Resistance to Russian/Soviet Imperialism in the Words of the Elite Athletes of the Day

In addition to Dzurinda’s lecture, the Nanovic Forum and the Nanovic Institute’s advisory board will host a panel discussion on “Resistance to Russian/Soviet Imperialism in the Words of the Elite Athletes of the Day” on the same day at 5 p.m. in 215 McKenna Hall.

Jane Heiden, chair of the advisory board, and her husband Tom Heiden, chief architect and moderator of this program, will welcome former hockey players who resisted and, in some cases, defected from Soviet bloc countries during the late Cold War era. Invited panelists include Dmitri Khristich, ​Vaclav Nedomansky, Anton Šťastný, and ​Peter Šťastný, who is also a member of the Nanovic Institute’s advisory board.

Jane Heiden shares that:

“Today, we (all of us) face the most acute threat to the post-WWII values-based, rules-based order – Putin’s war on Ukraine and the reassertion of Russian imperialism. Today, people at Notre Dame, in the US, throughout Europe, and around the world ought learn of and reflect on what it was like to live under the heel of the boot of the Russian totalitarian bear – and to recall the courage of those who resisted then.”

By bringing together a group of elite athletes of that era to share what it was like to resist, the organizers aim to provide insights and urgency to the need to resist imperialism in our current geopolitical climate. This opportunity will also allow those who know these players from their time in the NHL the opportunity to hear from them directly, embodying what Heiden refers to as “the intersection—here at Notre Dame—of academics and athletics.”

Both events are free and open to the public. All Notre Dame faculty, students, and staff are warmly invited to attend. Dzurinda will also be visiting several classes and meeting with key stakeholders during his visit to Notre Dame.

Generously established by Robert and Elizabeth Nanovic, the Nanovic Forum’s mission is to bring Europe’s leaders from many fields to Notre Dame to explore, discuss, and debate the most pressing questions about Europe today. Past speakers have included, among many others:

Previous Nanovic Forum addresses may be watched on the Nanovic Institute’s website or YouTube channel.