Former prime minister of Slovakia and hockey legends to present at Nanovic Forum

Author: Keith Sayer

The Nanovic Forum

The Nanovic Institute for European Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs will welcome Mikuláš Dzurinda, who served as prime minister of Slovakia from 1998 until 2006, to deliver the Nanovic Forum lecture “The Challenges Facing Both Shores of the Atlantic” at 11 a.m. Nov. 30 (Thursday) 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 and professor of social ethics at the Keough School, said, “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. 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 Room 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, ​Václav Nedomanský, Anton Šťastný and ​Peter Šťastný, who is also a member of the Nanovic Institute’s advisory board.

Jane Heiden said, “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 U.S., throughout Europe and around the world ought to 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 National Hockey League the opportunity to hear from them directly, embodying what Heiden referred 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 invited to attend. Dzurinda will also be visiting several classes and meeting with key stakeholders during his visit to Notre Dame.

The mission of the Nanovic Forum, generously established by Robert and Elizabeth Nanovic, 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: Giorgi Margvelashvili, former president of Georgia; Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, former president of Croatia; Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Polish American journalist; and David Alton, Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool, former British parliamentarian.

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

Originally published by Keith Sayer at on Nov. 20.