Ivan Gaparovi, a Slovak politician and lawyer, is best known for his ten-year tenure as President of Slovakia. His lengthy presidency marked the first time in Slovak history that a presidential candidate was re-elected. Apart from his presidency, Gaparovi is best known for his non-confrontational style of governance, which earned him widespread popularity both at home and abroad. His presidency was not without controversy, chief among which was his opposition to the erection of sculptures depicting figures with alleged fascist or Nazi sympathies. His decision during his presidency not to appoint a new attorney general drew criticism and some political uproar. On a lighter note, Gaparovi is frequently mocked in the press and by the Slovak populace for his verbal slips. Apart from his presidency, Gaparovi established himself early in academia, serving on numerous universities and academic councils, as well as holding various government positions within the HZDS party (the “Movement for a Democratic Slovakia”). On the international stage, Gaparovi’s efforts during his presidency included collaboration with the United Nations on issues such as poverty reduction, sustainable development, human rights protection, and responsible arms control.
Childhood & Adolescence
Ivan Gaparovi was born on 27 March 1941 in the town of Poltár in Slovakia’s south-central Banská Bystrica Region, just south of the Tatra mountain range, to Roman Catholic parents. Poltár was a part of the first Slovak Republic at the time of Gaparovi’s birth.
Vladimir Gaparovi, his father, was a secondary school teacher and headmaster. He was a Croatian immigrant who moved to Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II.
Career of Ivan
Gaparovi moved from Poltár to Bratislava in 1959 to pursue a degree in law at Comenius University, Slovakia’s leading university; he completed his studies in 1964.
Gaparovi worked in the Martin District Prosecutor’s Office and the Bratislava Municipal Prosecutor’s Office following the completion of his studies.
He briefly joined the Communist Party of Slovakia in 1968, supporting Alexander Dubek’s reforms. By August of the same year, the party had expelled Gaparovi in response to the Warsaw Pact invasion.
Gaparovi taught law at his alma mater, Comenius University, from 1968 to 1990. He taught criminal law, criminology, and criminological practice at the Department of Criminal Law, Criminology, and Criminological Practice.
Gaparovi was appointed deputy vice-chancellor (also known as “prorector”) of Comenius University in February 1990.
In 1990, following the Velvet Revolution and President Václav Havel’s democratic election, Havel appointed Gaparovi as the federal prosecutor-general for Slovakia.
Gaparovi briefly served as Vice-President of the Legislative Council of Czechoslovakia in 1992. Following Czechoslovakia’s disintegration into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Gaparovi returned to his position at Comenius University’s Law Faculty, where he served on two of the university’s Scientific Councils.
Gaparovi joined the HZDS, or Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (‘Hnutie za demokraticke Slovensko’), led by Vladimir Meiar, in 1992.
Gaparovi was elected Speaker of the Slovak Republic’s National Council following the HZDS’s victory in the June 1992 elections. Gaparovi also chaired a commission investigating a scandal involving hidden microphones discovered in the US Consulate in Bratislava.
Gaparovi also assisted in the development of the newly formed state’s constitution in late 1992. Gaparovi served as a member of the parliamentary Committee for the Supervision of the SIS (Slovak Intelligence Service) and the Slovak parliamentary delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union from 1998 to 2002.
In July 2002, due to internal conflicts and disagreements with Vladimir Meiar, Gaparovi left the HZDS and co-founded a new party, the HZD or Movement for Democracy (‘Hnutie za demokraciu’), with several other prominent members of Parliament.
Gaparovi ran for president in 2004 against Meiar and Eduard Kukan, and despite being considered the least likely candidate, he was elected.
Gaparovi gradually gained popularity throughout his presidency, from 2004 to 2014, despite his unapologetic stance regarding his (unpopular) former role in Meiar’s presidency.
Gaparovi was embroiled in a controversy in 2011 over the erection of a statue of Janos Esterhazy, which Gaparovi opposed due to Esterhazy’s alleged ties to Nazism and fascist movements.
Gaparovi faced criticism in July 2013 for failing to name a new attorney general despite the candidate being elected by the Slovak parliament.
He was a co-author of Slovakia’s Constitution. Gaparovi published his first autobiographical work, ‘I Think Nationally, Feel Socially,’ in 2006.
Gaparovi published two books in 2009: ‘A Dignified Life for All’ and ‘About Us: Slovakia, Europe, and the Earth’, the latter of which was published in both English and German by the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.
Awards and Accomplishments
Gaparovi was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Vytautas the Great of Lithuania and the Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia in 2005.
Gaparovi was awarded the Knight Grand Cross by Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain in 2007. Croatia awarded Gaparovi the Grand Order of King Tomislav in 2008 for his contributions to friendship and cooperation between Slovakia and Croatia.
Gaparovi has been appointed to three honorary Orders in Slovakia and has been awarded two honorary Crosses and Double Crosses.
Personal History and Legacies
In 1964, Gaparovi married Silvia Benikova. They have two children together: Iva, a daughter, and Denis, a son.
Gaparovi’s favorite sport is basketball, which is not as popular in Slovakia as soccer, ice hockey, or tennis.
Estimated Net Worth
Ivan is one of the wealthiest World Leaders and ranks high on the list of most popular World Leaders. Ivan Gasparovic’s net worth is estimated to be around $10 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.