Relevant literature recognizes the significant role of diasporas in international relations and in domestic politics. It has been acknowledged that diasporas can have an impact on both the country/countries where they live and on the country/countries to which they relate. Conversely, states can have a great influence on their citizens and co-ethnics living abroad. For these reasons, the traditional research focus on diasporas and their impact on the state has shifted towards examining the role of states in forming and supporting diasporas.
Today, most states attempt to engage with their population abroad in some way or another. There is a growing trend of state adoption of diaspora engagement initiatives and policies around the world. Therefore, the question of how and why states engage their diasporas is highly relevant in the contemporary global, mobile, and interconnected world and its answers can shed the light on state-diaspora relations.
This article explores how and why Slovakia constructs and engages its diaspora. The topic is addressed from the perspective of political science by applying a new institutionalism approach and a qualitative research design. The qualitative methods used in this article are case study, archival analysis, and text- and document-based techniques. The time period under consideration begins in 1993, when Slovakia declared independence, and continues to the present. Slovakia constructed the term ‘Slovaks living abroad’ generally so as to include both Slovak citizens and Slovak co-ethnic non-citizens living outside of Slovakia, establishing under one label two different groups of people with distinctive identities and forms of political membership. The groups have equal legal status but different rights, obligations, and benefits.
This article argues that Slovakia is trying to use its diaspora policies to extend its authority over citizens and even co-ethnic non-citizens living abroad within and beyond its territory. This means that diaspora policies have the potential to be a challenging factor for nation-states and the nation-state system. However, citizenship still remains the main demarcating line between Slovak citizens and Slovak co-ethnic non-citizens. The boundaries between the members of the Slovak political community were not erased, just slightly redrawn in favour of Slovak co-ethnic non-citizens.