History and Establishment
The history of Karol Rybárik Diplomatic Academy dates back and is closely related to the changes brought about in the post-November 1989 period. The newly adopted Act No. 172/1990 Coll. on Universities which came into effect on 1 July 1990 introduced significant changes to the legal regulation of the status of Comenius University and its respective faculties.
The above mentioned Act acknowledged universities´ new status and their legal personality which was built upon the unqualified academic rights and freedoms. The Act defined the universities as the supreme educational, scientific and cultural institutions guaranteeing the freedom of scientific research and publication of its findings, the right to deliver lectures and to study as well as the right to elect their own academic bodies and freely change and supplement their structures. In the period of 1990 – 1991, the basic rules regulating the Faculty's autonomy and activities were adopted at Comenius University. Simultaneously, the entire structure of Faculty's bodies was reviewed and supplemented. Therefore, there was a space made for the creation of a completely new specialised educational department at the Faculty.
Upon the decision rendered by the then Dean of the Faculty of Law Dr. h. c. prof. JUDr. Peter Blaho, CSc. and the approving resolution adopted by the Academic Senate, the Institute of International Relations at the Faculty of Law of Comenius University was established on 19 June 1991 representing a new scientific and pedagogical department.
The Institute of International Relations introduced new possibilities for the postgraduate form of education and the preparation of experts for the diplomatic sphere and international relations and international law sphere. Its study programme was based upon the proven and tested models implemented by diplomatic academies around the democratic European states.
In its first years, the Institute was provided with great assistance, valuable consultations and inspiration by the respective employees of the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna. Furthermore, the Institute became a department focusing on scientific and research activities in the area of legal comparatistics, international law and European studies. In 2006, the Institute became the seat of Jean Monnet Chair. A number of either national or international projects of both the educational as well as scientific nature were organised at the Institute. Other projects funded from the European Social Fund, Slovak Aid, Jean Monnet Action, Fulbright and others were also successfully completed. Lots of international conferences, seminars, exchange visits to the EU institutions and international organisations and specialised national and foreign lectures were organised as well.
As of 2015, the Institute has been gradually transforming in order to adapt to the needs arising out of the practical application and was therefore renamed Karol Rybárik Diplomatic Academy so that it could further realize the postgraduate study focused on diplomacy and international relations. As it has already been pointed out, the main objective of the Academy is the education and preparation of experts for the international relations sphere and diplomacy in accordance with the Act No. 568/2009 on Lifelong Learning.
To date, Karol Rybárik Diplomatic Academy can be proud of more than 450 graduates, including a number of ambassadors, state secretaries, a member of EU Parliament and other well-known experts from various areas of state administration, experts working in international organisations as well as experts working in private sector and third sector.
In 1991, Milan Kňažko, the then Minister of International Relations, rendered the decision which affected the future quality and nature of the newly developing Slovak diplomacy. On 19 June 1991, the Institute of International Relations at the Faculty of Law of Comenius University in Bratislava was established representing an educational department focused on educating the future Slovak diplomats and anybody intending to work in the area of international relations. The admission was conditional upon the completion of university study, good command of English language so that the students would be instantly capable of following the lectures delivered by English speaking lecturers, certain command of another foreign language (German, French, Spanish or Russian) and general knowledge concerning the international affairs. The study took four semesters and was completed by passing the state examination and presenting the thesis. Its students could enjoy all benefits brought to postgraduate university students and they could also be granted scholarships. Syllabus was focused on historical development, geopolitical character of international relations, international law, economic issues concerning the international relations, diplomacy, languages and finally even ad hoc lectures delivered by significant diplomats, theoreticians in the area of international politics as well as by other well-known personalities.
Establishment of such Institute was regarded as a daring experiment back then. There was nobody who would be brave enough to realize such project for a longer period of time. Finally, it was undertaken by the then 72-year-old Associate Professor JUDr. Karol Rybárik, CSc., the doyen of the Slovak legal community, who completed his law studies at Comenius University (1937 – 1942) and at Consular Academy in Vienna (1939 – 1940). He started to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Prague and also served at the embassies in Zagreb, Sofia, Berlin but he later had to terminate his diplomatic services for political reasons. He took up a number of labourer jobs until he could finally start working at the Faculty of Law of Comenius University in 1968. He worked at the Department of Civil Law and became a well-known expert in the area of copyright and IP law recognized nationally as well as internationally. Once he was given at least a slight opportunity to be able to focus again on the area of international relations, he prepared the concept of the institute targeted at the education of young diplomats. Subsequently, he became the head of this Institute after being appointed by doc. JUDr. Jozef Moravčík, CSc, the then Dean of the Faculty of Law of Comenius University. He established and ran this institution which was necessary at that time with remarkable effort, patience and kindness. Being the head of the Institute, he cooperated with Diplomatic Academy in Vienna and the University of Bologna which provided his Institute with external lecturers and ensured the first short-term visits ever for young Slovaks. Associate Professor Rybárik perceived the chance of establishing and running the Institute which he had been given to become his life mission enabling him to focus on diplomacy again at the end of his professional career. He loved diplomacy during his entire life. He was awarded the Pribina's Cross of 2nd Degree for his significant achievements and contributions to the development of Slovak diplomacy by the President. The greatest non-formal recognition of his work is definitely the fact that one entire generation which influenced the commencement of Slovak diplomacy can be proudly called “the Rybárik's generation” and conveys a high level of quality. Associate Professor Rybárik instantly managed to engage a number of significant professors and other well-known personalities in the teaching process, such as Professor Peter Fischer and Professor Gerhard Hafner from Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, Professor Otto Kunz and Professor Alexander Ort from Prague, ambassador Juraj Králik, Associate Professor Ján Azud as well as Maximilian Pammer, the first Austrian ambassador to the Slovak Republic. Dr. Želmíra Zelenáková provided Associate Professor Rybárik with great assistance and support by ensuring the realization of the study programme with immense effort. She was also in charge of organisational as well as operational matters of the Institute.
The first two grades were primarily comprised of a varied group of surprisingly the economics graduates and technical studies and natural sciences graduates. Law school and philosophy studies graduates made up only a minority of them. Since the Ministry was familiar with the these students' quality and their enthusiasm about the development of diplomacy in the newly born State, the Minister of International Relations enabled them to do their traineeships at the Ministry and subsequently, upon the agreement with Associate Professor Rybárik, offered them permanent jobs at the Ministry while completing their studies as external students. Two thirds of the studying Rybárik's generation held positions at the Ministry at the end of November 1992 and took up different offices covering all areas within the Ministry's new structure. They got actively engaged not only in working life but they also duly completed their study in spite of the fact that Associate Professor Rybárik imposed the same strict requirements on them. Young Rybárik's generation later participated in specialised stays at diplomatic institutes or directly at ministries in foreign countries and thus made remarkable progress in their professional development. Many of them got quickly promoted and moved up the career ladder higher and higher and shortly held significant managerial positions at the headquarters as well as abroad.
Associate Professor Rybárik prepared the project of the Institute in December 1990, i.e. at the time when the separation of Czechoslovakia was unheard of. He perceived the need for establishing such training department in Slovakia. The introductory part of the project study contains his words which could be quoted in order to demonstrate that some projects are really fulfilled: “It will be an exclusive study namely as far as the requirements for the intelligence and effort of its students are concerned. Our candidates will have to face a very strong collegial criticism during their practise and stricter requirements will be imposed on them by both the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs comparing them with their Czech colleagues and also at their workplace abroad. Since we only make up the minority and are marked with certain historical development and prejudices, the work of our attenders will be subject to intense and merciless criticism but they will have to cope with it and stand such criticism. This is the destiny of small nations' nationals and we cannot complain about it. We have to prove greater effort than bigger nations and if we want to achieve something we have to deserve it, demonstrate greater abilities, effort and diligence. Therefore, it will be necessary to place a significant emphasis on both the overall professional skills and knowledge of the attenders as well as on their character in their future education.”
If only the associate professor Rybárik could see and be proud of his best graduates who accomplished significant professional achievements with respect to Slovakia's integration efforts and who took up important offices within their quick career advancement.