Slovakia and the European media landscape have lost a precious man, an experienced and well-proven journalist, publicist and writer Juraj Alner. He died on Tuesday, 30 January 2024 in Bratislava at the age of 86 after a serious and longtime illness. He has had a hard life – grew up in a family that had to hide during the years of World War II with the help of brave people to escape the murderous tentacles of the Holocaust. After the war, they were persecuted by the communist totalitarian regime. In spite of this, he managed in happier years to fulfil his desire to be a journalist with alternating success.
The doors of freedom and democracy did not really open for him until November 1989 in the days, weeks and months of the ‘Velvet Revolution’. His commentaries, analyses and reports returned to the pages of newspapers after another twenty-year wave of totality caused by the so-called normalisation brought about by the invasion of reformist Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968. He came again to the editorial staff of the daily Ľud, later the weekly Slobodný piatok, and the daily Narodná obroda. He was also a correspondent for the Austrian Der Standard and the Luxemburger Wort newspaper.
Juraj Alner was involved in the revival of the Pan-European Union in Slovakia in 1990 and in 1993, together with a handful of journalistic colleagues, he founded the Slovak section of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ). He was president of the section for fifteen years. But not only that – between 2002 and 2004 he held the elected position of Secretary General of AEJ International, wrote for Slovak and foreign newspapers, wrote books, lectured at Slovak and European universities. His work has been honoured with many awards at home and abroad, in 2015, he was even awarded the highest French decoration, the Order of the Legion of Honour – Officer de la Légion d´honneur. Previously, in 2011, he became Honorary Secretary General of the AEJ International.
One of the key events of the enlargement process of the European Union in the first decade of the 21st century was the AEJ General Assembly and Congress organised by the Slovak section in cooperation with the governmental authorities of the Slovak Republic in September 2001. The main topic of the congress was European integration from the point of view of the four members of the Visegrad Four – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and also Slovenia. There were not only prominent representatives of political and social circles from the above-mentioned countries, but also media representatives from all over the European continent. And it is no exaggeration to say that Juraj Alner was the engine and soul of this undoubtedly successful event. His whole life has been permanently inscribed in the chronicle of creative acts of the Slovak and international media community.
Ivan Brada, Chairman of AEJ, Slovak Section
Tibor Macák, Vice President of AEJ Int. and Secretary General of AEJ, Slovak Section
Július Lőrincz, former President of AEJ, Slovak Section