The much-debated statue of Prince Svätopluk, the 9th-century ruler of Great Moravia, which was erected on the courtyard of Bratislava Castle, should be removed stated an expert commission that was asked to assess the statue from a historical and artistic point of view. The commission presented its findings at a press conference on Monday, September 6, the TASR newswire reported.

The commission, chaired by archaeologist Marína Zavacká, recommended to the Speaker of Parliament Richard Sulík that another place should be found for the statue in the area of the castle. The commission stated two additional recommendations. First it said the disputed symbol on Svätopluk's shield, which resembles that of the fascist wartime Hlinka Guard, must be removed as well as what the commission called a misleading inscription on the pedestal which describes Svätopluk as a Slovak ruler when a separate Slovak identity did not emerge until around two centuries after his death.

The commission suggested that if Ján Kulich, the sculptor of the statue, does not agree with this, then the statue should be transferred to the Slovak National Museum as an example of political manoeuvring and mythologizing and be replaced by another statue of Prince Svätopluk created following a public tender. Another option is to return the statue to Kulich and install a new one after a tender.

Zavacká said that so many mistakes were made in preparation of the statue that it can be shown that it is not actually one of Svätopluk at all. The past government led by Smer party unveiled the statue a few days before the general election in June with a ceremony broadcast live on public-service Slovak Television.

Sulík said that these are only the commission's recommendations and that he has not made a final decision on the statue's future.

The Slovak Historical Institute and the history department of cultural institution Matica Slovenská said that Sulík should leave the statue of Svätopluk on the courtyard of Bratislava Castle. According to a statement issued by the two institutions they want Sulík to ensure that the inscription on the statue's pedestal will be preserved. Experts from Matica Slovenská claimed that the expert commission appointed by Sulík was not created by standard procedures.

According to a statement issued by Smer the statue of ‘King Svätopluk’ should be inviolable and said any attempt to remove it would be a barbarous anti-Slovak act, TASR wrote.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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