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Warsaw Pact invasion remembered

CEREMONIES across Slovakia marked 39 years since Warsaw Pact forces invaded the former Czechoslovakia.

The invasion on August 21, 1968 thwarted all hopes that the communist regime would be democratised.

Prime Minister Robert Fico commemorated this event by laying a wreath on the grave of Alexander Dubček at a Bratislava cemetery in Slávičie Údolie. He was accompanied by Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Viera Tomanová, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák and Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš.

In a speech, the prime minister said no one can defeat democracy and freedom with tanks, or sustain it with airplanes.

"I am also saying this with regard to Iraq and other countries," Fico said.

In his speech, the prime minister reminded his audience that Dubček longed to transform his dream of "socialism with a human face" into reality, the SITA newswire wrote.

"I want to openly identify myself with this socialist, Slovak politician and follow his path as a patriot, democrat and confident European," Fico said.

He also paid tribute to the victims of the invasion.

"This message of human and social significance, of rule with the people and for the people, by which the Slovak politician Dubček made his mark on modern European history, remains an icon for my government," he said.

In Košice, Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič, a historian by profession, attended a ceremony organised by the municipality and the World Association of Former Czechoslovak Political Prisoners, the TASR newswire wrote. He did not try to hide his pre-1989 affiliation with the Communist Party and said that his generation was "killed" by what happened in August 1968.

"Our generation is still suffering from it," he said.

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