HISTORIANS say they are disgusted at the president's honouring of Jozef Tiso's right hand man for defending Slovak independence.
Jozef A. Mikuš, 92, was given the award of the Pribinov Cross, along with a number of other people, for services in the defence of the Slovak state, after government proposed the war-time diplomat for the honour.
However, Mikuš, who was a senior figure in the Tiso Nazi-puppet government between 1944 and 1945, has been attacked by five of Slovakia's most prominent historians as a fascist who does not deserve such an award.
"The stance of Jozef Mikuš towards Slovak independence was not influenced by the defence of democratic principles, but from a defence of the Slovak wartime state, including its political regime," wrote Jozef Jablonický, Ivan Kamenec, Dušan Kováč, Eduard Nižnianský and Katarína Závacká in an open letter to President Rudolf Schuster.
The Tiso regime is one of the most controversial in Slovak history. After setting up a fascist state with Hitler's blessing, Tiso was president of the first Slovak state during the Second World War.
However, while some Slovaks revere him as a man who brought into being the first Slovak nation, many refuse to honour the head of a fascist regime that collaborated with Hitler and was the only state to pay the Nazis to take Jews to death camps.
President Schuster has claimed that at the start of December when the first proposals for the award were made, he agreed with PM Mikuláš Dzurinda that all people proposed would be approved for the honour.
21. Jan 2002 at 0:00 | Compiled from Slovak press reports