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Hrušovský speech draws applause

Parliamentary speaker Pavol Hrušovský, in a speech marking the 10th anniversary of independent Slovakia on January 1, spoke of the nation's long history under Hungarian and Czech influence, and called for "a new political culture".

Addressing parliamentarians in a special ceremony, Hrušovský made direct reference to some of the most controversial areas of Slovakia's past, calling the nineteenth century Hungarian empire part of Slovakia's identity, and referring to the deportation of 70,000 Slovak Jews under the second world war Nazi-dominated Slovak state "a heritage and a black mark in Slovak history that we are still trying to deal with".

The speech was hailed by politicians and analysts alike as a courageous attempt to create a vision of Slovakia's future based on acceptance of its past.

"I was very impressed, because it is the first time we have heard an attempt from a top politician to come to terms with the past, to use history rather than abuse it," said historian Ľubomír Lipták.

"I wanted to say something that wasn't too political, but which would be a truly statesmanlike look at Slovakia and the roots of our nationhood," Hrušovský said after the speech.

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