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Word quickly spread through the country, until the MiG-29 tailpiece was an even hotter topic than the Slovak chemical, biological, and radiation protection unit currently deployed in Kuwait to assist coalition forces.
According to the TASR news agency, Defence Minister Ivan Šimko was shocked when he saw the photo, but said he thought the picture had only been used to show what a MiG-29 jet looked like.
"They probably used any photograph that was at hand," he said.
CNN representatives were unable to comment before The Slovak Spectator went to press.
Reactions among the Slovak military personnel were mixed.
"I laughed at it, especially when I imagined all the Americans that will now get red in the face whenever they see our insignia. I hope that in his next interview with Larry King, [Prime Minister Mikuláš] Dzurinda will be called 'Iraqi PM'," said Michal Kovač, 22, a student at the military flight academy in Košice.
Kovač was referring to Dzurinda's appearance on the well-known chat show in November 2001, when King introduced Dzurinda as Romanian PM Adrian Nastase and later repeatedly called him "ambassador".
However, not all military personnel saw the funny side of the misunderstanding.
"Some were rather upset when they found out about it," said Kovač.
According to TASR, the Defence Ministry requested that CNN either mark clearly that the photo was being used for illustrative purposes only or replace it with a photograph in which Slovak insignia was not visible. The picture has since been replaced.
- Lukáš Fila
31. Mar 2003 at 0:00