EIGHTEEN Slovak personalities have received high state awards marking the country's independence day on January 1. President Rudolf Schuster, who distributed the New Year honours, noted that it is the wise and skilled people who increase a country's credit and authority abroad.
The Pribina Cross First Class went to eminent filmmaker Dušan Hanák, who enriched Slovak cinema with masterpieces like Paper Heads (Papierové hlavy), Silent Joy (Tichá radosť), and Pink Dreams (Ružové sny.) Painter Ernest Zmeták, who had a significant impact on Slovak fine arts in the second half of the 20th century, and Peter Blaho, distinguished Romanist and Rector of the Trnava University, also received the Pribina Cross. The honour went in memoriam to František Klein, a significant figure of the Slovak medical sciences.
Ondrej Šeševička, who has been commended for the effective use of Slovak raw material resources, especially in the modernization of magnesit mining technologies in the Prešov region, has been awarded the Pribina Cross Second Class. Slovakia's world champions in canoeing, Juraj Bača, Michal Riszdorfer, Richard Riszdofer, and Erik Vlček, received the same award.
The Pribina Cross Third Class went to writer and significant representative of Hungarian literature Laszló Dobos, who in 1968 was a member of the Slovak government but was forced out after the Soviet invasion. Currently, he is the director of Madách Publishing House in Bratislava. A former miner and planner of the Branisko tunnel, Peter Čertík; acknowledged forestry expert Ctibor Greguš, who has been studying ecological forestry and its sustainable development in Slovakia; and the founder of the modern archivist sciences in Slovakia, Jozef Kočiš, received the same award. The cross also went to Slovak art critic Ľudovít Petránsky, mayor of the Bratislava Old Town Vladimír Bajan, and Helena Woleková, who made significant contributions to the development of social affairs as the first woman to become a minister of a post-communist government.
Awards are traditionally given out on New Year's Day, which is also the anniversary of Slovakia's independence in 1993 as a result of the peaceful split of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic.
Czechoslovakia, a state of Czechs and Slovaks, was established on October 28, 1918, and split twice: in 1939, it was divided at the order of Germany, with Slovakia becoming a Nazi puppet state; and the second time after contentious talks on a new federal constitution.
12. Jan 2004 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová