A STATUE of the well-known 19th century Hungarian revolutionary Lajos Kossuth was raised in the southeastern Slovak town of Rožňava after being hidden from the public for 60 years.
Hungarian Coalition Party leader Béla Bugár said at the ceremony that the move was a sign of "great tolerance on the part of Rožňava's inhabitants".
The Slovak daily SME wrote that Kossuth contributed to the elimination of serfdom in the Austro-Hungarian empire.
Historian Milan Zemko noted, however, that Kossuth never recognised Slovaks as a nation of people.
For this reason, Stanislav Bajaník, the spokesman for Matica Slovenská, the state-subsidised organisation for the preservation of Slovak cultural heritage, called the decision by Rožňava authorities a "provocative act" aimed at stirring nationalist feelings.
Twenty-seven percent of Rožňava inhabitants are ethnic Hungarians.
The town's inhabitants have not shown any signs of protest, and the ceremony went peacefully.
16. Feb 2004 at 0:00 | From press reports