President Ivan Gašparovič marked the country's 15th Independence Day on January 1 by awarding 22 people from culture, science, social sciences and economy with state honours.
The ceremony, also attended by Prime Minister Robert Fico and Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška, took place in the historical building of the Slovak National Council in Bratislava. During his speech, the President focused on morals. He emphasized that along with the prosperity and economic growth, the country must seek values.
The president then stressed the unique contribution the awardees had made. He expressed his wish that Slovakia not suffer from a lack of such people in the future, and thanked them for their contributions.
The second highest state honour, the Double White Cross Order Second Class, was awarded to writer and publisher Gregor Papuček, who has contributed to the life of Slovaks abroad by sustaining Slovakia's literary culture, especially in Hungary. Alexander Korda was awarded posthumously with the Milan Rastislav Štefánik Cross First Class for participating in the Slovak National Uprising in 1944.
After more than three decades, Viliam Pačes and Milan Antolík were awarded. During an accident in Jaslovské Bohunice nuclear power plant in 1976, the pair risked their lives by entering the reactor chamber to shut it off. They were awarded with the Milan Rastislav Štefánik Cross. The same award went to Gabriela Korytárová, who saved five children from a burning house in 2006.
Legendary goalkeeper and three-time world champion Vladimír Dzurilla was awarded posthumously with the Pribina Cross First Class. The same decoration was given to historian Anton Spiesz and neurosurgeon Juraj Steno.
The Pribina Cross Second Class for extraordinary cultural contribution went to musicologist and university teacher Ladislav Burlas; Pavol Dubinský, for contributions to the country's socio-economic development; and Anton Droppa, for contributions to speleology and geography.
Among other awardees were historian Pavol Dvořák, Bratislava district Nové Mesto Mayor Richard Frimmel, Nina Hollá for her contribution to Slovak associations in America, economist Štefan Kassay, linguist Milan Majtán, opera singer Ondrej Malachovský, writer Dušan Roll, doctor and teacher Anton Miroslav Sasinka and Božidara Turzonovová, the well-known actress and first Dean of Performing Arts at the Arts Academy in Banská Bystrica.
Folklorist Viliam Ján Grusko and ethnographer Michal Smajda, an observer of the life of Ruthenians and Ukrainians, were awarded the Pribina Cross Third Class as well. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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2. Jan 2008 at 17:30