Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Baška on May 22 took part in a ceremony commemorating the 90th anniversary of the 1918 ceremony in Rome which recognised the combat flag of the Czechoslovak Legions. Baška took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier at the Altar of the Fatherland in Venice Square in Rome to mark the May 24, 1918, flag presentation which was attended by Slovak General Milan Rastislav Štefánik and which later came to be seen as one of the first incarnations of the first republic of Czechoslovakia (formed six month later), the TASR newswire wrote.
Baška also laid a wreath at the M.R. Štefánik memorial plaque in the Generali Building, 100 metres from the Altar of the Fatherland, where he also gave a speech. The Czechoslovak Legions were volunteer armed forces who fought against Germany and Austro-Hungary (of which both nations were at the time an unwilling part) during the First World War, in order to secure their independence. They were key to diplomatic acknowledgement of Czechs and Slovaks as a part of a united nation fighting on the side of the allies - France, Great Britain, Russia, the USA and Italy - in WWI. The legions' participation in fights in France, Russia and Italy significantly contributed to the recognition of Czechoslovakia as an independent state in 1918.
At talks about establishing the Czechoslovak Legion, Śtefánik told the Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Orlando that “he asked for nothing more than the permission for our people to die for their ideals.” After his speech, Štefánik was hailed as the one-day king of Rome by the Italian press. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
23. May 2008 at 9:00