SLOVAKIA marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on September 9. Gatherings took place in Bratislava and Zvolen. “I am sorry that today an atmosphere for stimulation of intolerance is being created knowingly or unknowingly in the parliament,” Slovakia’s President Ivan Gašparovič said at the Holocaust Memorial at Rybné Square in Bratislava on Tuesday, the SITA newswire wrote. He was referring to recent allegedly anti-Semitic statements made in parliament by Justice Minister Štefan Harabin and HZDS leader Vladimír Mečiar."We must eliminate such acts from public life. Racism and intolerance do not belong to social life", said Gašparovič.
The head of state, along with Prime Minister Robert Fico, Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška, cabinet members, MPs and diplomatic representatives, honoured the memory of victims of the Holocaust and of racial violence in a wreath-laying ceremony. According to the president, it is the role of public officials and citizens not just to remember, but above all to shape the public environment such that it will not permit intolerance, especially ethnic intolerance, to re-establish itself in society.
"Intolerance, racism, xenophobic displays in the form of morbid state doctrines from the times of World War II suffered defeat, but even today we can see attempts at their revival," President Gašparovič said. He said he thinks that the young generation no longer understands the term Holocaust and warned that if there is human indifference and passivity in our behaviour, "conditions for what our fellow citizens have already lived through" will be created. "Our primary duty is not only to talk, but to act against this violence," he emphasised. Respect for the values of freedom and democracy and an active fight against racism and intolerance should be the basis for this, he stated.
In Zvolen, near the local Jewish cemetery, Prime Minster Fico and Israeli Ambassador to Slovakia Zeev Boker unveiled the foundation stone of a Park of Noble Souls. It will be dedicated to Slovak citizens who rescued Jews from deportation to concentration camps.
The park has been designed by architect Martin Kvasnica, who also designed the Chatam Sofer Memorial in Bratislava.
15. Sep 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports