SLOVAK Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák and his Hungarian counterpart, Kinga Göncz, presented awards to former Slovak culture minister and Czechoslovak ambassador to Hungary Rudolf Chmel and the mayor of the Hungarian village of Hejce, Géza Rohály, for being good neighbours when it comes to Slovak-Hungarian relations, the Sme daily reported.
The ‘Good Neighbourliness and Understanding Awards’ were presented for the first time this year on March 24. Each award includes a financial prize of €2,000. The two award recipients were chosen from among 45 nominees.
“We have established a good tradition and we have set the standards very high from the very beginning,” Sme quoted Lajčák as saying.
The Hungarian village of Hejce received the award for the help given by its citizens after a tragic accident in January 2006 when a Slovak aircraft carrying soldiers home from the KFOR peace-keeping mission in Kosovo crashed near the village. Only 43 people survived the accident and the people of Hejce bravely offered their help to the rescue teams and later to the families of the soldiers who died, the TASR newswire wrote.
The Slovak recipient, Rudolf Chmel, who celebrated his 70th birthday this year, appreciated the fact that he received the award from Kinga Göncz, the daughter of his friend and former Hungarian president Arpád Göncz. He suggested that a Foundation for Slovak-Hungarian Future be established to support artistic, cultural and sporting activities for a new generation of Slovaks and Hungarians who will no longer live with the problems of the past as current generations do. He also expressed his hope that Göncz and Lajčák will be awarded the same honour 20 years from now, TASR reported.