IN 1989 unity was one of the characteristic feelings on the squares of Czech and Slovak towns during the Velvet Revolution. Two decades later, Slovak public and political life seems far from that ideal – as the celebrations of 20 years of freedom have shown.
The official event to commemorate the anniversary was held in the new building of the Slovak National Theatre and organised by the speaker of parliament, Pavol Paška. Speakers included leaders of the revolution such as former students Zuzana Mistríková and Filip Vagač, and former dissidents František Mikloško, Martin Bútora and Ján Čarnogurský. The speaker of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, also delivered a speech. Paška was criticised for having also invited speakers who were connected with the Communist regime, such as former president Rudolf Schuster and Communist Party justice minister and Slovak prime minister after November 1989 Milan Čič.
Six representatives of the Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) who attended the celebrations walked out of the room before Čič and Schuster spoke. Opposition parties held a separate event in the historical building of the Slovak National Theatre.
Prime Minister Robert Fico spent part of November 17 on an official visit to London, where he also delivered a lecture at University College London. He was earlier criticised for leaving the country on such a day.
Many plaques were unveiled, concerts and commemorative events were organised all around Slovakia. In Bratislava, the 20th anniversary of the revolution was also marked by an international conference, the Central European Forum, where former president Václav Havel spoke to the Slovak public.
23. Nov 2009 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani