Lech Walesa thanks Slovakia’s VPN for its struggle for democracy

It is hard to say how the struggle for democracy in central Europe would have ended more than twenty years ago if the popular Slovak movement, Public Against Violence (VPN), had not taken part, said Lech Walesa at a meeting in Bratislava with former VPN leaders on November 17 to mark the 21st anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia, the SITA newswire wrote.

It is hard to say how the struggle for democracy in central Europe would have ended more than twenty years ago if the popular Slovak movement, Public Against Violence (VPN), had not taken part, said Lech Walesa at a meeting in Bratislava with former VPN leaders on November 17 to mark the 21st anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia, the SITA newswire wrote.

Walesa, a former Polish president, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1983 further said he came to thank the VPN. Walesa said that events of 1989 should be an encouragement today. "So that our grandchildren do not say that we were [only] good at demolition, but also at building something new."

Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová took up his words. She said she believes the promise of November 1989 will be fulfilled and that truth and love would triumph. One of the founders of VPN, Ján Budaj, in turn thanked Lech Walesa for his contribution to toppling communism in central Europe. He called Walesa’s free trade union movement Solidarity, where a strike in 1980 at Gdansk shipyard indirectly triggered the collapse of the Eastern bloc, an icebreaker.

The Slovak Culture Ministry, which is located a few meters from the centre of events of November 1989, hosted this meeting of several persons who had addressed the gathered masses during the Velvet Revolution 21 years ago. On Wednesday, the group adopted a declaration called 20+, which presents their vision for future years. It was read by actor Matej Landl, SITA wrote.

The leaders of November 1989 also noted that problems brought about by dramatic
social changes cannot be overlooked. The time after the Velvet Revolution has brought substantial weakening of social cohesion, growth of nationalism and intolerance, new forms of misuse of power, corruption, and new threats to democracy.

The popular movement called Public Against Violence (VPN) was the leading democratic political force that influenced change in Slovakia between November 1989 and 1992. Its founders were Milan Kňažko, Ján Budaj, Fedor Gál, Peter Zajac, and Martin Bútora among others. It was the governing party in Slovakia from 1990 to 1992 but in the election in 1992 it did not reach the 5 percent limit to get into parliament.

Source: SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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