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Slavín War Memorial drew hundreds

Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov, Slovak President Andrej Kiska, representatives of the Slovak government, WWII veterans and others commemorated 6,845 men and women buried at the Slavín War Memorial on April 4, the day when Bratislava was liberated. The commemoration also drew the attention of hundreds of people, of whom some held anti-NATO banners. 

Commemorations at the Slavín War Memorial.(Source: Sme)

Slavín doesn’t commemorate an ideology, but victory and courage, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said in his speech during a wreath-laying ceremony in remembrance of the Soviet soldiers who were killed in the battle to liberate Bratislava towards the end of WWII.

“This is to express thanks to those who sacrificed their lives to save the lives of our parents, of us and our children,” said Prime Minister Robert Fico as cited by the TASR newswire, adding that to lay down one’s life for others remains an act of courage in any historical period.

Also speaking at the event, Lavrov extended his gratitude to the Slovak cabinet for preserving the commemoration in remembrance of the fallen soldiers and for maintaining their tombs at Slavín. Lavrov added that Russia and Slovakia share views on warfare and that the world must do its utmost to prevent another episode of bloodshed of the scale of WWII.

“We aim to prevent such things from happening ever again and at making sure that the UN retains its central role in overseeing security in the world,” said Lavrov. “We set our sights on ensuring that no one tries to dominate in the world, subordinating others against their own will.

Later on Lavrov decorated Slovak WWII veterans with commemorative medals.

Some hundreds of people watched the ceremony at Slavín, waving with Slovak and Russian flags. Some activists held also flags protesting against NATO. They welcomed speeches by PM Fico and Minsiter Lavrov with applauds.

President Andje Kiska commemorated men and women buried at Slavín before the official ceremony attended by Lavrov and Fico.

After meeting Lavrov, Kiska set off for Bratislava’s Slavín memorial and military cemetery to commemorate the 6,845 men and women buried at the site.

Speaking after a meeting with Minister Lavrov, Kiska emphasised that people in Slovakia understand the essential role played by the Red Army in the liberation of the country and that Slovakia isn’t interested in twisting facts pertaining to its history.

“And this will remain as it is. There is no interest whatsoever in Slovakia, no predisposition or tendencies towards twisting historical facts,” stressed President Kiska, partly referring to his recent decision to decline an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the official celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII in Moscow.

The president revealed that his talks with Lavrov also broached the topic of recent developments in Ukraine. Kiska told the Russian politician that Slovakia doesn’t view the situation in Ukraine as only a distant geopolitical theory.

“The years 1938 and 1968 are a painful part of our recent history,” said Kiska, adding that the way in which Crimea was annexed last year is viewed as a serious destabilisation of post-WWII relations and a violation of the principles of international law. “It’s also a breach of an extraordinary obligation of the Russian Federation made in Budapest in December 1994, in which Ukraine pledged to give up its nuclear weapons, and the USA, Great Britain and the Russian Federation, for their part, pledged to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine within its valid borders.”

The president went on to say that smaller countries in particular, including Slovakia, and those with historical experience of annexation consider such acts to be unacceptable. 

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