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Kiska did not attend commemorative concert due to presence of fascists

President Andrej Kiska refused to participate in the concert commemorating the Candle Manifestation as extremists of the ĽSNS party were invited; the Slovak Bishops Conference argued they invited MPs of all parties.

L-R: Founder of the Nenápadní Hrdinovia /Low-key Heroes project František Neupauer, ex-president of Federal German Republic Joachim Gauck, and Slovak president Andrej Kiska attending the How WE Treat Our Freedom conference, March 25, Bratislava.(Source: SITA)

The commemorative concert marking the 30th anniversary of the Candle Manifestation in Bratislava, taking place on March 25 in the Reduta building of the Slovak Philharmonic and organised by the Slovak Bishops Conference (KBS) was not attended by Slovak President Andrej Kiska.

He refused to take part in the event – where he was originally slated to hold an address – because the KBS also invited representatives of the far-right People’s Party – Our Slovakia (ĽSNS) to the event, its chairman and MP Marian Kotleba, and another MP, Milan Uhrík, the Sme daily wrote.

President’s reasons for absence

The president “deemed the invitation of fascists to a commemorative concert an exceptionally unfortunate way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of this important event”, as his spokesperson Roman Krpelan informed.

The commemoration of the Candle Manifestation is a celebration of freedom, democracy and people’s courage, Krpelan added, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

The ĽSNS responded by stating that Kiska likes to talk about tolerance but he himself is not capable of tolerating somebody even in the case of commemorative events.

Slovak Bishops strike back

The Church is not a political organisation; when it invites public officials to participate in events, it does not do politics, the KBS told TASR in response to President Andrej Kiska’s decision.

“We usually invite representatives of all parties that have been elected to parliament,” KBS spokesman Martin Kramara said, as quoted by TASR, adding that the KBS invited the president to speak and the legislators to listen. “The message of this event is to highlight the value of hard-won freedom and clearly condemn all dictatorial regimes, such as communism, fascism and nationalism.”

Read also:Candle Manifestation 1988: We went into it like innocent children

For his part, Kiska held tribute to the Candle Manifestation on March 25, through an address at the conference called How We Treat Our Freedom, and then by visiting the monument commemorating the Candle Manifestation in Bratislava, together with former president of the Federative Republic of Germany, Joachim Gauck, according to Sme. Kiska will bestow an order on Gauck on March 26.

What was the Candle Manifestation about

Slovakia commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Candle Manifestation, one of the crucial public display of revolt against the communist regime in former Czechoslovakia, on March 25, the SITA newswire wrote. The peaceful meeting of believers calling for civil and religious freedoms ended with a harsh police action, including beating, water cannons and arrests.

Read also:ORF reporter: I was surprised by how many Slovaks had such courage

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