The courage to fight for democracy

Authoritarian societies squander the possibilities of human achievement, of lives lived to their fullest, writes the US ambassador to Slovakia.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: SME)

As Slovakia marks the Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy on November 17, we should pause to consider the ongoing relevance of the protests of 1989 and the Velvet Revolution.

Ordinary Slovak and Czech students, later joined by their fellow citizens, courageously took to the streets to protest Soviet-backed authoritarianism and call for democracy and sovereignty. It was the student protests of 1989 and the subsequent revolution that paved the way for democratic reforms and for Slovakia’s return to the Western community of democracies, ushering in an era of unprecedented peace, stability, prosperity, and sovereignty for the Slovak people.

While celebrating the courage of the protesters, particularly the success of the Velvet Revolution, we must also remember that the struggle for freedom and democracy did not end with the collapse of Communism, with the establishment of an independent Slovakia, or even with Slovakia’s successful integration into the European Union and NATO. Citizens of free, democratic states must carefully safeguard, constantly renew, and continually perfect their societies.

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