After several weeks of various events, exhibitions and talks, the celebrations of the Velvet Revolution culminated on November 17. Gatherings took place around Slovakia, complete with songs, speeches and the sound of ringing keys.
While the Freedom Square in Bratislava was the venue of the For a Decent Slovakia protest gathering, the nearby SNP Square had been booked by Igor Matovič, leader of opposition OĽaNO, since August. Leaders of democratic opposition parties and personalities of the Velvet Revolution took to the stage in SNP Square. They talked about the upcoming election. Thousands of people participated.
Guests from the neighbouring Visegrad Four countries gathered under the Devín Castle around the Gate of Freedom memorial that recalls all the victims of the totalitarian regime. They laid wreaths and honoured the victims who died in an attempt to escape through the Iron Curtain.
Democracy is an opportunity
President Zuzana Čaputová held a speech at the evening event of the Slovak National Theatre.
“Those who expected the changes in 1989 to bring new opportunities live to see them. Those who expected it would automatically mean changes for the better must experience disappointment. Democracy is an opportunity, not a guarantee of success. It is on us how we deal with this opportunity after 30 years. Democracy needs our attention, memory, engagement and ability to cooperate, to be worthy of November’s message, not merely an autumn commemorative ceremony,” she said in her speech.
Pellegrini made a speech on the public television RTVS where he said that nobody has the right to appropriate November 17. He also emphasised the need for a responsible attitude toward modern changes, along with greater cohesiveness and common trust.
A day before, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová and Czech President Miloš Zeman met at Prepoštská Street in Bratislava to ceremonially open Czech House, which should broaden the scope of activities for Czechs living in Slovakia.
Čaputová said before the opening of the Czech House that November 17 and all the changes that followed were the common victories of citizens of former Czechoslovakia. It was a demonstration of how solidarity and cooperation could lead to huge and amazing change, she added.
18. Nov 2019 at 13:06 | Compiled by Spectator staff