General Milan Rastislav Štefánik acted in critical moments as a statesman, President Zuzana Čaputová said about this Slovak diplomat and astronomer at a ceremony commemorating 140 years since his birth.
“To achieve the freedom of his nation, he went to the limits of self-sacrifice,” she said in Košariská (Trenčín Region), where Štefánik was born on July 21, 1880.
He always did what he considered his moral duty because “he felt responsible for the people he had acquired for his historical dream,” Čaputová continued.
“We need to remind ourselves more often how Štefánik understood democracy - as an obligation to think about whether we do not harm our neighbour, the nation, society, by our actions,” she added.
Therefore, politicians should not talk about but tackle problems, she emphasised in her speech. The president also encouraged people to act and live in the spirit of Štefánik’s legacy.
A great Slovak
The ceremony, held in his native house that now serves as the museum, was attended by PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO), Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina), and the representatives of Churches, local governments, various associations and organisations.
Matovič said the Slovak statesman, who co-founded Czechoslovakia after WWI, was the first Slovak European citizen to travel the world. But he always wanted to return home, he noted.
“His heart never stopped beating for Slovakia and he used his contacts, knowledge and ingenuity to help our ancestors in Slovakia create a country in which they will be able to live as a nation," Matovič said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
The well-being of the nation is paramount, because “our nation is our mirror and our future,” Kollár said during the ceremony.
He also reminded representatives of political power that sacrifices must be made for the nation and asked people to not give up on their right to change things for the better.
Štefánik as an inspiration
Several ministers have celebrated Štefánik's legacy on Facebook as well. They pointed out that despite his poor background, thanks to his hard work and determination he became one of the greatest Slovaks, also known outside Slovakia.
Štefánik remains an inspiration for his ability to navigate through the complex labyrinths of European politics, former PM Peter Pellegrini said.
“His diplomatic experience is an inspiration, showing us how to professionally represent the interests of a small nation in the world of power politics,” he added.
21. Jul 2020 at 20:10 | Compiled by Spectator staff