We are living in hard times, going from one crisis to another, experiencing many negative impacts like the loss of our closest ones or employment, poverty and fear for our safety, said President Zuzana Čaputová in her February 23 address.
Even though many people might be frustrated and the fact that the state does not always help might result in anger, it should never turn to hatred as it is no solution.
“Especially in the past few weeks we can feel in our society that we’ve taken a path from which there might be no return,” the president said. “It leads only to physical attacks and rudeness in the public space. We can see that this has gone too far as people, who are doing their job with their best knowledge, cannot feel safe even in their own homes.”
The president was joined by more than 30 personalities from various spheres of life, and together they called for keeping decency a norm in Slovakia. This includes former diplomat Magda Vášaryová, former PM Iveta Radičová, Ombudswoman Mária Patakyová and expert on infectious diseases Vladimír Krčméry.
“The effort to intimidate or punish those with a different opinion is a departure from the area of democratic rules,” Čaputová continued. She adds that this is an attack on the cohesion of society and can indicate an effort to establish a non-democratic or even totalitarian regime. “Let’s say no to hatred in society together, while there is time. I’m convinced that decency must remain the norm in Slovakia.”
She stressed that society needs reconciliation, and we must do everything we can to achieve it. The difference in opinions might serve as an opportunity that should not be considered hostility, but a privilege of democracy.
“Democracy needs an active, pulsing civil society again,” the president continued. “Let’s have a dialogue in our neighbourhoods, communities and towns, and update our own arguments about who we are, where we belong, why we are democrats and why we appreciate our values.”
Čaputová also called on society not to lose hope.