Pellegrini in Budapest Visits Bielik’s Exhibition on 1968 Occupation

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Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini in Budapest visiting an exhibition of the work of Slovak photographer Ladislav Bielik concerning the occupation of Bratislava by Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968 (photo by TASR)

Budapest, June 12 (TASR) – At the end of his one-day official visit to Budapest on Tuesday, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) visited an exhibition of the work of Slovak photographer Ladislav Bielik (1939-1984) that involves large-scale photographs depicting moments from the occupation of Bratislava by Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968.

The exhibition in front of Keleti Palyaudvar railway station was prepared by the Slovak Embassy in Budapest, the Czech Embassy in Budapest and the Slovak Institute in Budapest.

“This year is a year in which we’re marking events that happened in years that ended in the number 8, and we can’t turn a blind eye to events such as August 1968,” said the prime minister, referring to the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia on the night of August 20–21, 1968 that suppressed the communist-era reformist process known as the Prague Spring.

Pellegrini pointed out that it’s the first time that this kind of format has been used to present what happened in Slovakia in August 1968. In addition to Hungary, the exhibition will visit all of the countries whose troops took part in the occupation of Czechoslovakia as part of the Warsaw Pact, namely Russia (as a successor state of the Soviet Union), Bulgaria, Hungary, (East) Germany and Poland.

“This shouldn’t be viewed as a provocation; it’s about showing truthfully and authentically what it was like in Bratislava and in other cities in Slovakia in August 1968. I think it’s right for the countries around us to understand and perhaps commemorate the events that moulded Slovakia and Czechoslovakia in 1968,” said Pellegrini.

In 2018, Slovaks and Czechs are marking the 100th anniversary of the setting up of an independent Czechoslovakia, the 50th anniversary of the Prague Spring and the 25th anniversary of the founding of two independent states – Slovakia and the Czech Republic.