Bratislava, June 30 (TASR) – Slovak President Andrej Kiska and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda on Thursday commemorated the victims of communism who died trying to escape Czechoslovakia to Austria via the Morava River by laying wreaths at the Freedom Gate memorial in Devin near Bratislava, TASR learnt on the same day.
“I’m glad that the Polish president accepted my invitation to come to this place, which reminds us that it was difficult to gain freedom and democracy and that these values have to be fought for and protected even nowadays, every day, said Kiska.
Duda, who is on a two-day official visit to Slovakia, linked the site at Devin to the message of the anthem of Polish trade union and social movement Solidarity, in which death is chosen over a life spent on one’s knees.
“The fact that there’s no more Iron Curtain is a great achievement that we fought for,” said Duda. “It’s an opportunity to remember the values for which we wanted to join the free Europe,” he added.
The Polish president indicated that this should also be the role of Slovakia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU and of the Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Four/V4 group (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). [Both presidencies will be in place between July 1-December 31 of this year. – ed. note]
“Even in the context of Brexit we’re currently facing a huge challenge. Maybe we should think about whether it isn’t time to return to our roots, the fundamental values on which the idea of the European Union was founded,” said Duda.
Earlier in the day the Polish president met Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) to speak about the further strengthening of bilateral relations with emphasis on the field of economic cooperation and infrastructure. The two also discussed regional cooperation, current European issues in light of Slovakia’s upcoming EU Council presidency and preparations for the NATO summit that is due to take place in Warsaw in July.