Danko: We Must Draw Lesson from History of 1968, Not Quarrel about It

Parliamentary Chairman Andrej Danko (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, August 21 (TASR) – Every Slovak must clearly and unanimously condemn the tragic end of the Prague Spring and the invasion of our territory by troops from five countries of the Warsaw Pact on August 21, 1968, said Parliamentary Chairman and Slovak National Party (SNS) leader Andrej Danko on TABLET.TV on Tuesday.

We must draw a lesson from history rather than try to polarise people based on it, stated Danko. “It was a difficult period, and there’s a need to have a clear attitude towards it. However, what is typical for us is that people who were really instrumental to the [Normalisation] regime now often pretend to be the biggest heroes of that period,” said the parliamentary chairman.
According to Danko, Slovakia experienced hard times for several decades in a row – first came WWII, then the rise of communism in 1948 and the political trials of the 1950s. “Then came a period of  relief in which persecuted people were released, along with the will for a change in society. However, this was suppressed,” said Danko in connection with the events of August 1968.
There was an effort for democracy, for a change in the system that ruled here. On the other hand, there was the will of other countries who came to intervene in our development,” said the SNS leader.
Troops from the Soviet Union, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) joined the operation called ‘Danube’ in 1968. According to Danko, political opinions defending the invasion sometimes appear even today, but these are just the voices of individuals. “Countries of the former Warsaw Pact have repeatedly apologised to us via their officials,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yugoslavia, for example, didn’t join in the invasion. “When visiting Josip Tito’s grave during my trip to Serbia I wrote in the visitors’ book that we thank them for standing by us and not betraying us in 1968,” noted Danko.
Danko will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the events of August 1968 several times. In the morning he laid a wreath at the Faculty of Law of Comenius University on Safarik Square in Bratislava. “It wasn’t the first time that I laid a wreath to the memory of the young people who died there,” he noted.
“In the afternoon I’m due to meet Peter Bielik, the son of the famous photographer [Ladislav Bielik] who took the famous picture [of a man baring his chest to an invading tank] on Safarik Square. In the evening I’m scheduled to meet Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak and our diplomatic corps. I’ll host them on behalf of the Slovak president, and I want to thank them for the job that they’ve been doing for Slovakia abroad,” said Danko.
In this context he said that he views it important to develop good relations at the level of parliament with EU and NATO countries, as well as other countries such as Russia and Israel. “I’m not pursuing pro-Russian, but pro-Slovak politics. And in pro-Slovak politics you must have a good relationship with everyone,” said Danko in connection with the speech that he gave in Russia’s State Duma last year.