Fico: Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Mean Using Fascist Salute

Smer-SD head Robert Fico during the ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising in Banska Bystrica (photo by TASR)

Banska Bystrica, August 29 (TASR) – It’s insane that 73 years after the Slovak National Uprising (SNP), since the time when we drove the ‘Nazis’ away, there is a building near the SNP memorial where people use a fascist greeting to each other and the country accepts this as if it was in order, stated Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) in Banska Bystrica on Tuesday.

[Members of the far-right People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) are said to use the greeting ‘Na stráž!’ (on guard!) at their offices. The same salute was used by Slovak fascists during WWII. – ed. note]

Speaking at the main ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the Slovak anti-fascist resistance during WWII, the premier publicly called on the law enforcement authorities to do their best to prevent similar non-democratic demonstrations.

Fico went on to say that Slovakia is among the most liberal and democratic countries in the world to such extent that everyone does whatever they want, without any responsibility.

“We have freedom of speech, but it doesn’t mean that someone can walk around giving the Nazi salute, celebrating Hitler and similar fascists,” said the premier. He noted that the wartime Slovak state was a satellite of Nazi Germany and a state in which members of the pro-Nazi Hlinka Guard used to greet each other with the ‘Na stráž!’ salute in offices. Worst of all, many of them were Slovaks who helped the fascists to carry out murders and thus participated in the most terrible tragedies during WWII, said Fico.

The Slovak premier also said in his speech that the SNP is the most important event in the history of the Slovak nation and that many Slovaks nowadays take the peace in which they have lived for so many years for granted. According to Fico, this achievement should be respected much more.

At the very beginning of his speech, Fico apologised to the participants in the commemorative ceremony for the loud demonstrations of disapproval of a certain group of people that came to the SNP memorial. “No one has ever misused the SNP’s sacred place. Shame on you, gentlemen from [Opposition party] OLaNO, for grossly abusing the official SNP ceremony,” he said.

OLaNO earlier in the day disassociated itself from the demonstrations. “The party didn’t organise any protests in Banska Bystrica,” reads the party’s statement.