Heger: Freedom Not Enough, Respect and Tolerance Needed as Well

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Prime Minister Eduard Heger (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 17 (TASR) – Freedom in and of itself is not enough if it’s not embedded in values required for a democratic society to function, Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OLaNO) declared in a televised address to the nation broadcast by RTVS on the occasion of the 32nd anniversary of the Velvet Revolution on Wednesday.

In the face of the current situation, Heger called for cooperation and calm dialogue. He underlined that opinions must be formed on the back of mutual understanding.

“A culture of respect means that in political competition we don’t stir up emotions that fuel hatred in people and have the potential to escalate into violence,” said the prime minister, adding that Slovakia has bad historical experience with extremism, which always leads into dead ends.

Heger emphasised that the novel coronavirus pandemic poses a great danger, especially for the elderly and infirm, and it’s people’s duty to take protective measures against it.

He voiced the hope that Slovak society at its core is healthy and hasn’t renounced values such as solidarity, compassion and mutual respect. The fact that the issue of vaccination has been infused with politics and ideology means that “we’ve set out on a path that will cost us many needless deaths”.

Because of this, Heger urged Slovaks to stifle their passions, animosity and contempt for opposing opinions.

“Victory over the pandemic must first take shape in our ways of thinking. It doesn’t lie in malice and disarray,” he stated, asking what kind of society Slovaks will form when the pandemic is over.

As for the demands set out by November ’89, it’s taken 32 years for Slovakia to come close to independence of courts and the prosecution service and the creation of a geniune rule of law.

Heger warned that Slovakia faces a fight with “enemies of the rule of law”, and its outcome will determine the fate of the country. He hopes that Slovakia will make the right choice and start out on the right path.