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Slovak politicians criticise Zeman for statements on Dubček

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Bratislava, Jan 10 (CTK) – Slovak Culture Minister Marek Madaric and Foreign Affairs State Secretary Ivan Korcok have criticised Czech President Milos Zeman’s words about reform Communist leader Alexander Dubcek behaving cowardly after the 1968 invasion, they said in statements released to CTK on Wednesday.

Dubcek chickened out of horror after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968 that crushed the Prague Spring communist-led reform movement, Zeman said in his speech at a ceremony at Prague Castle within the celebrations of the 100-year anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s birth and 25 years of the establishment of the Czech Republic on Tuesday night.

“I personally protest against the expressive, degrading statements by the president of the Czech Republic, Milos Zeman, about Alexander Dubcek that he pronounced in his official address at Prague Castle,” said Madaric, who was deputy head of the senior government Smer-Social Democracy (Smer-SD) of PM Robert Fico until last December.

People respect Slovak-born Dubcek mainly for having enabled the democratisation process which culminated in the Prague Spring movement in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s, Madaric said.

“Let us not make illusions about any politicians. Even the greatest personalities have their weak sides and moments. However, I consider it extremely inappropriate and impolite to stress exactly such moments on a solemn occasion,” Maderic added.

Korcok called Zeman’s words improper. There are certain limits that cannot be exceeded, he said after the government meeting that approved the status of the commission to assess proposed candidates for the state award bearing Dubcek’s name.

Zeman said in his speech that one should think hard about why there was only one courageous man, Frantisek Kriegel, among the then political elites after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops and “why all the others chickened out of horror.”

Kriegel (1908-1979), member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia’s presidium, was the sole of the top representatives deported to Moscow after the invasion who refused to sign the Moscow Protocol dictate in the Kremlin.

Zeman said their consent to the occupation had not helped the representatives.

“First, these idols were given the post of the Federal Assembly (Communist parliament) chairman, then they only went down to the post of ambassador to Turkey and then not even that,” Zeman said hinting at Dubcek.

Dubcek (1921-1992), one of the main representatives of the reform stream within then Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC) in 1968, resigned as the KSC first secretary after the revival process was suppressed and later was expelled from the party. He returned to political life after the 1989 Velvet Revolution and became the speaker of Czechoslovak parliament. He succumbed to the injuries he suffered in a road accident in 1992.

Slovak PM Fico also attended the ceremony at Prague Castle last night, but unlike Madaric, he did not raise objections to Zeman’s statements, the portal reported.

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