Svatopluk statue to stay if cross is changed

The disputed cross

Parliamentary chairman Richard Sulik (SaS) announced the decision of the special committee set up do decide the fate of the controversial statue of King Svatopluk at Bratislava Castle.

They have decided just to leave it in place for now, under the condition that the disputed cross on the shield and the inscription are altered.

The statue has become the centre of debate, as it bears the cross of the famous Hlinka Guard instead the Slovak cross, and because some feel that its historical accuracy and symbolism are not exactly appropriate. Various groups therefore demanded its removal.

Sulik said that he saw no point in moving the statue just now and that it would stay where it was until the castle is refurbished, as moving the statue would complicate this work and the statue could be damaged into the bargain. He expects the decision to meet with some resistance, but overall the debate should fizzle out slowly.

In addition to changing the cross to the standard double-barred Slovak cross, the text stating that Svatopluk was the ruler of ancient Slovaks will also be changed just to Svatopluk, with the dates of his reign. This is chiefly because he ruled these lands about two hundred years before the Slovak identity even came into existence.

Dusan Jarjabek (Smer-SD), who played an important role in having the statue erected at the castle, is obviously pleased with the decision, although he finds it sad that they are going to change the inscription about ancient Slovaks, because he insists they did exist and had their own king.

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