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“The events of autumn 1938 remind us that yielding to evil is a way to hell“. (Ministry of Foreign & European Affairs, Slovak Republic, 28-9-2018)
Statement from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic: “Statement of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs on the 80-year anniversary of the Munich Agreement and the First Vienna Award 28.9.2018 | Vyhlásenia a stanoviská ministerstva
This year commemorates not only positive events but also more sorrowful ones. The latter include the 80th anniversaries of the Munich Agreement and the First Vienna Award. On 30 September 1938, Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, France and the United Kingdom signed an agreement in Munich that led to large parts of Bohemia and Moravia being surrendered to Germany. Subsequently, on 2 November 1938 in Vienna, foreign ministers of Germany and Italy – Joachim von Ribbentrop and Galeazzo Ciano – assigned extensive parts of Slovakia’s territory to Hungary, Poland and Germany. These events contributed to the breakdown of interwar Czechoslovakia and paved the way for Nazi expansion, which eventually led to World War II.
Europe and Slovakia have learned our lesson and are in an entirely different position now. In autumn 1938, the doors to the negotiating room remained closed and the decision about Slovakia was made without our participation. Today, owing to our membership in the EU, the Council of Europe and OSCE, we are sitting at the main European negotiating table. In 1938, we were left alone while superpowers opted for the so-called appeasement – the duplicitous policy of making concessions.
Today, with our NATO membership, we are part of the strongest military alliance in the world which honours the rule “one for all, all for one”. The rivalry among Central European countries has been successfully replaced with an atmosphere of trust, a quest for common interests and cooperation – embodied, among other things, in the activities of the Visegrad group. The borders, which both the Munich Agreement and the Vienna Award put into question, are now crossed without obstructions and controls, thanks to our membership in the Schengen area. This is the Europe Slovakia claims allegiance to.
However, Europe is now also witnessing the dangerous revival of spectres we thought were a thing of the past. Resurgence of ideologies of hate, expressions of political extremism, racial and minority hatred – all these are sources of the latest tragic war cataclysm – relativize and erode the values that lie in the foundations of the European peace project. This is why we have to defend these values together, more than ever before. The events of autumn 1938 remind us that yielding to evil is a way to hell. The Munich Agreement and the following Vienna Award are a historical memento clearly telling us what the consequences would be of a policy aimed at short-term gains and abusing ethnic minorities in order to undermine the sovereignty and integrity of European countries. In the end, it made suffer the most the very people who initially believed they were historic winners.
The Munich Agreement and Vienna Award remind us of how important it is to have a stable security environment in order to have duly working international law, to be in the centre of international action and to have reliable and trustworthy allies. It is still a challenge to promote the respecting of principles of relationships between countries defined in the UN Charter and in the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
© Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic” https://www.mzv.sk/web/en/news/current_issues/-/asset_publisher/lrJ2tDuQdEKp/content/vyhlasenie-mzvaez-sr-k-80-vyrociu-mnichovskej-dohody-a-prvej-viedenskej-arbitraze/10182 (Emphasis our own.)
Madeleine Albright was born in Prague Czechoslovakia on May 15, 1937: