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On Friday, 26 April 2024, Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice had the honour of welcoming the President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová, who held a discussion on the topic of freedom and democracy with students of Slovak studies and media and political science at the Faculty of Arts of the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice.

The President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová, was welcomed in front of the University by Rector of UPJŠ, professor Daniel Pella, MD, PhD., and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, professor Renáta Panocová, PhD., who escorted the Head of the State to the crowded historical auditorium.
The topics of the discussion with future media workers and future political scientists were freedom and democracy. “Democracy is not a finale, it is a process. It is a process of learning first and foremost, an experience that must be confirmed by living, thinking, speaking and acting,” the President of the Republic answered the question of why it is necessary to fight for freedom and democracy. She added that democracy is not an autopilot that we set and fly in the desired position and course. “Democracy requires our commitment, our participation, our interest in public affairs, because it is fragile and we can lose it.”

Part of democracy is freedom in all its forms, but it goes hand in hand with responsibility. “I totally disagree with the interpretation of freedom as boundless and infinite. All freedom ends where the freedom and legitimate interests of someone else begin,” warned the President Zuzana Čaputová.
Students present at the discussion were also interested in how to communicate with people who do not want freedom because it is not their priority. “I agree with you that the central issue of how to overcome the fragmentation and polarisation of society is dialogue. I will tell you my personal reflection on how I try to approach this. I do not force myself into a dialogue with someone who does not want to have a dialogue, or who only pretends to be interested. At the same time, it is necessary that I also approach dialogue in a way that I want to listen and perceive. If there is no interest in dialogue, it should not lead me to condemn the other person,” responded the President of the Slovak Republic Zuzana Čaputová.

Marián Gladiš, UPJŠ Faculty of Arts
Photographs: Kristína Basová and Tomáš Polák, UPJŠ Faculty of Arts

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