Bratislava, Sept 18 (CTK) – Apprehensions of corruption undermining the rule of law principles persist in Slovakia, as not much has changed in practice in spite of the government’s replacement in the spring, an EP delegation head Sophia in ‘t Veld said at close of their two-day mission to Slovakia today.
Talking to journalists, she indirectly criticised controversial personnel reshuffles such as the hiring of Tibor Gaspar, who resigned as Slovak police chief after the still uncleared February murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, as an adviser to both the Slovak and the Czech interior ministers.
In ‘Veld said the MEPs noticed certain things during their mission that filled them with apprehensions. There are symptoms of corruption, which undermines the attributes of a law-abiding state.
In ‘t Veld spoke of an obviously lacking pro-active approach to uncovering corruption in Slovakia.
This was the MEPs’ second mission to Slovakia since the murder of Kuciak and his fiancee, which was linked to his work as an investigative journalist, according to the Slovak Prosecutor’s Office.
Before his death, Kuciak focused on links between then PM Robert Fico’s aides and an entrepreneur whom media described as close to mafia.
The murder case triggered a political crisis in Slovakia, and Fico (Smer-Social Democrats chairman) resigned amid mass demonstrations in March. However, most members of the new cabinet, led by Smer-SD deputy chairman and former deputy PM Peter Pellegrini, are former members of the Fico cabinet.
In ‘t Veld said efforts to solve the situation do exist in Slovakia, but [the state] shows no unambiguous effort to distance itself from what happened in the past.
A connection with organised crime must be punished, she said.
She criticised the fact that following a forced-upon departure from their posts, Slovak institutions’ representatives often each switch to another post.
They are always the same people who reappear on the scene. A line under the past must be drawn, she said.
For instance, Gaspar, the former Slovak police president whose departure was also demanded by the demonstrators in the wake of Kuciak’s murder, became, after stepping down, an adviser to the interior ministers in Slovakia and the neighbouring Czech Republic, she said.
In ‘t Veld also mentioned the case of Bratislava’s suspected involvement in the abduction of former Vietnamese Communist official Trinh Xuan Thanha from Germany to Vietnam, partly aboard a Slovak government plane.
In mid-2017, the Slovak government provided its plane to a Vietnamese delegation, which had met then interior minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD) in Bratislava, for them to fly from Prague to Bratislava and further to Moscow. Kalinak, who is no longer a member of the cabinet, has dismissed Slovakia’s involvement in the abduction.
The EP delegation will now leave for a similar mission to Malta, where reporter Daphne Caruan Galizi was murdered last year.