PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič is convinced that his successor, to be chosen by the public in March 2014, needs to possess some political experience.

“It’s not necessary for him to be a member of a political party, but he does need to make clear which party he agrees with or doesn’t,” Gašparovič said as quoted by the TASR newswire. “He can’t be in some kind of vacuum, as if his line of thinking and orientation has nothing to do with any existing party.”

Gašparovič also believes that few candidates for the top post stand a realistic chance of being elected without the support of some political party. He called such an attempt nonsense.

The president refused to evaluate any of the 16 registered candidates. He did say, however, that the President’s Office is no place for people without prior political experience who would have to undergo a baptism of fire.

“The president needs to be a politician with developed contacts and familiarity not only with the domestic scene but also with foreign affairs,” the President said. “He or she needs to be able to make a phone call with a president of a neighbouring country and get things done. I believe there is such a candidate, one known by the whole world and the whole of Europe, so Slovakia will have few problems when making its choice in the election.”

Gašparovič stressed, however, that there is a difference between being a member of political party and upholding its philosophy and values. In 2009, he ran as a civil candidate with the support of Smer.

“Yes, I’m supported by Smer and I’m quite glad,” he emphasised, adding that he served as a non-partisan president during his two terms. “I said publicly than I’m almost like a Smer member, and everyone was quick to say that I’m affiliated with that party.”

Gašparovič rejects these claims and professes to share only the philosophy and political orientation of Smer, particularly with respect to social issues.

“And that’s a huge difference,” he added.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports
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