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It’s complicated EDITORIAL “IT’S a very complicated issue,” Health Minister Viliam Čislák responded to a journalist’s question about whether it is possible to be competent while still violating the law. The journalists were grilling Čislák over Smer nominees signing overpriced catering contracts on behalf of state-owned hospitals with a pair of suspiciously intertwined companies. 15 Dec 2014 The Slovak Spectator
The resignation game EDITORIAL PRIME Minister Robert Fico has got the attention of media by suggesting that a military conflict in Ukraine has a 70-percent probability. “I am talking about a big military conflict,” Fico heralded, insinuating that he has a bigger conflict on his mind than that of Russia and Ukraine. Yet, renowned foreign policy expert Alexander Duleba of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association said he does not expect the situation in Slovakia’s eastern neighbour to get any worse. 8 Dec 2014 The Slovak Spectator
There is still a long road ahead Editorial ŠTEFAN Harabin failed in his last shot at keeping power in the Slovak judiciary after judges on November 25 said they do not want to see the man who lorded over the sector for much of past decade to have a seat on the Judicial Council, which oversees the functioning of courts nationwide. The year 2014 is praised by many as a year of change in the judiciary, and is proving a thorny one for Harabin who also failed in his bid to get re-elected as Supreme Court chairman and departed as head of the Judicial Council as well. 1 Dec 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Tending to the garden Editorial PAVOL Paška’s position for some time seemed almost unshakeable in the ruling Smer party. Thus the recent resignation of Smer’s strongman from the post of speaker of parliament opens up questions about what is changing in Robert Fico’s political garden, which this year has seen the uprooting of three cabinet ministers. 24 Nov 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Precarious progress Editorial THOSE who were students in November 1989 were fortunate enough to inhale the first sips of freedom on Slovakia’s squares while watching the corroding regime crumble are now into their mid-forties. Their children no longer understand references to pre-Christmas queues for mandarins and bananas, excruciating passport controls with police officers looking into bags to make sure travellers did not surpass the quota on candies purchased in Hungary, or May 1 parades in pioneer uniforms. They are the last generation to measure boredom in school by classes about “scientific communism”, but they are also the generation who still were able to catch the first train to foreign countries and opportunities their parents – the so-called Lost Generation – never dreamt of. 17 Nov 2014 The Slovak Spectator
A fistful of euros Editorial A 53-YEAR old woman was given a six month conditional prison sentence for giving a €5 bribe to a physician from Nitra for a confirmation of temporary sick-leave in early November. The local prosecution is investigating dozens of other patients over the transgression of giving bribe to a physician. The physician is being prosecuted for the crime of taking a bribe, and if found guilty, he might be locked behind bars from three to eight years, according to a SITA newswire report. 10 Nov 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Bigoted balloting Editorial NEITHER anti-gay activists, who initiated a petition for a referendum to constitutionally define the concept of family, nor LGBTI rights advocates, who called the initiative an attempt to curb minority rights, are happy with the recent ruling of the Constitutional Court. The judges ruled that three of the four proposed ballot initiatives could go forward, clearing a path for referenda on the definition of marriage, child adoption by same-sex couples and sexual education in schools, but blocking a question about registered partnerships having the same rights as marriage. 3 Nov 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Busting the myth EDITORIAL WHENEVER economic hardship culminates people, tend to pick a scapegoat – a vessel to pour their frustration into. In Slovakia, the country’s 403,000-strong Roma population most frequently plays this unfortunate role. Whenever foreigners who haven’t been in contact with the Roma ask about this socially vulnerable group, many Slovaks readily offer their insights: instead of working, they sponge off the country’s social system, thus contributing to the country’s economic problems. 26 Oct 2014 The Slovak Spectator
The worst publicity gimmick EDITORIAL SLOVAKIA has seen nearly as many stories of integrity as stories of corruption over the 25 years that have passed since the Velvet Revolution. The story of the Sme daily, which was founded in response to efforts by Vladimír Mečiar, the country’s notorious three-time prime minister, to silence the daily Smena, which was not coinciding with what Mečiar and his buddies envisioned for society, is one such story of integrity and the desire for freedom. 20 Oct 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Koniec Slovak Word of the Week “LESS MIGHTY than the Russian KGB, less notorious than the East German Stasi, and less feared than the Romanian Securitate, Štátna Bezpečnosť (ŠtB) was nonetheless a cornerstone of communist Czechoslovakia,” read the opening line of the first Word of the Week column, written in March 2009. With one or two exceptions, you could find it in every issue since. Now comes the end (koniec) of it, at least in its current form. 17 Oct 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Picture of Dorian Gray EDITORIAL PEOPLE who cannot be intoxicated by PR-pieces masked as journalism and aim for news that shows the true reflection of political Dorian Grays in the mirror, usually make well-informed decisions in their support for or opposition to politicians, public figures or even products. 13 Oct 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Čo bolo, bolo Slovak Word of the Week NO PHRASE can ever sum-up Slovakia’s approach to corruption and political scandal better than: “Čo bolo, bolo.” (What was, was). It was used most recently by former Transport Ministry official Peter Havrila, who will not be tried for forging official documents with potential damages in the hundreds of millions of euros, but it has been applied throughout the country’s history. 9 Oct 2014 The Slovak Spectator
The final act of the SDKÚ melodrama EDITORIAL RECENT developments within the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), a once reformist force that pushed three-time prime minister Vladimír Mečiar and his party out of office and into oblivion, is now itself on the verge of going the same route. 6 Oct 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Džentlmen Slovak Word of the Week IT HAS been noted here before that the true meaning of many words which find their way into Slovak gets lost in translation. Terms such as transparency, rule of law, or even democracy have all found their unique, central European identity. What’s even more interesting is how foreigners themselves tend to adapt. Whereas in Germany, the Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft would likely be cautious about keeping their promises, in their local dealings a “gentlemen’s agreement” means that although you agree not to sell your 50-percent share in the Petit Press media house to Andrej Babiš, or controversial local investment groups, you don’t mind selling to a middleman who will only go on to sell the publishing house to Penta, one of such groups. 2 Oct 2014 The Slovak Spectator
More than money EDITORIAL SHOPPING for media outlets is the latest trend among local billionaires and business moguls, spurring fear among journalists who thought they chose their profession and employer based on the relative independence they were offered in their work. 29 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
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Quote of the Week
“Viera Tomanová was on her way to the chamber, but fell on the stairs. Juraj Blanár was three seconds late, [and] Jaroslav Baška came a bit too late.” Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jana Laššáková (Smer) explaining the reasons why Smer did not pass the amendment to the Commercial Code after it was vetoed by the president.