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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
100 Slovak Word of the Week ANDREJ Kiska’s spokesman Peter Petrus gave his boss a nice gift to celebrate his first 100 days as head of state – he quit. And there are rumours that other shifts in the president’s inner circle are occurring. But save for these small personal turbulences, Kiska has had a good start, especially in the key areas. 25 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Twilight of the Harabin era? EDITORIAL ŠTEFAN Harabin, who over the past five years occupied the country’s two most powerful judicial posts and thus significantly contributed to the current state of Slovakia’s judiciary, which itself suffers from an acute deficiency of public trust, is now out of the top judicial game, at least for the next five years. 22 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Pandúr Slovak Word of the Week IN THE Hungarian Kingdom, a pandúr was an armed serf who carried out the wishes of his master. Today, the word is used to describe not only an armoured military transporter, but also a corruption scandal connected with the sale of the vehicle to the Czech defence department. 18 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Value judgement EDITORIAL THIS YEAR Slovakia marked the 75th anniversary of the darkest period in the country’s history – the founding of the wartime Slovak state, an entity which, among other crimes it committed on its own citizens, paid Nazi Germany to deport Slovak Jews to concentration camps. Much has been said and written about March 14, the day when the Nazi-puppet state emerged back in 1939, about learning the lessons of history so that they are not repeated and so forth – but apparently not enough. 15 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Penta Slovak Word of the Week THERE are a great number of Slovak proverbs that warn against premature joy. “Nechváľ rána pred večerom” (Do not praise the morning before the eve), “Nekrič hop, kým nepreskočíš” (Do not yell hop before you jump over), or “Po veľkom smiechu prichádza veľký plač” (After great laughter comes great grief). So even though rumours that the Petit Press publishing house, owner of both SME and this newspaper, will be taken over by the Penta investment group, seem to be unfounded, there is still reason for caution. Who knows what tomorrow may bring. 11 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
The will of the people? EDITORIAL SLOVAKIA definitely has a troubled history of using the public plebiscite as a democratic tool. Of the seven referenda the country has held since its independence in 1993, only the one asking “do you agree that Slovakia should become an EU member country” has been valid. Moreover, there was no referendum held before the so-called velvet divorce of the Czechs and Slovaks within former Czechoslovakia, which gave birth to Slovakia. 8 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
Festivaly Slovak Word of the Week WHAT better way to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Woodstock than by banning one music festival and almost cancelling another? The tales of Gothoom and Moldava Spolu differ only in the details. 4 Sep 2014 The Slovak Spectator
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Quote of the Week
“From my point of view, the revision to the constitution did not ban exports of water from Slovakia: it only turned it into a tear-off calendar.” Most-Híd MP Zsolt Simon comments on passing the constitutional amendment banning water exports.