Defence Minister Juraj Liška resigns

DEFENCE Minister Juraj Liška announced on January 27 that he was resigning from his ministerial post, following talks held earlier with Premier Mikuláš Dzurinda, the TASR news agency reported.

The minister decided to step down in response to last week's An-24 military-aircraft crash in north-eastern Hungary, in which 42 soldiers and crew were killed. The soldiers on board the aircraft were on their way home from the KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.

"I certainly do not feel any personal responsibility. I do not think that I failed to do as much as I could towards the better functioning of our armed forces. It is simply because at the time when this tragedy happened to Slovakia I was occupying the post of Defence Minister," Liška told journalists.

President Ivan Gašparovič has not yet accepted the resignation saying that he needed several days before making his decision. "I perceive it as a result of events connected with the tragedy of our soldiers (returning) from Kosovo," Gasparovic told journalists after receiving Liška's letter of resignation.

Slovak Speaker of Parliament Pavol Hrušovský thanked Defence Minister Liška for his resignation, and appreciated the work he has done as minister. "I want to believe that this decision is only his decision - as Liška said - and coming from his heart, and not a decision made by the SDKÚ [the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union which nominated Liška to the post]," Hrušovský told journalists.

Compiled by Marta Ďurianová from press reports
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