Ex-president wants Mečiar-era privatizations overturned

SLOVAKIA's former president, Michal Kováč, has appealed to Slovaks to vote for political parties that support the cancellation of amnesties issued by his old foe, former prime minister Vladimír Mečiar, as well as privatization decisions made by his 1994-1998 government.

Using powers that devolved to him after Kováč's term in office ran out in March 1998, Mečiar issued the blanket amnesties to people involved in thwarting a 1997 referendum on NATO membership and in kidnapping Kováč's son, Michal Kováč Jr, in 1995. Much evidence exists implicating the Mečiar government in both crimes, but the amnesties have prevented the cases from being tried.

According to Kováč, the Mečiar government's privatization sales, which often transferred state assets to private ownership for a fraction of their real value, could be cancelled by amending the constitution. The state stands to gain Sk200-220 billion, the SME daily wrote.

Kováč said the ownership stakes could be returned to the National Property Fund state privatization agency, while the current owners would get their money back.

However, legal experts have warned that canceling privatization sales could cause legal disputes. Even the Christian Democratic Movement, which agrees that Mečiar-era privatization was not just and has repeatedly tried to have the amnesties overturned, says that Kováč's plan is unrealistic because it violates the principle of legal certainty.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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