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News item: The HZDS ruling coalition party's nominations to the Transpetrol oil pipeline administrator have been allowed to stand, including Július Rezeš, the former CEO of the VSŽ steel mill who oversaw its near collapse in 1998.

" Illusionists "
By Peter Javurek

The Transpetrol case is interesting not only in its own right, but also because it shows that Slovak politics is full of illusionists who not only try to fool the public, but who also believe their own charades.

It would be very interesting to know if PM Robert Fico was really surprised by the nomination of Július Rezeš to Transpetrol, or whether this was a pre-arranged deal in which both the Smer and HZDS parties got to nominate their own people to the oil pipeline administrator. Whatever the answer, it is clear that Fico could have done nothing about it, because political coalitions are based on cooperation.

The problem is that cooperation with Vladimír Mečiar is not possible. And Fico built his coalition on the illusion that in working with Mečiar his Smer party would best be able to achieve its "social democratic" program. Today he has to face the fact that the public is far more occupied with personalities such as Rezeš or Justice Minister Štefan Harabin. If Fico wants to change this, he has two possibilities - fighting with Mečiar or agreeing with him. In both cases it is possible that his government's program will not be the centre of attention.

But the illusion that the political opposition is trying to sell is just as ridiculous: That Mečiar would act differently if he were in a coalition with former PM Mikuláš Dzurinda. It is unfathomable that former Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš is still able to say that "Vladimír Mečiar would not do such things if he were in a coalition with us because we wouldn't accept it". Really? And what would turn Mečiar into such an obedient political partner? The mere force of Dzurinda's personality?

Could any political party actually forge a deal with Mečiar that would not harm the entire country? We haven't seen one, and nor are we likely to. Because the main problem of governing with Mečiar lies not in the skill of his partners, but in the fact that he simply has no coalition potential - even within a coalition. Pretending that it could ever be otherwise is both foolish and dangerous.

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