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Another government, another country

A diplomatic war was stirred up recently between Slovakia and Hungary by the words of the members of the foreign affairs committee in the Hungarian Parliament, who called for an independent investigation of the alleged beating of Hungarian Slovak student Hedviga Malinová.

A diplomatic war was stirred up recently between Slovakia and Hungary by the words of the members of the foreign affairs committee in the Hungarian Parliament, who called for an independent investigation of the alleged beating of Hungarian Slovak student Hedviga Malinová.

The affair has united the political opposition and coalition in Slovakia. PM Robert Fico called it an outrageous interference with the work of Slovak law organs with the intention of fomenting tensions; opposition KDH vice-chairman Martin Fronc said the statements by Hungarian politicians were inappropriate and harmful, and that he believed the Slovak court system would handle the case objectively.

When we take the various statements as a whole (with the exception of the SMK opposition ethnic Hungarian party), both the opposition and coalition regard Slovakia's justice system bodies as trustworthy, reliable, just and objective. From the political perspective this is understandable, but from the factual angle it is more questionable. What has changed in this country since the accession of the Fico government to turn investigators, prosecutors and judges into model members of society? While he was in opposition, Fico often claimed that Slovakia did not enjoy the rule of law. He did not say this just because Ivan Lexa, suspected of committing more than 10 crimes, had been found innocent on all counts by the courts, and was walking around as a law-abiding citizen. Are all of the investigators from these cases now retired? Are we no longer in danger of "losing" any wiretap recordings, or having personal data published? Do Slovak citizens no longer have to turn to European courts to protect their rights? Are the Slovak courts now sufficient?

The political hubbub between Slovakia and Hungary will not last long, judging from the words of Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš, who on May 30 thanked the Hungarian government for its stance on the Malinová case, or from the meeting that has been prepared between the Slovak and Hungarian prime ministers. But it will take a long time for the feeling to be erased that state organs meant to serve citizens abuse their power. Investigators, prosecutors and judges should not be feared, but neither should they be blindly trusted.


Sme, May 31

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