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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I wish to express my concern that the OSCE [Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe] appears to think that the 'old boy network' is an acceptable method for finding observers for election monitoring in ex-East Bloc countries.

With all due respect, I object to being phoned, as I was by the OSCE, and immediately told the following: 'We have been given your name and would like you to be an observer at the elections of the Slovak president, but it is a labour of love only.'

When I investigated this 'labour of love' proposal it transpired that I must travel twice to Bratislava and back, stay overnight at least once, travel around the area to which I would be sent and then get up for the start of the voting and remain on duty on the voting day until the polls closed. Then I would have to drive to Bratislava for a second time for a debriefing the next day.

I was shocked that this important job was offered on the condition that the selected observers agreed to pay for the entire cost of the operation themselves.

I will be protesting further over this policy as I feel it is completely disgraceful for any professional organisation to go around touting for domestic observers in this manner.

I estimate that my travel costs in performing this role could have totalled more than half my monthly earnings in Slovak crowns to carry out the duty of an observer for the presidential election in Slovakia.


John Edwin Skelton
Banská Bystrica

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