Slovak Army Chief of Staff Jozef Tuchyňa will continue in his position until Defence Minister Ján Sitek recalls him, announced the Slovak Defence Ministry in a public staement on August 25.
The statement did much to calm Slovakia's troubled military waters. The army had been in an uproar since August 19 when the speaker of the Slovak Parliament, Ivan Gašparovič, recalled Tuchyňa and named General Marián Mikluš as his successor. Tuchyňa refused to step down, saying that Gašparovič did not have the power to make such a move, and threatened to court martial any soldier who disobeyed his orders.
According to the Defence Ministry, Gašparovič's action was invalid because the text of his decision "ordered" Mikluš to serve and Tuchyňa to resign. Only Minister Sitek has the power to issue such orders, the Ministry said, and until Mikluš was properly appointed, Tuchyňa would remain in power. SNS representatives said the change-over would likely happen in the last week of September.
The bungled appointment quickly became political fodder. Tuchyňa first asked to be released from his position in July after deciding to run for office with the reformed communist SDĽ party. The party claimed that Gašparovič, a member of Premier Vladimír Mečiar's ruling HZDS party, had used the fact that Sitek was on holiday in Mexico to revenge himself on Tuchyňa. "Somebody is very envious that General Tuchyňa chose the SDĽ," said party spokesman Robert Zanony.
Vice Premier and HZDS deputy Sergej Kozlík, however, said that Tuchyňa was out of line and should step down gracefully. "General Jozef Tuchyňa wants to sit on three chairs at once," he said: "to be released from the army, to be an SDĽ candidate and to be the Slovak Armed Forces Chief of Staff."
But the real animosity lay between the HZDS and its junior coalition partner, the nationalist SNS party. The SNS holds the Defence Ministry portfolio, and it viewed Gašparovič's actions as having dissolved the governing coalition. "The SNS dissociates itself from this style of governance," said party first secretary Anna Maliková at an August 21 press conference. "At the time [that Mikluš was appointed] the coalition agreement was broken."
But the political rhubarb did not seem to have affected the mental stability of the Slovak army. "The situation in he army is peaceful, and there are no problems," said Jozef Pivarci, commander of the Slovak Army's third Air Force corps in Zvolen. "Life goes on and we are just waiting to see what the situation turns out like," he continued phlegmatically.
7. Sep 1998 at 0:00 | Andrea Lörinczová