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Weekly Slovak Press Digest

Public Affair

"The storm in a teacup that arose around the appointment of the Chief of the General Staff of the Slovak Army proved that the SDĽ did not take Jozef Tuchyňa, the army's former chief, on its candidates list just because of his blue eyes. He had to find an excuse somehow for this step [leaving the army and going into politics with the SDĽ] after having held the post of Interior Minister from 1992-94 in Vladimír Mečiar's government. And after all, what else could the left-wing democrats do to advertise themselves, but start a scandal? The case, or the affair, is the best way to win popularity in at least some people's eyes."
Stanislav Háber, Slovenská Republika, August 26.

Less resistant to disagreement

The strongest opposition daily writes of Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar and his live performance on the regular Dialogues show on the night of August 22, in which he speaks to listeners over the phone.

"A young listener said nothing rude, but asked about the successes Mečiar claimed for himself, as he had not seen evidence of them anywhere so far. Vladimár Mečiar immediately said: "You are just stirring up accusations against me without proof, but you don't listen to the facts!" It then took him ages to list all the achievements of his third government, a speech which he then wrapped up with the admonishment that there are blind people who cannot see, as well as blind people who do not want to see. Then he proposed the listener sign up for one of these groups."
Sme, August 24

Movement without scruples

"Yesterday, one of the members of the Slovak Board of Economic Development approached me. He asked me whether I knew what the programme of Thursday's [August 27] meeting would be about. I did not know. He showed me the invitation, saying that it was to be 'The Program Aims of the HZDS in the 1998 Elections.' The invitation was signed by Sergej Kozlík, the Chairman of the Board and Vice-Premier as well. The anonymous source was really upset. Why would the non-partisan board deal particularly with the aims of the HZDS? Why don't they discuss SNS or ZRS aims, or the programs of some big opposition parties? Just for the sake of confrontation. It's true that the board is organized by the government, but the HZDS is not the government yet, or is it?......"
Vladimír Jancura, Pravda, August 26

--The same day Pravda released this commentary, Slovak Cabinet Spokeperson Dagmar Beláková sent a letter to the official state news agency TASR, complaining that the information reported about the person who signed the Economic Board invitation was not true. Actually, the form was signed by Marián Lenčeš, director of the board's press department. "The cabinet Office's Press and Information Department strongly protests against such distorted information and recommends that Jancura, as well as other editors in Pravda daily, thoroughly verify their sources and the information they use in their commentaries," wrote TASR and added that if the HZDS does not receive an apology, it will take legal action--

Waiting for a Surprise

"The HZDS is not fighting to defend their politics. On their billboards, they are showing "easy-going" basketball players, loving couples, orboasting of their achievements at Gabčíkovo and Mochovce power plants. They are not trying to attract voters even with one shot of the face of their leader... This illusion is more palatable for the voter than the call of the opposition for change."
Peter Toth, Sme, September 3

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