A majority of participants at the May 22 Slovak Psychiatrists' Congress in Košice signed an open letter to Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, in which they expressed their concerns over his mental health and called on him to leave politics for his own good as well as that of all Slovak citizens.
"We are convinced that it is in your own interest, as well as in the interest of all Slovak citizens...that you withdraw from politics and stop transfering your own conflicts, passions and views of the world onto the population," reads the open letter, which was approved by 90% of the 180 participants who took part in a secret vote at the third congress of Slovak psychiatrists and psychotherapists in the eastern Slovak city of Košice. Altogether, 270 members of the Slovak Psychiatric Society (SPS) and Slovak Psychotherapeutic Society (SPTS) participated in the meeting.
"Concerns over the destruction of democracy urge us to speak out," the letter continues. "We have been observing with apprehension the way you handle power. We don't have the right to issue any psychiatric diagnosis concerning your person, but we feel it is our duty to comment on your behavior in politics and on your public appearance as well."
"We are not personally biased against [Mečiar], but we consider the way he performs the duties of his current position as untenable, and that's why we asked him to quit," explained Anton Heretik, the SPS Vice-Chairman and one of the letter's signatories.
Heretik continued that it was not Mečiar's personality the congress was concerned with, but "the way he presents himself as a politician".
Marián Kardoš, Mečiar's new spokesman, refused to comment on the issue.
Milan Kňažko, Vice-Chairman of the opposition liberal DÚ party and a former foreign minister in Mečiar's cabinet between July 1992 and March 1993, was the first Slovak politician to publicly question Mečiar's sanity. "Several times in non-public places, I have experienced [Mečiar] being really helpless," he said.
Kňažko drew a connection between Mečiar's behavior and the policies he pursues. "His aggressive behavior toward domestic political problems, toward opposition or minority groups, is at least strange," he said.
According to Heretik, Mečiar's current policies not only polarize society, but atomize families as well. "There are many families that have broken up because of the current political situation," he said. "What's very typical for Slovaks is that they consider a person with a different political attitude to be their enemy."
Driven by the aforementioned concerns, the psychiatrists offered Mečiar a helping hand. "If you were our patient, we would do everything to develop your sane human qualities, which you surely have, and to deprive you of your compulsive urges to govern and manipulate others even at the cost of repressing their personal freedom," the doctors wrote.
However, Vladimír Novotný, an SPS Committee member and one of the three doctors who prepared the letter, denied that Mečiar's hospitalization was their goal. "The open letter didn't have any specific aim. The only goal was to make a statement," Novotný said.
4. Jun 1998 at 0:00 | Slavomír Danko