Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

CEFTA DIARY

Tight security, tough reporting

Of all five CEFTA prime ministers, the Czech Republic's Vaclav Klaus was probably the easiest one to approach. Striding across a hall at the Hotel Grand, Klaus halted and fielded questions when the press hordes ran up to him. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, on the other hand, was shielded by troops of security personnel, and did not stop to talk shop with the media. Instead, Mečiar dispatched Magda Pospíšilová, his spokeswoman, to brief the curious about what he had to say.
Even though some of the leaders were accessible, in general it wasn't easy to fish for information. That's because security officers flooded the premises of the Hotel Grand, barring journalists from entering certain areas and some reporters from the press conference room when they arrived late.

Of all five CEFTA prime ministers, the Czech Republic's Vaclav Klaus was probably the easiest one to approach. Striding across a hall at the Hotel Grand, Klaus halted and fielded questions when the press hordes ran up to him. Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, on the other hand, was shielded by troops of security personnel, and did not stop to talk shop with the media. Instead, Mečiar dispatched Magda Pospíšilová, his spokeswoman, to brief the curious about what he had to say.

Even though some of the leaders were accessible, in general it wasn't easy to fish for information. That's because security officers flooded the premises of the Hotel Grand, barring journalists from entering certain areas and some reporters from the press conference room when they arrived late. Two snipers perched on the roof monitored the proceedings around the clock.

An invisible line divided the hotel lobby into two sections; one part where the officials would hang out waiting for the next bilateral meeting or for the document signing ceremony, and the second part for the press. Journalists who managed to cross this mystical border were often interrupted in the middle of an interview and escorted several meters aside by eager bodyguards.

Klaus scales Chopok with staff in tow

Vaclav Klaus strong-armed all the members of his delegation on a less-than leisurely hike at the top of Chopok, the second tallest peak in the Low Tatras. It seemed like the Premier didn't check the weather reports, for when reaching the summit via the furnicular, it was cold, foggy and the visibility hovered close to nil. Undeterred by the inclement weather, Klaus and his staff hiked at least partially down the 2,024 meter mountain. Said Šedivý, deputy chairman of the economy in the Czech government: "Lucky for me I brought my hiking shoes."

Klaus, a big outdoors enthusiast who is particularly fond of tennis and skiing, has a history of making fellow ministers and staff accompany him in a variety of athletic pursuits. Once he organized a bicycle competition where he and his aides had to ride their bikes 20-odd kilometers over the Czech hills.

Mečiar hosts a descent into Slovakia's depths

In contrast to Klaus, Prime Minister Mečiar must have heard the weather forecasts. Shunning the great outdoors, Mečiar led Lithuanian Prime Minister Mindaugas Stankevichius and several members of the CEFTA delegation underground to visit Demänovská cave, a few minutes drive north of Jasná. Not many details were available of the trip, but it's doubtful they walked the entire length of the ice kingdom.

Top stories

Russian spies allegedly recruit also Slovaks

They are using martial art clubs in Germany and dozens more in other EU states, in the Western Balkans, and in North America.

Illustrative stock photo

EC scrutinises state aid for Jaguar Photo

There is a question whether the scrutiny may impact the carmaker’s plans to invest in Slovakia.

The construction site of a brand new plant of Jaguar Land Rover near Nitra.

GLOBSEC forum will host guests from 70 countries

The 12th year of the conference will be attended by the highest number of participants in its history.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska gives the opening speech of The Globsec 2016 security conference.

Armed forces need new armour, and more

Slovakia's armed forces need to modernise their military technology, but also improve infrastructure and make soldiers' salaries more competitive.

Illustrative stock photo