"In no case do I expect the ruling coalition to come in September with a large plate stacked with free seats in the FNM, the television and radio councils, and the intelligence service oversight board."
I think there will be no significant shift nor any surprises. No discussions confirming the ruling coalition's will to carry out fundamental changes in the National Property Fund (FNM) or in the parliamentary bodies supervising the intelligence service and radio and television have taken place during the summer holidays.
My impression is that the prime minister is relying on the so-called "salami method" to calm the political situation gradually: We will give you a bite in September, a bite in December, bite by bite, until the term of office is over. This may be acceptable for the ruling coalition, but certainly not for the opposition or for the international community.
I fully agree with Western politicians who say NATO and the European Union (EU) are basically clubs where a certain behavior is required. Once somebody asks to be given membership, he is expected to do all possible to become a legitimate member.
I am afraid that there are certain groups of politicians in the ruling coalition who play a very bizarre game. On the outside, they formally declare their desire to become a member of the EU and NATO, but in real politics, they do everything to prevent the country from joining the club. If Slovakia is denied membership in the first round, the ruling coalition can make an interesting election campaign trick out of it: "Look, we wanted to go to Europe, but they did not want us."
In no case do I expect the ruling coalition to come in September with a large plate stacked with free seats in the FNM, the television and radio councils, and the intelligence service oversite board, known as OKO. This would mean a denial of their own politics, supported by 30 to 35 percent of the Slovak population. In a way, coalition politicians are trapped. They know that they will be getting votes from the Slovak electorate but not from foreign politicians.
Western politicians should put pressure on the Slovak government, but not through criticism. They should force them into responsibility: You want to join the European Union? Fulfill this, this and that. Come see us and explain such and such issue. Certainly, something to that end does take place, but not to the necessary extent.
Slovakia has certain specifics, which some foreign politicians have difficulties understanding. We try to explain to them that the voters are in such a situation that they accept absurdities without complaining. The notion that the démarches telling the ruling coalition that some of its moves could complicate Slovakia's admission to EU and NATO have, in fact, increased the coalition's popularity is hard to comprehend. But that's the way it is.
The internal political situation in Slovakia has been evaluated negatively for a long time. If we add the incredible quarrels with Hungary, we cannot hope that Slovakia's image will improve.
If the politicians of the ruling coalition fully used the chances of this fall, they could send out some very positive signals and Slovakia's position on the international scene would improve. But I am afraid nothing of that sort is going to happen.
Róbert Fico is a Parliamentarian and vice-chairman of the Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ).
28. Aug 1996 at 0:00 | Róbert Fico