PETER Kresák, a constitutional lawyer who was the major figure behind the 2001 constitutional amendments, spoke to The Slovak Spectator on August 25, looking back at the constitutional development and pondering what changes may be ahead.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Is September 1 a strong reason to celebrate and do you think Slovaks are proud of their Constitution?
Peter Kresák (PK): I am not a particular friend of big celebrations and prefer to have people regularly reminded of and educated [about the constitution]. For me, it is important to see to what extent Slovak citizens are able to use the protection that this document provides them, and also whether this document is able to successfully regulate and balance the basic elements of state power. If we look at the number of motions to individual rights and freedoms protection authorities I have the impression that society is maturing quite fast. That makes me happy.
TSS: As a co-author of the 2001 amendments to the constitution, are you satisfied with the changes you have managed to push through?
PK: The amendments to the constitution have achieved the basic goals that we aimed for - the scope of basic constitutional principles was enlarged, effective protection of basic rights and freedoms of Slovak citizens has deepened.
Thousands of citizens have made use of the extended constitutional protection taking their constitutional complaints to the Constitutional Court, as well as to the ombudsman.
TSS: Are there any major areas that need to be improved in the constitution?
PK: The 2001 changes clearly moved the Slovak Constitution to the category of standard constitutional documents, although it had not been possible to fix everything that was necessary. The constitutional definition of the position and roles of political parties, parts pertaining to referendum and operation of the Attorney General's office are still in need of reworking. I am also convinced that the Slovak parliament needs to be reshaped into a two-chamber body.
TSS: Does the constitution need particular changes in relation to Slovakia's planned entry into the EU next year?
PK: Naturally, as political life in Europe develops, new needs for constitutional changes will arise. But I think that currently no issue linked to EU entry is in urgent need of change. However, what is true today does not necessarily have to be applicable tomorrow, with respect to ongoing work on the EU constitution.
TSS: Some critics have, in the past, downplayed the 1992 constitution, with some of them even dubbing the document a pamphlet. What did you think of the first constitution?
PK: I think there is no sense in repeatedly going back and making such pejorative statements. It must be a common goal of all who are dedicated to constitutional law to work incessantly on improving the quality of our state's basic law. Yes, the 1992 Constitution could have been better, just as anyone can say that the so-called big amendment in 2001 could have been designed differently. The constitution is the state's basic law, and as such, it deserves to be respected and honoured although that does not exclude constructive criticism and proposals for improvement.
2. Sep 2003 at 0:00