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Dzurinda fails to fire

PRIME Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda failed to convince his ruling partners to recall head of the National Security Office (NBÚ) Ján Mojžiš from his post, after what the PM called a "total loss of trust" in the official.
Since 2001, Mojžiš has led the country's security office, a crucial institution in Slovakia's effort to become a NATO member, scheduled for next year.
The head of the parliamentary security committee, Robert Kaliňák, recently named Mojžiš, along with six other people, as an alleged member of a group that Dzurinda, in late August, had blamed for allegedly harming the interest of the state and his Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ).


Cabinet partners unconvinced by PM's arguments, reject SDKÚ's effort to sack NBÚ head Mojžiš
photo: TASR

PRIME Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda failed to convince his ruling partners to recall head of the National Security Office (NBÚ) Ján Mojžiš from his post, after what the PM called a "total loss of trust" in the official.

Since 2001, Mojžiš has led the country's security office, a crucial institution in Slovakia's effort to become a NATO member, scheduled for next year.

The head of the parliamentary security committee, Robert Kaliňák, recently named Mojžiš, along with six other people, as an alleged member of a group that Dzurinda, in late August, had blamed for allegedly harming the interest of the state and his Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ).

Dzurinda has never confirmed, however, whether Mojžiš was a member of this group, only dubbing the list published by Kaliňák as "nonsense".

But a cabinet vote on September 10 showed that Dzurinda's ruling partners, including Defence Minister Ivan Šimko, who is a member of the PM's SDKÚ, were not convinced by Dzurinda's arguments for recalling the vetting authority chief.

Immediately after the vote, Dzurinda refused to tell journalists what his further steps in the matter would be.

Had Šimko voted along with the SDKÚ recommendation to support Mojžiš' recall, Dzurinda would have succeeded in his effort. Seven out of 14 present ministers supported the recall - all SDKÚ ministers with the exception of Šimko, and two ministers from the ruling New Citizen's Alliance (ANO).

The seven other ministers refrained from voting, including nominees by the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) and the Christian Democrats (KDH).

The PM insisted, however, that "in the long run, Mojžiš' position is not sustainable".

Prior to the vote in the cabinet, SMK and KDH officials announced that they had bound their cabinet ministers to refrain from voting, citing insufficient evidence for such a move.

SMK's deputy chairman and Slovakia's Deputy Prime Minister for EU Integration, Pál Csáky, said shortly before the vote that the SMK considered "this situation to be rather serious because a loss of confidence is being declared by the PM towards [a person representing] this important post".

"But we have even bigger concerns towards the newly proposed replacement in this position. We think that it is not good in a coalition cabinet if one partner wants to put its nominees into all [major state] posts," Csáky said.

Prior to the vote, Dzurinda announced that Deputy Interior Minister Martin Pado, an SDKÚ member, would replace Mojžiš if the latter were recalled.

According to Dzurinda, Pado is "devoted to the transatlantic community, an undoubtedly democratic, honest, and decent person".

"An NBÚ led by Mr Pado would be more reliable, safer, and more devoted to democracy than an NBÚ led by Mr Mojžiš," Dzurinda said on September 9.

But Dzurinda's ruling partners did not agree with the nomination, indirectly accusing the SDKÚ of trying to dominate too many top national positions.

"SDKÚ wants to have [its nominees in posts including] the president, EU commissioner, head of the NBÚ, [and it already has its nominee as] head of the intelligence service [Ladislav Pittner, former SDKÚ member]," said Csáky.

"I think this is not good, especially in a situation when good balance [in top state posts] is needed," he said.

At a press conference on September 9, the PM said he has strong political reasons to fire Mojžiš.

Yet, he failed to cite any concrete arguments that have led him to believe that firing Mojžiš was inevitable and only noted that the move was related to his commitment to fight corruption and clientelism, "even in moments when it does not make me look good".

Before the vote, analysts such as Ivo Samson, from the Slovak Foreign Policy Association think tank in Bratislava, warned of the dangers of a change in the NBÚ top post. Samson argued that the change would result in the possible questioning of the previous security screenings that the NBÚ had carried out on officials that are expected to access classified NATO information after Slovakia's entry into the international organisation.

Mojžiš has enjoyed a record of trust from the highest NATO and EU Circles, which according to observers, was also evidenced by recent visits to the NBÚ by British and US ambassadors Rick Todd and Ronald Weiser, respectively.

On September 10, the Slovak daily Pravda also published a statement by the US embassy that restated the country's trust in the NBÚ's current leadership.

"A strong, independent, and skilled NBÚ is important for the US, NATO, and for Slovakia. It is our common interest to see the office headed by an experienced and responsible leader. Currently, we have trust in its operation," read the statement.

Juraj Puchý, head of the NBÚ office, refused to comment on the cabinet vote for The Slovak Spectator.

"We have taken note of the results of the vote but we will not comment on it in any way," Puchý said on Septmeber 11.

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