THE SLOVAK SPECTATOR spoke to Pavol Nechala, a lawyer with Transparency International Slovakia, about the resignation of František Kašický as defence minister.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Do you think it was significant that Defence Minister František Kašický resigned from his position and was replaced by the state secretary of the ministry, Jaroslav Baška?
Pavol Nechala (PN): Definitely, from the political point of view; political responsibility was taken. But it will also depend on what other steps the (new) minister takes. This case has shown systemic problems at the ministry. The case was not revealed by internal ministery investigation, but it went quite far - as far as announcing a tender. So the new minister is automatically expected to make systemic changes at the ministry in order to prevent such situations in future.
TSS: What do you think the new minister should do?
PN: Minister Baška does not come to a green field (clean slate), but he faces troubles that were left there by the previous minister. He cannot see the status quo of Kašický's term as the end of the line, which he can freely ignore.
TSS: How do you see the tender? Was it a case of cronyism or not?/b>
PN: In this case, there are legitimate reasons to investigate not only the labour or political responsibility (for the tender), but also criminal responsibility. However, this can only be decided upon by the prosecution in cooperation with the courts.
TSS: What do you mean specifically?
PN: The facts that are known are so serious that they meet the requirements for being handled by the prosecution. The price of the tenders tripled compared to the previous period.
TSS: How do you see the principle of calling for political responsibility?
PN: Currently, this principle is applied in an unbalanced way. Sometimes political responsibility is taken when grave troubles are concerned, sometimes not.
TSS: Are you implying the removal of former agriculture minister Miroslav Jureňa in connection with dubious land transfers?
PN: Yes, Prime Minister Robert Fico dismissed him. Now Kašický resigned. But there were other problems, too, which have not been solved. So this case is not an example of a consistent political culture, but rather a result of some political fights. After all, even the media commentaries and analyses show that the prime minister was forced to accept Kašický's resignation, in order to prevent another coalition crisis. So it is rather a reaction to the fight within the ruling coalition, not the introduction of a new political culture.
TSS: Is it right to talk about an increase in cronyism during Fico's term?
PN: The statistics you could use to measure these things have not been processed. Cases also occured in the previous term. We might have this feeling more often than during the government of Mikuláš Dzurinda, but it has not been substantiated.
4. Feb 2008 at 0:00 | Ľuba Lesná