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CHANGE MIGHT COME AGAIN AT THE AGRICULTURE MINISTRY

Another minister out?

THE POST of agriculture minister does not seem to be suitable for long-distance runners. The current minister, Stanislav Becík, already the third during Prime Minister Fico’s government, recently made himself quite visible as he roamed through rural parts of Slovakia in a horse-pulled carriage in a quest to re-awaken farmers’ pride in their occupation. But shortly after the ride was over and the farmers’ harvests were put safely under-roof, rumours began to appear in the media that Becík might be asked to move on after just one year and pass on his post to another party nominee.

THE POST of agriculture minister does not seem to be suitable for long-distance runners. The current minister, Stanislav Becík, already the third during Prime Minister Fico’s government, recently made himself quite visible as he roamed through rural parts of Slovakia in a horse-pulled carriage in a quest to re-awaken farmers’ pride in their occupation. But shortly after the ride was over and the farmers’ harvests were put safely under-roof, rumours began to appear in the media that Becík might be asked to move on after just one year and pass on his post to another party nominee.

According to the Sme daily, the head of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) Vladimír Mečiar announced to the political board of the party that he will propose Becík be dismissed. He also told the board members not to talk about it in public yet, Sme reported. The reason for the dismissal, according to media speculations, would be Becík’s reluctance to lead the ministry in line with party principles. Nomination of the agriculture minister was allocated to HZDS by the agreement between the three parties of the governing coalition signed in 2006.

“Only three people from HZDS are employed in the ministry; in other ministries it’s party nominees from top to bottom,” an unidentified member of HZDS’s political board told Sme. “He did not keep the party line. He obeys Smer rather than HZDS.”

Some media also speculated that the party’s leadership is not happy with Becík’s nominations to head the state forestry company, Lesy SR. He appointed several Smer nominees to the managerial posts there.

“I have put the best three expert directors there,” Becík said in defending his choices in an interview with Sme. He repeatedly has said that he knows nothing about his possible dismissal, but has added that if the party has a better person for the post, he is willing to leave.

“The seat did not grow onto my ass,” SITA quoted Becík as saying at the government’s session on August 19. “When D-day comes, because the seat belongs to the party, and a better candidate comes, I will obviously raise my hand for him and will support him too.”

The name most often mentioned by the media as a potential successor to Becík is Marek Kodada, the head of the rural development department at the Agriculture Ministry.

According to Sme, there are speculations inside HZDS that Prime Minister Fico might not accept Becík’s resignation.

“The principle of the coalition agreement says that the party nominates its people to the posts and the Prime Minister would have to have a very serious reason not to agree,” Milan Urbáni from HZDS told Sme.

So far HZDS has not commented further on the potential dismissal of the agriculture minister. Originally the party was to hold another session of its political board this week to discuss issues inside the party. But on August 19 the party’s press department issued a statement that the session will most likely not take place before the end of the week.

“The HZDS leader Vladimir Mečiar is holding sincere talks with Agriculture Minister Stanislav Becík; their content is confidential and not meant for media communication,” the HZDS secretary Ivana Kapráliková wrote in a statement for the media. “If there should be any change on the ministerial post, it will be preceded by a talk with the Prime Minister and only then the political board of the party will meet to close the whole case. We will inform the media about the results of these negotiations.”

Additionally, the press department of HZDS informed the media that any information concerning Agriculture Minister Becík given by members of the party is to be considered irrelevant as only the party chairman is entitled to speak about personnel issues in the party, the TASR newswire reported.

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