EDITORIAL

Interblue begs for a good conspiracy theory

PRIME Minister Robert Fico knows who is pulling the strings. After Slovakia spent over €7 million on vaccines to shield vulnerable groups of the population from the H1N1 pandemic, Fico uttered a comment which should relieve anyone fearing a wide spread of the virus: vaccinations against swine flu are “just a big game on the part of pharmaceutical firms”. Certainly, if this ‘revelation’ is in any way relevant in public discourse, then it can make many hardworking taxpayers very nervous about this government’s management of public funds.

PRIME Minister Robert Fico knows who is pulling the strings. After Slovakia spent over €7 million on vaccines to shield vulnerable groups of the population from the H1N1 pandemic, Fico uttered a comment which should relieve anyone fearing a wide spread of the virus: vaccinations against swine flu are “just a big game on the part of pharmaceutical firms”. Certainly, if this ‘revelation’ is in any way relevant in public discourse, then it can make many hardworking taxpayers very nervous about this government’s management of public funds.

“I do not believe it,” said Fico on February 23, as quoted by the Sme daily. “It is my subjective feeling ... pharmaceutical firms often are able to create such pressure so that they are able to meet their business interests.”

Then Fico was quick to add that it was the right decision to buy the vaccines and that even though his government was pressed to buy a greater quantity it made a rational decision not to do so. Fico, of course, in those couple lines of discourse comes across clearly as a politician who can withstand the winds of influence from pharmaceutical interests.

To its newspaper coverage of the PM’s swine flu conspiracy theory, Sme appended a list of other conspiracy theories that Fico has showered on the public since 2006. For instance, Fico’s statement last month, “I have such things, that sometimes I worry that someone does not shoot me,” when describing the kinds of information he has about what he called shady funding of the SDKÚ party.

Fico has repeatedly seen conspiracy in the way Slovak media reports on him and Smer and in keeping with this apparent mindset, he said he believed in those mega-conspiracy theories showing that the global economic downturn was carefully plotted by those who wanted to redistribute the world’s wealth, Sme noted.

However, Robert Fico has not yet offered the Slovak public with any grand conspiracy theories about the real doings of the mysterious Interblue Group firm, an ongoing saga which, in fact, begs for a good conspiracy theory. What other firm would be more deserving of a grand tale involving secret societies and shady corporations interwoven with a vast world-wide network of power-seeking and money-hungry politicos?

The only flesh-and-bones person who emerged from the deep fog surrounding the US garage firm has now resigned from her post as authorized representative shortly after her photo appeared. That US firm which bought Slovakia’s emission quotas at a bargain-basement price then morphed into a Swiss firm called Interblue Group (Europe), all the while changing its business address several times over. Would this image fit well into a spy novel?

Fico has neither produced a theory for who Jana Lütken, the former exec who claimed she suffered a “serious brain concussion” caused by a Slovak television crew, really is or who she might be fronting for, nor has he promised voters that he will go to Switzerland and dig out the real information about this mysterious company.

But Fico has said he will travel to Switzerland and, apparently apart from his official agenda, he will devote some personal investigatory time to some other Swiss accounts. Earlier this year Fico resuscitated a dying case of unexplained financing of the SDKÚ party back in 2005 by claiming that the party is fed by shell companies operating with Swiss bank accounts.

“I want to focus on bilateral issues, but certainly I will devote part of this visit to exchange of information as far as the Swiss accounts [of SDKÚ] are concerned,” Fico said on February 18, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Obviously, during the election campaign, revelations regarding Interblue Group might not annihilate SDKÚ as effectively as flashy claims about its past financing.

Too many of Slovakia’s voters are unlikely to do the math and calculate how much the state, and they as taxpayers, lost on the deal with Interblue. They also might not ask the question how is it possible that government officials made such a huge business deal with an obscure firm which now is disappearing over the Swiss horizon while the Environment Ministry has no idea what to do?

The ministry has been reluctant to say if it knows who its “inter-bluish” negotiation partners really are. Why is it that this situation does not seem very alarming for Fico? Why isn’t he summoning a special session of the government as he did when he felt the urge to discuss the conspiratorial activities of the media? Perhaps just one more, well-constructed conspiracy theory could be in order.


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