SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Obranný val

THE CRISIS shield, the rescue package, the euro-region bailout, the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism, the €750-billion bazooka. While Europe seems to be struggling with how best to coin the financial tool devised to keep the common European currency safe, Slovakia has it settled – “obranný val”, the defensive bulwark. Unfortunately, the linguistic consensus is not matched by a political one.

Robert Fico Robert Fico (Source: SITA)

THE CRISIS shield, the rescue package, the euro-region bailout, the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism, the €750-billion bazooka. While Europe seems to be struggling with how best to coin the financial tool devised to keep the common European currency safe, Slovakia has it settled – “obranný val”, the defensive bulwark. Unfortunately, the linguistic consensus is not matched by a political one.

Outgoing Prime Minister Robert Fico said any commitment to the project must be made by the new coalition, since the elections had stripped him of his political mandate and legitimacy. His position is unfair, since before the vote he ignored attempts by the opposition to have a parliamentary discussion on the issue. But it does make sense.

The right’s position was best expressed by SaS leader Richard Sulík: “I’m not saying that we will sign, I’m not saying that we won’t sign. I’m saying that we don’t want to say anything.”

Now, it is natural that no politician wants to have anything to do with an unpopular plan to commit money his country doesn’t have to save other countries his voters don’t care about. Especially after a campaign based in large part on opposition to any sort of involvement in any rescue projects. And it is even reasonable to contemplate the risks of grandiose financial plans, although it is at this point a little late for Slovakia to block something the rest of the eurozone has agreed to.

But one thing which should not be excused is the reluctance to take a stance on important issues. Out of all the factors that helped the right win the elections, luck is perhaps the most prominent one. And the parties should not be testing it by refusing to act, or even speak, on the important issues facing the country.

In a matter of days Sulík and his colleagues will have no choice but say a definite word on the €750-billion package. And let’s hope that by the time they take over they will have built their own obranný val to shield them from populism, indecisiveness and irresponsibility.


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