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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Opakovaný vtip

“A JOKE repeated, is not a joke,” (opakovaný vtip nie je vtipom) says a Slovak proverb. Still, local police ended 2010 in very much the same style as they started it – by allowing an unsuspecting civilian to carry dangerous cargo around Europe.

“A JOKE repeated, is not a joke,” (opakovaný vtip nie je vtipom) says a Slovak proverb. Still, local police ended 2010 in very much the same style as they started it – by allowing an unsuspecting civilian to carry dangerous cargo around Europe.

In January it was the electrician from Poprad who flew to Dublin with his backpack containing test explosives which had been lost by border police during a dog-training exercise.


In December came the story of the driver whose truck was filled with a substance used in the production of heroin.

Yes, there were differences. The testing of explosives on travellers was clearly illegal and brought the country international ridicule, but on the other hand presented no actual threat, not counting the danger posed by Irish airport security and law enforcement.

The recent “monitored transport” on the other hand could be legally justified, meant no Europe-wide embarrassment, but also put the Czech driver in real danger. Not to mention the fact that he had to spend Christmas in a Turkish prison.

There are several lessons both cases hold:

1. Don’t trust the Slovak police with your luggage. Or your vehicle.

2. Never expect local officials to accept responsibility for the mistakes of their subordinates. Former interior minister Robert Kaliňák at one point suggested that perhaps it was the dog that didn’t do his job right. And now police chief Jaroslav Spišiak explained that not only did the police do nothing wrong, they “completed the operation with bravura”.

3. Whatever goes wrong, foreigners are to blame. Kaliňák said that Irish police overreacted by sealing off an entire street when they went in to get the explosive. Current minister Daniel Lipšic says that the truck affair “confirms that Turkey is not ready for EU entry”.

Luckily, neither case had a tragic end. But let’s hope there will be no more of them in 2011. This joke wasn’t funny even the first time around.


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