FOR A country with no sea, Slovakia has a lot of prominent yachting enthusiasts. And yachts (jachty) just keep resurfacing in the headlines.
It was always a source of bewilderment how the leader of the nationalist SNS, Ján Slota, whose official incomes as mayor of Žilina and as a member of parliament were hardly enough to hire a water-bike at Senec Lakes, acquired his flotilla.
In July 2011 tabloids reported on then economy minister Juraj Miškov’s new boat worth over €1.2 million (the important difference with Slota being that Miškov’s earnings before entering politics were sufficient to buy one).
It was on board a yacht in Monte Carlo that then finance minister Ján Počiatek met with financiers from the J&T group in 2008. No one has proved that the conversion rate of the Slovak crown to the euro was one of the topics discussed. But if so, the secret information was enough to pay for another small fleet. Počiatek deserved more than the “yellow card” prime minister Robert Fico gave him at the time. And no, one should not regard the transport minister’s portfolio, which Počiatek now holds, as a penalty.
Another yachtsman in the new cabinet is Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský, who sails the seas with the brother of Jozef Brhel, an alleged sponsor and powerful background figure of Smer, with interests in the energy sector, for which Malatinský is now responsible. It does not mean that it was at Brhel’s behest that the minister, an independent figure with good references and no previous connections with the ruling party, was picked.
It just serves as a reminder that many businessmen are waiting for Fico to breathe some new wind into their sails. And that later it will be high time to take the watch.