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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

U.S. Steel

FOOTBALL, metallurgy, and Slovak politics usually don’t have much in common. This is one of the rare weeks when they do. Anyone who saw Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano score an uncontested goal after a dropped ball in the Champion’s League match against Nordsjaelland, must be disgusted. Running past Danish defenders, who were expecting the Ukrainian team to return the ball after an injury, and shooting into an empty net, is the definition of unfair play.

FOOTBALL, metallurgy, and Slovak politics usually don’t have much in common. This is one of the rare weeks when they do. Anyone who saw Shakhtar Donetsk forward Luiz Adriano score an uncontested goal after a dropped ball in the Champion’s League match against Nordsjaelland, must be disgusted. Running past Danish defenders, who were expecting the Ukrainian team to return the ball after an injury, and shooting into an empty net, is the definition of unfair play.

Since the club’s owner Rinat Akhmetov also seems close to buying the U.S. Steel factory in Košice, it’s easy to see the sports incident as a symbolic warning against what might come to Slovakia.
The arrival of a decent American investor in 2000 didn’t just save the metalworks from bankruptcy and prevent thousands of jobs from being lost.

It also had geopolitical implications, making it more likely that if Slovakia ever faces pressure from the East, the US might care. And it also meant a change of culture, not only in the firm, but the entire region, which is in great part dependent on the company. If a Ukrainian oligarch takes over, not only will these advantages be lost, but we might see a move in the exact opposite direction.

Even friends of free trade will admit that given the economic and strategic importance of the firm, the state should play an active role and try to influence whose hands the factory ends up in, if it is, in fact, sold.

We have seen very little of that from the outside. Instead, Robert Fico seems to be preoccupied with the notion that, somehow, this is all Mikuláš Dzurinda’s fault. Blaming the former prime minister is an unnecessary distraction.

Moreover, it once again proves that Fico is the Luiz Adriano of Slovak politics.

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