SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

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GEORGE W. Bush is not the only head of state for whom the internets are somewhat of a mystery. In the past, Ivan Gašparovič has claimed that people use Google to communicate. Now, in his letter to the speaker of parliament, in which he declined to appoint Jozef Čentéš as general prosecutor, he quotes a “reporter of the RSS daily”. Sadly, it seems his legal argumentation is no better than his IT skills.

GEORGE W. Bush is not the only head of state for whom the internets are somewhat of a mystery. In the past, Ivan Gašparovič has claimed that people use Google to communicate. Now, in his letter to the speaker of parliament, in which he declined to appoint Jozef Čentéš as general prosecutor, he quotes a “reporter of the RSS daily”. Sadly, it seems his legal argumentation is no better than his IT skills.

A few months ago no one knew that the president, whose role in Slovakia is mainly representational, had the right to reject a candidate elected by parliament. The Constitutional Court gave him that power, but under very strict circumstances – if the nominee had such personal flaws that they called into question the very functioning of the prosecution service. In his letter, the president tried to find several such flaws. Firstly, he called the entire election process a farce and said Čentéš’s willingness to participate in it was a sign of bad character. Yes, the way the right-wing coalition elected Čentéš in 2011 after months of fighting, failed votes and attempts to change the rules, was extremely embarrassing. But it was the politicians’ fault, not the candidate’s. Not to mention that the Constitutional Court eventually ruled that the final vote was legitimate. And that is what counts.

Secondly, Gašparovič says Čentéš not only shredded the transcript of MP Igor Matovič’s testimony about possible corruption in parliament, but also attempted to blame a secretary. The shredding was a mistake, for which Čentéš apologised. But let’s sum-up the circumstances: Matovič went to testify about rumours that the elections of general prosecutors were influenced by bribes or blackmail. But it was always the other side that was supposed to be responsible for the wrongdoing. If anything, Čentéš was the victim with little motivation to cover up. Moreover, a few hours later, Matovič repeated his statements, and has always said that he considers Čentéš an honest and fair man, who just made a mistake. Any way you look at it, it is difficult to see a defect of constitutional proportions.

The last of Gašparovič’s objections has to do with the candidate’s alleged lack of respect for the head of state. Now, anyone who has ever met Čentéš will tell you that he gives the impression of being a decent and submissive man. Of course, the president wouldn’t know, since throughout the year and a half he has kept Čentéš waiting, he has declined all of his requests for a meeting. But the fact is that it took Čentéš impossibly long to voice any public criticism of the president’s (in)action, and even then it was very dry. That said, you never know just what kind of provocative quote he gave to the president’s favourite RSS daily.

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