Over the past weekend Prime Minister Robert Fico commemorated one year since his party’s landslide victory at Smer’s headquarters, drinking his “election cola”. According to the alleged Gorilla intelligence file, he drank the same beverage in the Penta-owned apartment where he met with its co-owner, Jaroslav Haščák. Fico still refuses to say whether or not he visited the apartment, adding that he will only speak about it to police, the PM said in the interview with the Sme daily on the occasion of the first anniversary of his government.
In the same interview, Fico said that financial groups Penta, J&T and Istrokapital control a considerable part of the state owing to the power and influence of the governments of Mikuláš Dzurinda (1998-2002 and 2002-2006). Fico also answered the question about when he last met with anyone from Penta.
“If you want to manage the state you often run into shareholders and owners and you have to solve things with them,” Fico told Sme. “What is not understandable about that?”
The PM also said that whether or not he spent time in the Penta apartment is irrelevant as far as solving the Gorilla case, and that doing so is only an effort to distract from what is essential to the case. The Gorilla case, allegedly involves a file prepared by the Slovak Information Service (SIS) intelligence agency based on the alleged transcripts of recordings that indicate corrupt behaviour on the part of high-level politicians between the years 2005-06. Fico added that the investigation team has all of his support and that he is curious about whether any bribes were taken.
In the interview Fico restated that his remarks on minorities were misunderstood and he is sorry if people interpreted them differently from how they were meant. He says that he and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán have invested a lot in maintaining calm relations.
He also responded to questions over the refusal of President Ivan Gašparovič to appoint Jozef Čentéš as general prosecutor, saying that it is not president’s fault. Fico blamed it on the way Čentéš was elected and on his behaviour following the election.
When Sme indicated that the president is following Fico’s instructions, the PM asked the daily to give more respect to the functions of the president.
When the opposition parties were asked to assess the first year following Smer’s landslide election victory, chair of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) Ján Figeľ said that the period has been one of political stability, but also one of irresponsible decisions with harmful and antisocial consequences, the TASR newswire reported on March 8.
Moreover, the governing Smer won the 2012 general election thanks to a trick played on people, claimed Figeľ, referring to what he called a discrepancy between pre-election promises and the current reality. Prior to the election, the social democratic Smer pledged to provide certainties in the form of stable jobs, permanent economic growth, a higher standard of living, big investment projects and increases in taxes only for the well off.
Conversely, the Smer government has brought record-breaking unemployment, a rapid slowdown in the economy, decreases in real salaries, no big investments and tax hikes for all, TASR wrote.
Pavol Frešo, chair of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), said that Smer is a professional, first-class party in terms of its effectiveness and results on the political scene. This is why it tops the pre-election polls; it does its work very well, although its activities and values stand on dubious foundations.
Frešo attributed Slovakia’s current state to the leftist measures of the governing party. He identified Smer’s decision to scrap the flat-tax as the cabinet’s biggest mistake.
“The premier put ideology above the economy,” said Frešo, as quoted by TASR, adding that “it was a great mistake.”
Fico responded that the austerity measures approved by the cabinet over the past 11 months have been good.
“I am not claiming that we don't make mistakes, though,” Fico told TASR. “If it emerges in the future, based on facts and analyses, that a decision of ours literally harmed the business sector [or] economic growth, we are ready to reassess [our decisions].”
Fico views the past year as having been difficult, but thinks that there may be reason for optimism, “as the second half of 2013 is expected to bring growth [in terms of the economy], which is expected only to continue in 2014”.
“Slovakia will be one of the few countries with positive economic growth, which means that [our policies] are not as bad as our opposition likes to proclaim after all,” the PM added. “Other countries, on the contrary, are deep in recession.”
Source: Sme, TASR
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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