SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

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ANDREJ Kiska’s spokesman Peter Petrus gave his boss a nice gift to celebrate his first 100 days as head of state – he quit. And there are rumours that other shifts in the president’s inner circle are occurring. But save for these small personal turbulences, Kiska has had a good start, especially in the key areas.

ANDREJ Kiska’s spokesman Peter Petrus gave his boss a nice gift to celebrate his first 100 days as head of state – he quit. And there are rumours that other shifts in the president’s inner circle are occurring. But save for these small personal turbulences, Kiska has had a good start, especially in the key areas.

Firstly, there is the judiciary. There are legitimate objections to some of his procedural decisions, but overall, the president’s decision to play an active role in this area can only be welcomed. The fact that the Supreme Court will have a new boss and the era of the controversial Štefan Harabin is over, is in part a result of Kiska’s efforts. The situation at the Constitutional Court and the General Prosecution, both of which have had their share of trouble in recent years, remains uncertain. But a clear change of tone can be sensed.

Secondly, Kiska plays a constructive role in foreign affairs. Given the fact that Prime Minister Robert Fico is on a clearly pro-Russian course, it helps to have a head of state that is aware of the fact that Slovakia is in fact a member of the EU and NATO, and it’s in our vital interest to stick with the West.

Then there is the country’s cultural war. Recent opinion polls show that an overwhelming majority of Slovaks are against granting homosexuals any additional rights. But that does not make the planned referendum on the subject legal or desirable. It seems likely that the referendum questions do, in fact, concern basic human rights, and are thus not eligible to be the subject of a plebiscite. And the vote will likely have a deeply divisive effect on society. For these reasons it is good that Kiska asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the admissibility of the referendum topics, for now at least postponing the hysteria.

And finally, the new president is surrounding himself with different types of people. NGO representatives, IT managers and public activists have become regular visitors to the presidential palace. Accepting the ice bucket challenge may have been a little too much for a head of state, but at least it indicates that Kiska knows what YouTube and Facebook are. Given that his predecessor, Ivan Gašparovič, believed that “Google serves for discussions over the internet”, that is a step forward. It is still too early to pass any serious judgement, but if Kiska stays the course, he can be a good president.

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