SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Džentlmen

IT HAS been noted here before that the true meaning of many words which find their way into Slovak gets lost in translation. Terms such as transparency, rule of law, or even democracy have all found their unique, central European identity. What’s even more interesting is how foreigners themselves tend to adapt. Whereas in Germany, the Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft would likely be cautious about keeping their promises, in their local dealings a “gentlemen’s agreement” means that although you agree not to sell your 50-percent share in the Petit Press media house to Andrej Babiš, or controversial local investment groups, you don’t mind selling to a middleman who will only go on to sell the publishing house to Penta, one of such groups.

IT HAS been noted here before that the true meaning of many words which find their way into Slovak gets lost in translation. Terms such as transparency, rule of law, or even democracy have all found their unique, central European identity. What’s even more interesting is how foreigners themselves tend to adapt. Whereas in Germany, the Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft would likely be cautious about keeping their promises, in their local dealings a “gentlemen’s agreement” means that although you agree not to sell your 50-percent share in the Petit Press media house to Andrej Babiš, or controversial local investment groups, you don’t mind selling to a middleman who will only go on to sell the publishing house to Penta, one of such groups.

This is not the first example of a foreign investor showing little sense of social responsibility. Less than two years ago U. S. Steel threatened to sell off their Košice plant to Russian or Ukrainian investors. Just imagine one of the country’s key assets in either of those hands under the current geopolitical circumstances. For some time Italian energy giant Enel also seemed to be considering Russians as prospective buyers of their share in Slovenské Elektrárne.

Advocates of foreign investment have always stressed several positives Western companies bring – not only the money and the know-how, but also the corporate ethics, which can then spread to influence entire regions or even the country as a whole. In general, that is definitely the case. But recent months make it clear that sometimes gentlemen can turn into džentlmen.

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