Fico: Kotleba may lose power to tap EU funds

PRIME Minister Robert Fico said that the Banská Bystrica regional authority may see its decision-making powers concenring drawing of European Union funds taken away because of alleged idleness by Governor Marian Kotleba.

Marian Kotleba.Marian Kotleba. (Source: SME)

The city of Banská Bystrica, rather than regional authorities would instead be empowered to tap money from Brussels.  

"We have to consider it seriously, as it’s an unprecedented move that may cause significant tension,” Fico said at an away-from-home government session in Banská Bystrica on February 25. “Nevertheless, we don’t see any reason why people in the city of Banská Bystrica and in the region should suffer due to the fact that somebody has been elected experimentally as governor.” 

Kotleba, who has a history of racist statements and acts, was elected as governor in late 2013 in a run-off against the Smer candidate Vladimír Maňka. Political analysts have suggested that Kotleba’s success was fuelled partly by anti-Roma sentiments and partly by the legitimisation of nationalist discourse by Fico’s first government.

Kotleba’s lack of effort has cost the region tens of millions of euros that could have been used for repairing roads or to help disabled children, according to Fico. In addition, the region is running the risk of missing out on additional funds.

Banská Bystrica Self-governing Region (BBSK) spokesman Vladimír Gurtler called Fico's statement an inadequate attack of lawfully elected representative of the regional administration and deemed such step inacceptable and in conflict with Slovak laws and constitution. Moreover, he called this measure against just one of eight Slovak self-governing regions discriminatory. He added that €800,000 has been lost due to actions by former governor Maňka. The use of EU funds towards repairs of a home for disabled children was nixed by regional councillors representing the Smer party, he added.

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