Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini regrets that the murder of a journalist and the events that followed split society into two big camps divided by "some sort of mental 'Berlin wall' through which we yell at each other and do not listen to each other".
Pellegrini addressed the Slovak Republic on the public-service RTVS, one hour after President Andrej Kiska delivered his annual New Year's address. Pelligrini stressed that Slovakia is among the most advanced democracies after 25 years of statehood, and thanked the citizens of the country for making that happen.
The prime minister labelled 2018 an exceptional and tragic year, "the year that tested how advanced our democracy is", due to the first-ever murder of a journalist in the country's history.
Pellegrini talks about a cold war
"In this politically tough time, we have managed to take mature statesman-like decisions that returned political stability to Slovakia," Pellegrini said. He perceives people as ashamed for the success of Slovakia and its people.
Slovakia is going through good times economically, Pellegrini said and mentioned the low unemployment rate, the first-ever balanced state budget, and the unprecedented social measures that the government took, like free lunches for school children. More social measures are in the pipeline, like longer maternal leave or, alternatively, higher parental allowance.
Politically, however, there is a cold war raging.
"I must warn you about this trend, because the destruction of trust in the state leads to no winners," Pellegrini said. "Extremism and radicalism are waiting for their chance, hiding on social networks."
Pellegrini refused these "Berlin-wall politics" and offered cooperation to every citizen.
Slovakia needs to look to the future
"We no longer need to deal with the economic survival of the state, securing basic institutions, or basic foreign policy orientation. These issues are settled. Today we only need to look where we see Slovakia in the next 20 to 30 years, what are its chances and hopes, and what we need to be wary about," Pellegrini said.
He also mentioned the ageing population of Slovakia as one of the main challenges, along with the ever more problematic lack of workforce, as well as the digitalisation in all walks of life.
The prime minister pledged to come up with his response to these challenges soon, and called on the media to play their own part responsibly.
"We are a successful nation that never got lost in the world even though many did not believe in it," Pellegrini concluded before he wished a happy New Year to everyone.
2. Jan 2019 at 13:54 | Michaela Terenzani