Beblavy: Foreign Affairs Ministry Concealing Info in Evka Agency Case

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Bratislava, December 19 (TASR) – The Foreign and European Affairs Ministry has provided MPs with almost none of the key documents that they demanded during a probe that they carried out at the ministry, MP Miroslav Beblavy (Independent) told a news conference held on Parliament’s premises on Monday.

Moreover, MPs weren’t allowed to speak to any ministry employees who might have revealed something, said Beblavy. Meanwhile, the data available to MPs confirm that the initial event to mark the beginning of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU was wasteful and poorly prepared, stated Beblavy, adding that the ministry is concealing information and manipulating the public.

MPs of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee carried out a probe at the ministry in early December to examine whether cultural events surrounding the Slovak presidency were overpriced, as alleged by former ministry employees Zuzana Hlavkova and Pavol Szalai. The ministry rejects these accusations.

According to Beblavy, they requested from the ministry a document containing the estimated price of the order at the time when the whole event was being prepared. “Instead, the ministry provided an irrelevant document from the present time retroactively explaining why everything was okay according to the ministry,” said Beblavy. MPs weren’t given a description of the supplier’s selection process, or of the approval process concerning Evka agency’s selection from among three bids presented within the procurement.

Beblavy also said that MPs were only able to speak to ministry employees who wouldn’t tell them “anything inappropriate”. The ministry ordered an event for €156,000 from Evka agency based on a document that was incomplete and misleading. “The whole document contains four lines on the proposed programme and six lines about the performances. The rest was only banalities,” said Beblavy.

The MP is positive that the ministry has failed to disprove any of Hlavkova’s key assertions. “Data available to us confirm that it was an uneconomical and poorly prepared event and that [former TV Markiza director] Zuzana Tapakova participated in its preparation,” said Beblavy. Concerning the cost of the event, the MPs think that “at least €247,041 was spent on it”. This includes the payment for Evka agency, the rental of the Slovak National Theatre, payments to performers and catering, added Beblavy.

Beblavy intends to present his findings to the other members of the parliamentary committee, Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD), Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (a Smer-SD nominee), Finance Minister Peter Kazimir (Smer-SD), the Supreme Audit Office and the Public Procurements Office.

The ministry has reacted to Beblavy’s claims. “This is a subjective and selective interpretation of the ministry’s documents by a single MP. We provided the foreign affairs committee with everything we could have provided and everything that we were supposed to provide in line with the law. Moreover, we’re actively cooperating on our own initiative with top state audit authorities that we asked to examine presidency-related events,” ministry spokesman Peter Stano told TASR.

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