Education Minister Peter Plavcan Steps Down

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Education Minister Peter Plavcan announcing his resignation on August 17, 2017 (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, August 17 (TASR) – Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport Peter Plavcan (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) stepped down from his post on Thursday, TASR learnt on the same day.

It was Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) who urged Plavcan on Wednesday (August 16) to tender his resignation, and SNS chair Andrej Danko accepted Fico’s call.

“After careful consideration and much thought, I’m resigning from the post of the Minister of Education, Science, Research and Sport because what was happening in recent days was absolutely over the line,” said Plavcan, adding that he needs to protect his family and the party that nominated him as minister.

Plavcan also extended his thanks to SNS for the opportunity to be a minister. He claimed that over the year and half, he had managed to kickstart processes paving the way for drafting the vision of education’s development. For the first time in modern Slovakia’s history, the Education Ministry’s budget was augmented and there was the continuation of salary hikes for teachers. “I hope that this process will continue because our teachers deserve it. They have our children in their hands and we want those children educated and capable of taking over this state in the future,” he added.

Since early July, the ministry has been taking flak over the distribution of European Funds for research and innovation, as subsidies were provided to companies that had never done research before. Minister Plavcan put a stop to the dubious programme and decided to revise it. Later, the European Commission suspended payments for four project calls organised by the ministry and also banned the ministry from inking new contracts with subsidy applicants. The distribution of European Funds is being looked into by the European Anti-fraud Office as well as the National Criminal Agency.

The Opposition has been demanding Plavcan’s ouster ever since the scandal erupted. The circumstances also contributed to the Government crisis and SNS’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the coalition agreement.