Fico: I Expect NGOs to Help Combating Corruption Thanks to EU Funds

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Prime Minister Robert Fico (right), Government Proxy for Civic Society Development Martin Giertl (middle) and head of the department for the Operational Programme 'Effective Public Administration' under the Interior Ministry Samuel Arbe (left) (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, May 11 (TASR) – The European Union will support the development of civil society in Slovakia with the sum of €15 million, stated Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) on Thursday, adding that he expects non-governmental organisations to come up with projects that will help the current Government in fighting corruption.

On the occasion of launching the call for drawing EU funds for the third sector, the Government Office organised a press conference. In this regard, the premier met Government Proxy for Civic Society Development Martin Giertl as well as head of the department for the Operational Programme ‘Effective Public Administration’ under the Interior Ministry Samuel Arbe.

“We’re talking about a sum of €15 million, which is the first such financial package in the history of Slovakia designed for NGOs,” said Fico.

“The specific outcome of today’s talks is only one of many that I’ve prepared for the next period. I believe that non-governmental and non-profit organisations will submit projects in terms of combating corruption … that will enable us to improve and streamline decision-making processes and at the same time they will enable the widest possible segment of the public to participate in these processes,” he added.

According to the prime minister, worries that the third sector, which basically criticises the state, will be in a conflict of interest situation if it receives funds from the state are irrelevant.

“I don’t see why any non-profit and non-governmental organisation should worry about being in a conflict of interest situation. It’s not in conflict, because it has to co-finance its project with five percent. Moreover, the sum of money concerned, ranging from €100,000 to €400,000 [per project], is fully covered by EU funds. It has nothing to do with the state,” said Fico.

“We’ve been looking for a demand on the part of society for two years, we’ve been addressing NGOs for two years,” said Giertl in this regard, adding that he hopes that this money will be used to address the issues of public policies and corruption in Slovakia.

The first call for EU funds worth €8 million is aimed at creating better public policy, fighting corruption and promoting transparency in public administration. The second call worth €7 million is aimed at deepening people’s awareness and people’s participation in public policies.