Fico: Purpose of Extraordinary Session to Stir Up Conflict and Fuel Apathy

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Bratislava, February 16 (TASR) – The purpose of the ongoing extraordinary parliamentary session is to stir up conflict and to fuel public apathy towards standard political parties, said Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) on Thursday in a speech at the session, in which he faces an Opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion relating to the energy price scandal.

“I’m appealing to coalition MPs, particularly MPs of Smer-SD, not to let themselves be drawn into this. We know what [OLaNO-NOVA chairman] Igor Matovic and others are up to: chaos and disintegration – because they have nothing else to offer. I’m asking lawmakers to do their regular jobs instead,” said Fico, who then left the chamber followed by the majority of coalition lawmakers.

Earlier in his speech Fico stressed that when politicians were busy drafting the new Slovak Constitution in June 1992, on the eve of the disintegration of Czechoslovakia, one of the issues discussed at length was no-confidence votes in the prime minister. “We laboured under the presumption that this would be an enormously serious institution that wouldn’t be abused and would be employed only rarely. It’s only to show respect for the Constitution that I’m among you here today because we certainly can’t have any respect for the submitter and the reasons behind the proposal,” said Fico.

“I was accused of halting the payment of dividends from [electricity utility] Slovenske elektrarne in order to use them to complete the construction of Mochovce [nuclear power plant]. Don’t be ridiculous; that was part of the privatisation deal in 2005 and 2006, and [then finance minister] Ivan Miklos signed it in three letters,” said Fico.

Fico also rejected the notion that licences for operating solar power plants have been handed out liberally under his Government. “The bulk of photovoltaics was installed in 2011. You did that,” he told the Opposition, part of which was included in the government of Iveta Radicova (2010-12).

“In 2008, the German and French owners of [gas utility] SPP proposed a drastic gas charge hike. We countered with a proposal that this decision would no longer be the purview of the board of directors but rather of the general assembly of shareholders. But then, in 2010-12 under the government of Iveta Radicova, you returned that to the board of directors, in which the state is in a minority,” claimed Fico.

According to Fico, SPP submitted a motion calling for a 25-percent gas charge hike in 2010-12. “Then economy minister Juraj Miskov [then Freedom and Solidarity/SaS] instantly accommodated them by attempting to appoint a person from SPP to the post of head of the Office for the Regulation of Network Industries (URSO) at the very least. SaS was appointing to energy utility posts people from its election slate who failed to make it into parliament. And SaS nominees are entangled in a legal battle with Kosice Heating Company over their [golden] parachutes worth €90,000 even as we speak.”