Bratislava, May 23 (TASR) – Slovak agriculture is teetering on a precipice, and there’s a need to restore law and order in this sphere, as Slovakia has failed to use its EU membership to develop the sector but instead has seen the rise of shady practices by some special interest groups not interested in developing the country, stressed President Andrej Kiska at the congress of the Slovak Towns and Villages Association (ZMOS) held on Wednesday.
According to Kiska, political elites have shown more interest in the sector only after revelations concerning corruption linked to the murders of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee. Kiska pointed out that Slovakia is predominantly an agrarian country, but whereas in other fields the country has managed to use EU membership to boost the creation of jobs, the employment rate in agriculture has plummeted by half since 2004. “Since joining the Union, €3.3 billion in direct payments has flowed in, with another €3 billion earmarked for developing agriculture and the countryside. And the upshot? Productivity has stagnated, with 50,000 jobs in the countryside lost,” said Kiska.
Slovak agriculture was pushed onto the periphery of politicians’ interest and left in the hands of a handful of privileged entrepreneurs. “Gradually, it came to light that shady groups, even Mafia, had taken over agriculture,” stated the president, adding that these groups take advantage of the chaos prevailing in the land ownership system. “We need to restore law and order in the Slovak countryside,” he stressed.