Fico Rejects the EC Report on Rule of Law, Sends Open Letter to EC President

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Smer-SD leader Robert Fico (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, July 20 (TASR) – The European Commission’s (EC) report on the state of the rule of law in Slovakia is a farce, ex-premier and leader of opposition Smer-SD Robert Fico said on Wednesday.

In an open letter he sent to EC President Ursula von der Leyen, Fico wrote that the EC should deal with the situation in Slovakia, as principles of the rule of law are violated there.

“After reading the EC’s report on the rule of law in Slovakia, everyone must have the feeling that everything in Slovakia is in line with international standards. However, I must reject the report as unqualified and untrue. It’s enough to look at sources from which the EC drew [the information for the report],” stated Fico.

Fico understands that the EU has a wide agenda and Slovakia is a small country, but if the Commission wants to maintain a kind of credibility, it must deal with the “critical situation in Slovakia”, he said.

According to Fico, the EC report looks ridiculous if compared to media information about how some persons were treated in custody. He also reminded the EC of the Constitutional Court’s statements regarding violation of human rights of persons while in custody in some cases.

Fico talked about the system of abuse of criminal law against the opposition. According to Fico, it is covered by the Special Prosecutor’s Office (USP). He pointed to the political past of USP chief Daniel Lipsic. Fico also criticised the Specialised Criminal Court (STS) and the National Crime Agency, including their management. He pointed to charges pressed against some police investigators.

The EC last week issued a report on the rule of law in EU member states. Six recommendations stem from it for Slovakia. These concern, for example, the submission of proposals to regulate lobbying and to strengthen legislation on conflict of interests and property declarations. The EC also calls for better coordination between law enforcement authorities and for ensuring objectivity of the Prosecutor’s Office’s decisions. It also recommends continuing to push for legislative changes in order to limit the Prosecutor-General’s (PG) power to annul the decisions of the Prosecutor’s Office. It also talks about the need for better protection of journalists and strengthening of independent management and editorial independence of public media.