Bratislava: US Embassy Must Prove its Security Fence is Legal by February 3d

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Enclosed by security fence (photo by tvnoviny.sk)

Bratislava, January 28 (TASR) – The United States Embassy to Slovakia must prove that its security fence on the Hviezdoslavovo Namestie in Bratislava is a legal structure by February 3, Bratislava Old Town spokesperson Nora Gubkova has told TASR.

“If the Embassy won’t comply, the Construction Office of Bratislava Old Town borough will begin at its own initiative the proceedings on ex post facto legalisation or removal of the structure,” said Gubkova.

In September 2016, Bratislava city councillors decided, in order to get rid of the security fence from the city centre, not to extend the rental of the city’s land under the US Embassy building. The decision, however, came as a reversal on the heels of the previous approval dated from June to extend the rental until 2019, with the Embassy due to pay €481,000 annually for the land. At the same time, the US Embassy was supposed to resolve its relocation by a set deadline. The US Embassy confirmed to TASR that it was seeking new residence and hoped to conclude contractual talks with the owners as early as by the end of 2016.

The American side signed the addendum to the rental contract only after the previous rent had expired. In order to prevent any legal ambiguity, the city council deliberated on the rental extension once again by discussing a new rental contract, similar to the one from June. This time, however, the councillors decided not to approve the contract, as they took objection to the clause that financial resources for rent must be approved on behalf of the US Embassy by the US Congress.

Representatives of the US Embassy declared that they’re ready to pay the rent accordingly and on schedule. Despite this, a number of councillors claimed that Bratislava might not see the money and joined the ranks of long-term critics of the American fence surrounding the historic building. “This fence is not only a blemish in the face of the public space and the only promenade square of the capital, it even falls short in providing any defence from either terrorist attacks or vandals,” said councillor Martin Borgula, the most vocal critic of the fence.

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