Bratislava, June 5 (TASR) – The coronavirus pandemic and its effects, protecting the most vulnerable, solidarity, support for science, the economy, education reform, support for health care, the rule of law and necessary changes to the judiciary and at prosecutors’ offices were the key topics of President Zuzana Caputova’s State of the Republic Address in Parliament on Friday.
Coronavirus has shown that people in Slovakia are capable of solidarity and mutual support, said Caputova.
“I’m sorry to see the opposite tendency as well, however,” said the president, pointing to people who have called for changes regarding some cultural and ethical issues. She claimed that the process lacks an honest debate involving both experts and the public.
The president praised the work of scientists during the pandemic before going on to criticise what she views as insufficient financial support for science in Slovakia, while “hundreds of millions” of euros from state funds meant for science ended up in the hands of “entities leeching off science” recently.
Still reflecting on coronavirus and the related shutdown of schools for more than two months, Caputova said that this experience provides an opportunity for a “thorough curricular revision”. She pointed to the current differences in opportunities for children who come from various economic backgrounds.
As health care hasn’t been receiving enough funds for a long time, Caputova pointed to a lack of medical personnel and called for better remuneration in the health-care and nursing sectors.
Conversely, the president praised moves aimed at purifying the judiciary, as “we’re witnessing trials of economically influential people who had associates in the judiciary and politics”, apart from the prosecution of several judges.
Caputova called for significant changes to the disciplinary system for judges, while the “current model of prosecutors’ offices needs to be improved and become divorced from political interference by giving a boost to public supervision and the procedural independence of prosecutors”.
As for economic issues, Caputova criticised the condition of digital infrastructure and stressed that Slovakia’s economic model based on low salaries and attracting foreign direct investment seems to have exhausted itself. So, Slovakia now needs to focus on building a strong domestic business environment.
“The fact that we’re an assembly hall for global car brands should be considered as a transitory period that has had its positives, but we should realise that we must extricate ourselves from this,” added Caputova.