Fico: I’ll Encourage People Not to Be Afraid to Report Corruption

Prime Minister Robert Fico (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, March 1 (TASR) – Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) is launching his own initiative in the fight against corruption and plans to encourage people not to be afraid to report this phenomenon so detrimental to society, TASR learnt on Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference on the same day, Fico voiced his determination to revamp the Whistleblower Act and make it more appealing following his meeting with representatives of NGOs Transparency International Slovensko, the Fair-play Alliance and the Let’s Stop Corruption Foundation earlier in the day. The framework meeting was initiated by the prime minister with an eye towards identifying the scope for cooperation between the Cabinet and the third sector.

Fico is slated to meet the NGOs again on March 15, when they are expected to present their proposals to improve the openness and transparency of law enforcement and free access to information.

The prime minister pointed to a recent case in which cooperation between the police and the owner of a farm cooperative led to charges of corruption being pressed against an employee of the Agricultural Payment Agency. “I’d be glad if we showed the Slovak public that we care about cutting the leeway for corruption and non-transparency to the maximum degree possible,” said Fico.

Fico called for a change in the public debate on the issue, as he believes that some politicians have turned corruption into their own political agenda and are slinging accusations everywhere without concrete evidence to back them up. “I want us to make progress because we’re only hurting ourselves with pointless politically motivated accusations where no relevant evidence exists,” he claimed, adding that his Government operates under a different microscope and is the “victim of double standards”.

The NGO officials stated that they will attempt to cooperate with the prime minister. “We wouldn’t be happy if today’s meeting turned out to lead to a series of meetings in which we’ll negotiate ourselves to death but with no results to show for it,” said Pavel Sibyla, director of the Let’s Stop Corruption foundation. “What’s important for us is whether this will lead to some real changes or whether we’re doing this only for some press conferences and nice statements for the media.”

“From Transparency International Slovensko’s point of view, personnel issues are way more important than laws. We have pretty much the same laws as anywhere else in the EU, but the results are significantly subpar,” said director Gabriel Sipos. “I don’t think that the prime minister gave us any specific pledge,” he added.