Bratislava, June 16 (TASR) – Corruption has again become the hottest issue in Slovakia, said President Andrej Kiska in his State of the Republic address in Parliament on Thursday, with several Government ministers and ambassadors present.
“I can’t provide any counsel to Parliament and political parties that you wouldn’t already know. But I want to stress that if Slovakia continues in this way, it will have very serious consequences. There’s probably nobody who’d believe that somebody brought €12 million in cash in suitcases,” stated Kiska, probably in reference to the case of businessman Ladislav Basternak, who is supposed to have paid €12 million in cash for some flats before asking the state for VAT allowances, and the alleged involvement of Interior Minister Robert Kalinak and former finance and transport minister Jan Pociatek.
“In your opinion, how many people do actually believe that law enforcement bodies and tax authorities aren’t subject to any pressure, political or other, and that they’re absolutely independent?” asked Kiska, adding that the public expects major political scandals to be resolved as soon as possible.
Slovaks are now looking with envy at Romania, for example, where more than 1,500 people have been accused, charged and sentenced for corruption, including some leading politicians, said Kiska, who went on to complain that while Slovak politicians keep talking about combating corruption, this seems to be mere lip service, as “scandals keep dragging on for years before eventually fizzling out”.
According to Kiska, merely dismissing someone apparently involved in corruption from their political office isn’t enough. “The allocation of political responsibility doesn’t resolve any case; it’s a mere gesture of decency that is meant to calm the public down and allow the relevant bodies to operate,” said Kiska.
Turning to Slovakia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, due to begin as of July 1, the president said that this will serve as a sort of State of the Republic report.
“Our EU membership doesn’t have any reasonable alternative. Notions that Slovakia could function outside the Union are the very opposite of patriotism and represent a gamble instead,” stressed Kiska, adding that Slovak politicians have forgotten to say anything positive about the EU.
“The ‘dictate of Brussels’ is more of an empty political slogan than a true reflection of reality. There’s hardly anyone left who’d remind us that key decisions aren’t made by bureaucrats in Brussels but by popularly elected representatives in the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, with these decisions being the result of democratic votes, compromises and negotiations,” said Kiska.
Meanwhile, Kiska believes that Slovakia is well prepared for the presidency, which is to the credit of the country’s diplomacy and the former government, with the current Cabinet continuing this good work.
“Let’s present ourselves as friendly hosts, prudent moderators of the European debate and fervent co-creators of European unity,” appealed the president.