Paska: Smer in Breach of Coalition Deal, Co-opting OLaNO to Harm SNS

SNS first vice-chairman Jaroslav Paska

Bratislava, August 8 (TASR) – The crisis engulfing the Government stems from the Smer-SD party’s failure to abide by the coalition agreement and from discrediting efforts masterminded by the Government Office that target the Slovak National Party (SNS), including by co-opting the Opposition OLaNO-NOVA party to this end, said first vice-chairman of the co-governing SNS Jaroslav Paska on Tuesday.

Paska didn’t rule out the possibility that SNS could withdraw from the Government, but he stressed that he’d prefer a different scenario. He added that SNS isn’t aiming for a Government rejig or reshuffles at ministries.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the situation that has arisen vis-a-vis the allocation of EU funds towards research and science, in conjunction with the Government Office’s efforts to harm SNS, asserted Paska.

“Mr. [Andrej] Danko [the SNS leader] has learnt that part of the Government Office has done things against him, and I’d rather leave it at that because it’s a personal thing,” said Paska.
He stated that this added to Danko’s uneasiness after a meeting of the Coalition Council last week, at which the scandal concerning EU funds for research that has implicated SNS and its nominee Peter Plavcan as Education, Science, Research and Sport Minister was discussed.

“He [Danko] has developed the impression that the prime minister [Robert Fico] was coercing him to the effect that Plavcan was under suspicion. We’ll do our best to facilitate a probe into the issue by Mr. Plavcan,” said Paska, before suggesting that problems involving EU funds actually go back to Plavcan’s predecessor in office [Smer-SD nominee Juraj Draxler – ed. note].

Besides, according to Paska, the leading governing Smer-SD party has been reluctant to vacate its posts in local authorities and municipalities as indicated in the coalition agreement.

“The argumentation [by Smer] that they’re [Smer’s] members and [it has] nowhere else to put them is untenable,” said Paska, adding that Smer agreed to make way for SNS’s experts, who would replace Smer nominees who lack the required qualifications.

To add insult to injury, SNS feels as though Smer is working in close liaison with OLaNO-NOVA in order to drag SNS through the mire, claimed Paska.

“Any material that is produced somewhere in Smer-SD then goes through OLaNO. We feel as though the two are sort of in sync. It feels as if the party [OLaNO-NOVA] was deployed to blacken SNS using materials produced by Smer-SD. It seems to us as if this combined effort were becoming too obvious. The Government Office has repeatedly rolled out activities aimed at bringing SNS into disrepute. They probably didn’t occur by coincidence,” said Paska before confirming that Danko did indeed have authority from SNS to terminate the coalition agreement if the worst came to the worst.

“It remains to be seen what tactics and strategy Smer will come up with,” said Paska, questioning Smer’s commitment to working together with SNS.

“If our cooperation continues to be this complicated, it won’t be of much benefit to Slovakia. Either we respect each other, or Mr. Fico will need to come up with an alternative,” said Paska. “We’re not aiming for any replacements in the Government or a shake-up of ministries,” he added.