Zitnanska Hints at Giving up on Prochazka's Bid, as It May Backfire

Zitnanska Hints at Giving up on Prochazka's Bid, as It May Backfire

Bratislava, March 15 (TASR) – Slovakia should give up on Radoslav Prochazka’s bid to become an additional judge of the EU General Court in Luxembourg and seek a new candidate, hinted Justice Minister Lucia Zitnanska (Most-Hid) after the Government session on Wednesday.

“Under unwritten procedural rules, the opinion of the advisory body is to be respected,” said the minister in reference to a statement by an advisory body to the Council of the EU, which took a dim view of Prochazka’s candidacy. The Government is to decide on whether it will insist on Prochazka regardless.

It’s customary for countries to heed the opinion of the advisory body, with the Czech Republic having been the only exception on one occasion. “And, in the end, the [Czech] candidate was rejected,” said Zitnanska, adding that Slovakia might do itself a disservice by insisting on Prochazka’s bid, as the entire situation might backfire on the country.

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (a Smer-SD nominee), whose ministry is in touch with European institutions concerning this issue, said recently that the decision on whether to press ahead with Prochazka or not is within the purview of the chairmen of the coalition parties.

Speaking on Wednesday, however, Lajcak wasn’t optimistic. “If the Government insists on Prochazka’s bid, it’s very likely to face a similar decision as the Czech candidate – rejection”.

Prime Minister and Smer chairman Robert Fico said last Friday that he’ll meet Prochazka shortly. He indicated that Prochazka is determined to eliminate some of the issues that prompted the committee to disapprove of his candidacy. “Given the enormous interest [in the candidacy] on the part of the candidate, who is linguistically adept and knows his stuff, we’ll have a serious discussion on his interest,” said Fico.

Jana Nemethova of Slovakia’s Judicial Council said earlier this year that the council had received a written opinion of the Council of the EU advisory body, which expressed concerns regarding the candidate’s integrity.

Nemethova said that the opinion “includes an extensive description of Prochazka’s indisputable qualities, such as his legal practice, proficiency, language skills and international experience”. Nevertheless, the committee was negative with regards to concerns about the candidate’s integrity that have not been dispelled, said Nemethova. No detailed reasoning was provided, and only a brief mention concerning the candidate’s alleged efforts to avoid taxation on certain expenditures during his presidential campaign in 2014 is included.

Prochazka was chosen to stand as Slovakia’s second candidate for the post after Maria Patakyova’s bid was rejected due to her inadequate command of the French language.

The Judicial Council chose Prochazka as the official candidate on September 19, 2016, with the Cabinet greenlighting the nomination on September 28. SaS leader Richard Sulik challenged Prochazka’s candidacy in Brussels. In a letter to the Court of Justice of the EU he pointed to what he called Prochazka’s lack of morals and the non-transparent financing of his two election campaigns – presidential and parliamentary.