Books on Slovakia
Update No: 126 - (26/11/07)
Dispute over a land deal threatens coalition, says Smer
Its former dictator, Vladimir Meciar, continues to haunt Slovakian politics. He
had the good grace to accept the verdict of the polls nine years ago in 1998 and
stand down and has thus been able to remain in mainstream politics. His party is
now causing ructions inside the governing coalition, which would lose its
majority in parliament without its support.
The Slovak senior ruling party, Smer-Social Democracy of Prime Minister Robert
Fico, said on November 20 that a dispute over a (corrupt) land deal threatens
the existence of the coalition government. "The situation in the governing
coalition is serious," Silvia Glendova, a spokeswoman for Smer, told Slovak
TA3 news television.
She said her party blamed the junior People's Party- Movement for a Democratic
Slovakia of Meciar. "Smer is not interested in participating in a coalition
which would tolerate such managing of land in the Slovak Land Fund,"
At issue is a piece of land near the High Tatras mountain range that was
purchased by a company close to Meciar's party for some 13 million koruna
(euro392,300; US$580,000) from owners who had received it as restitution in a
deal approved by the Slovak Land Fund. The land's real value is reportedly 1.5
billion koruna (euro45.3 million; US$67.0 million). Fico's Smer called the deal
The Slovak agriculture minister, Miroslav Jurena, who is from Meciar's party, is
in charge of the fund. That is the key.
It has been revealed that Slovak Land Fund (SPF) vice-chairman Briza signed an
agreement in April on the basis of which former owners of land near Michalovce (Kosice
region) were given property in Velky Slavkov near the High Tatra Mountains as
restitution. The owners then sold the land to a company called GVM, which is
said to be close to Meciar, for nearly Sk13 million (€391,000), despite the
fact that its real market value was Sk1.5 billion.
The ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party led by Jan Slota is the remaining
party in the government, which would lose its parliamentary majority without
Governing-coalition Smer-SD party said at its extraordinary session on November
20 that the situation in the governing coalition is "serious, as LS-HZDS is
opposing further measures aimed at removing the consequences of the scandalous
transfer of land at the Slovak Land Fund (SPF) carried out by an LS-HZDS
Smer makes clear its displeasure
"Smer-SD isn't interested in being part of a governing coalition that turns
a blind eye to manipulating SPF land in a manner that was typical of (Mikulas)
Dzurinda's government," Prime Minister Robert Fico spokesperson Silvia
Glendova told SLOVAKIA.
According to Fico, the contracts signed by SPF vice-chairman Branislav Briza at
the time he was in charge instead of the SPF chairman, are scandalous. As a
result, Fico insisted that Agriculture Minister Miroslav Jurena (a HZDS nominee)
should dismiss Briza over the land deal - otherwise, Jurena might lose Fico's
Fico's initiative was followed by Meciar's ultimatum that if the premier
expresses his loss of trust in Jurena, HZDS will express its lack of confidence
in Fico. Fico stressed that his party would not be scared by threats and views
the assumption of personal, political and legal responsibility for the scandal
as a matter of principle, even if it led to a collapse of the governing
In the end, Briza resigned on November 15. He has kept his position on the SPF
Fico tops political trustworthiness chart in November; Slota tops
While the politicians are losing trust in each other, it is interesting to see
what the general public think of them.
In an unusual opinion poll survey, measuring not just popularity, but lack of it
too, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico remains the most trusted politician in
Slovakia, while Slota, the leader of the junior partner in the coalition, is the
least trusted politician.
A public opinion poll by the MVK agency shows that in November Fico, leader of
Smer. had the trust of 39.4 percent of Slovak citizens. President Ivan Gašparovic
follows with 26.9 percent. The third most trustworthy politician in Slovakia is
Iveta Radicová, deputy-chair of the opposition SDKÚ and former labour
minister, with 18.4 percent.
The top five is rounded off by Ján Slota, the chairman of the junior coalition
SNS partner, with 16.3 percent; and Smer Interior Minister Robert Kalinák, with
Slota is also seen as the most untrustworthy politician, with 37.2 percent, a
telling statistic. The chairman of the opposition SDKÚ and former PM Mikuláš
Dzurinda follows with 33.7 percent as the second most unpopular, then comes HZDS
chairman Vladimír Meciar third, with 32.7 percent. Fico was named as
untrustworthy by 21.6 percent of the respondents.
Each respondent was asked to name three trusted politicians, so the results add
up to more than 100 percent. The poll was conducted on a sample of 1,114
respondents in early November.
Kazakh-Slovakian relations on the rise
Slovakia is very keen to lessen its energy dependence on Russia, which provides
the bulk of its energy supplies. Now that Kazakhstan is beginning to be able to
transport its Caspian sea oil via Azerbaijan and the Southern Caucasus route, it
is becoming a most attractive alternative.
Issues of trade and economic cooperation dominated Kazakhstani President
Nursultan Nazarbayev's two-day visit to Slovakia in November.
Nazarbayev had talks with Fico, who told him about Slovakia's interest in
importing oil and gas from Kazakhstan and in handling a part of the transit of
Kazakhstani hydrocarbons to Western Europe. Government officials in Bratislava
believe these supplies may begin within the next five years.
November 20 was the main day of the visit, as Nazarbayev had talks with Slovak
President Ivan Gasparovic and parliament speaker Pavol Paska. The sides signed
four documents pertaining to expansion of trade and contacts in the humanitarian
"Slovakia considers Kazakhstan to be a most promising partner in Asia and
the Caspian littoral area," Marek Trubac, the Slovak president's press
secretary told Itar-tass. "Nursultan Nazarbayev's visit will herald in a
new stage of Kazakhstani-Slovak relations and will become the most crucial event
in the history of this relationship in the past few years," Trubac said.