Viewing cable 06BRATISLAVA977
Title: SLOVAKIA POLITICAL ROUND-UP DECEMBER 21, 2006

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06BRATISLAVA9772006-12-21 12:14:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Bratislava
VZCZCXRO1334
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHSL #0977/01 3551214
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211214Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0554
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRATISLAVA 000977 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL SOCI LO LH
SUBJECT: SLOVAKIA POLITICAL ROUND-UP DECEMBER 21, 2006 
 
REF: A. BRATISLAVA 862 
     ¶B. BRATISLAVA 830 
     ¶C. BRATISLAVA 964 
     ¶D. BRATISLAVA 966 
     ¶E. BRATISLAVA 750 
     ¶F. BRATISLAVA 733 
     ¶G. BRATISLAVA 754 
     ¶H. BRATISLAVA 764 
     ¶I. BRATISLAVA 817 
 
THE PROS AND CONS OF FOIA IN THE GOS 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶1. (SBU) Since the new Smer-SNS-HZDS (Smer-Social Democracy, 
Slovak National Party, Movement for a Democratic Slovakia) 
government took office in July, the Embassy has faced 
increased difficulty in the responsiveness of established 
contacts from several ministries.  Notably in the Ministries 
of Interior (MOI) and Justice (MOJ), several employees with a 
history of friendly relations with the Embassy have declined 
official meetings and said that they can no longer provide 
the type of information that in the past was considered 
mundane.  For example, in requesting annual police statistics 
on the number of arrests made for rape, domestic violence, 
trafficking in persons, etc (for the annual Human Rights 
Report), MOI contacts are now instructing us to submit a 
formal FOIA-equivalent request.  At least one contact told us 
frankly that he is nervous that he could lose his job since 
he was favored by someone in the previous government 
administration.  (COMMENT. We have noticed an initial 
attitude of suspicion or distrust in many meetings with new 
MPs and government officials, which we overcome only through 
frequent dialogue and discussion.  We are aggressively 
seeking meetings with these newcomers and have coined a new 
phrase for our message-board: "Gone Smering."  END COMMENT.) 
 
¶2. (U) On December 13, parliament approved the first reading 
of a proposed law which included an amendment to make the 
government cabinet meetings "non-public."  Currently, the 
weekly meetings are tape recorded or filmed, and concerned 
parties can use the FOIA procedure to gain access to the 
recordings so long as the topics discussed were not 
classified.  If the draft law is approved through three 
readings of parliament and signed by the president, the 
cabinet meetings will no longer be subject to FOIA requests. 
This is the second attempt of the new government to close its 
cabinet meetings.  The first attempt in July was 
unsuccessful.  In a strategy unusual in Slovakia, the 
amendment was added to an unrelated draft law submitted by 
the Ministry of Labor concerning tripartite labor negotiation 
procedures. 
 
 
JUSTICE IN THE COURT SYSTEM? 
---------------------------- 
 
¶3. (SBU) Minister of Justice Stefan Harabin is continuing his 
recalls of officials in the judicial and legal structures who 
were affiliated with former Justice Minister Daniel Lipsic 
(ref B).  Some of the latest victims include Alena Polackova, 
the Slovak representative to the European Court for Human 
Rights, and Maria Kolikova, Director of the Center for Legal 
Aid, a government-funded agency which provides free legal 
counsel to the poor.  Approximately 60 employees of the 
center and several NGO leaders signed a petition for Kolikova 
to be reinstated.  A MOJ contact told us that Harabin has 
changed nearly all officials at the director level within his 
Ministry.  The only department which remains untouched is 
International Affairs, where the current Director is 
unmatched in his language skills and knowledge of EU 
intricacies. 
 
¶4. (U) Parliament needs to add one more name to the list of 
nominees to fill nine vacant seats on the Constitutional 
Court (refs A and B).  Due to a parliamentary recess, the 
earliest time that the last nominee can be added to the list 
is mid-January.  Most of the shortlisted candidates are 
nominees of the government coalition.  After the 18-name 
nominee list is completed, it will go to President Ivan 
Gasparovic, who will choose the nine new justices and 
designate one of the judges as the chairman of the court. 
Speculation, but no decisive information, continues on 
whether Gasparovic will select Harabin, who is on the nominee 
list, for a 12-year appointment to the Constitutional Court, 
thereby removing him from the post of Justice Minister. 
 
¶5. (SBU) After months of silence on the issue, Prime Minister 
Fico announced publicly, in a speech to the Smer party 
congress on December 9 (ref C), and privately (ref D) that he 
is in favor of keeping the Special Court for corruption and 
organized crime (ref B), but with some changes such as 
removing minor bribery cases from the Court's purview. 
 
BRATISLAVA 00000977  002 OF 002 
 
 
Minister of Interior Kalinak, also with Smer, offered the 
same stance in a media interview the day prior.  Harabin, a 
HZDS-appointee, had officially proposed the closure of the 
Special Court in September, having first mentioned the idea 
publicly in August. 
 
 
NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS: ETHNIC TENSIONS ON BACK BURNER 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
¶6. (SBU) Ethnic Slovak vs ethnic Hungarian tensions (refs E 
and F) have calmed down considerably since the 
August-September peak.  For the most part, it has been a 
non-issue for several months as far as domestic politics and 
the media are concerned.  We have frequent discussions with 
ethnic Hungarian leaders, and they have not been complaining 
to us recently of discrimination or unfair treatment.  In 
terms of Slovak politics, both sides have their reasons for 
staying out of the spotlight at the moment.  SMK (Party of 
the Hungarian Coalition) is dealing with internal issues, in 
particular coping with its position as an opposition party. 
On the other side, Jan Slota of SNS has, for the most part, 
been keeping quiet -- likely at the request of PM Fico. 
 
 
MEANWHILE, IN THE HEDVIGA MALINOVA CASE... 
------------------------------------------ 
 
¶7. (U) On November 30, police in Nitra started a criminal 
investigation against Hedviga Malinova, the ethnic Hungarian 
student who was allegedly attacked for speaking Hungarian in 
the city of Nitra (refs F-I), for making a false claim 
regarding that attack.  Malinova, who insists that the attack 
took place, filed a complaint in December with the 
Constitutional Court against the Nitra Prosecutor's Office 
and the Nitra Police Directorate on the basis that they 
breached her right to protection against inhumane and 
humiliating treatment and her right to court and other legal 
protections. 
 
¶8. (SBU) Representatives of SMK have acknowledged, privately 
at least, that the party was too quick to politicize the 
incident, in part by initially providing legal counsel for 
Malinova.  Malinova now has a non-political lawyer. 
 
 
MEMORY OF THE NATION CONTINUES TO OPERATE HEADLESS 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
¶9. (U) Parliament again failed to agree on a new chairman for 
the Institute of the Memory of the Nation (ref A), an 
organization mandated to publish the files of the fascist 
WWII and communist Slovak regimes.  Successful public 
lobbying efforts by the local Jewish community led to the 
withdrawal of candidacy by Arpad Tarnoczy, an SNS nominee who 
leads a group that admires and promotes the memory of fascist 
era Slovak leaders. 
 
¶10. (U) The Slovak cabinet will posthumously honor two Slovak 
Jews with a state award.  Alfred Wexler and Rudolf Vrba 
escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp and were the 
first to tell the world of the horrors that were occurring 
there.  The contributions of the two had not previously been 
officially recognized by the Slovak government. 
 
 
GENDER STAYS ON THE AGENDA, DESPITE LOSS TO VILNIUS 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶11. (SBU) Six members of parliament, from three parties 
covering both the coalition and opposition groupings and who 
belong to the Committee for Human Rights, Minorities, and the 
Status of Women, have cited gender equality as being high on 
the committee's agenda.  Two committee members have traveled 
recently to European conferences on the issue.  Slovakia had 
been on the shortlist to become home to the EU's new 
Institute for Gender Equality (ref A) but lost out to 
Vilnius.  One international observer noted that Slovakia has 
received criticism within the EU for the unequal status of 
women within the workplace and society. 
VALLEE