Posted inCentral Europe & Baltics, European Union, Slovakia

SLOVAKIA: President’s Son Hostage in a Political Game

IN LATE OCTOBER, BOTH THE European Union and the United States sent diplomatic notes to Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, warning that his coalition’s continuing attacks on President Michal Kovac could damage the process of democratic transformation in Slovakia. The coalition’s offensive against Kovac – which has included a parliamentary vote of no confidence in May and the government’s call for his resignation in September – is not the only source of concern for the EU and the United States. Since last fall’s parliamentary elections, in which Meciar’s Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) won 35 percent of the vote, a number of controversial initiatives by the prime minister and his coalition partners have attracted the critical attention of the international community. The EU issued its first demarche to Slovakia in November 1994, after Meciar and his allies led the parliament to make sweeping changes in the leadership of media, economic, and political organizations. Since then, massive personnel purges have taken place at all levels, a number of controversial pieces of legislation have been approved by the parliament, and attacks on opponents of government policies have taken on a violent tone. In addition to calling for the cessation of attacks on Kovac, the EU and the United States recommended that the Slovak leadership place more emphasis on tolerating differing political views, fully supporting constitutional rights, and conducting government activities more openly.