Saturday

21st Jan 2017

Why Slovak PM called journalists 'dirty prostitutes'

  • Fico at the opening concert of the Slovak EU presidency. Coverage of fraud allegations over the event are "a targeted attack against our successful presidency," he said. (Photo: eu2016sk/Flickr)

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico's comment to journalists that “some of you are dirty anti-Slovak prostitutes” understandably caused consternation in the international media, but local reporters were less shocked.

He first called journalists prostitutes in public in 2008, and is often insulting towards them.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Fico has been under pressure for months from the media and opposition parties over corruption allegations linking his interior minister to a prominent businessman.

But the immediate cause of his latest outburst were questions during a press conference on Wednesday (23 November) over alleged corruption related to Slovakia's six-month term holding the presidency of the EU Council.

Transparency International Slovakia (TIS) claimed earlier this week that the presentation of the EU presidency logo, and the opening concert in the Bratislava capital, were tainted by fraud.

An ex-employee of the Slovak Foreign Ministry, Zuzana Hlavkova, told the pressure group that both events were several times more expensive than originally planned, and organised by agencies close to Fico's ruling Social-Democratic party Smer-SD.

She said Fico had sent an external media specialist to the foreign ministry, which had boosted the costs.

TIS officially requested all the relevant information on the case and maintained on Wednesday that it had still not received full evidence on the real cost of the events and their procurement procedure.

But the foreign ministry claimed that no law had been broken and that all the legally binding documents had been published. It said that it was not in the competence of the young employee to see into all the financial operations.

System of cartels

Hlavkova told the media she had met foreign minister Miroslav Lajcak in March, two weeks after she resigned.

“He said he understood my ideals but that our hearts must go in hand with our reason,” she said.

She said the minister told her that “unfortunately, in Slovakia we are living in the system of various cartels in the IT sector and other arrangements that the state can do nothing about but adapt to”.

On Wednesday, Lajcak denied putting any political pressure on his employees. He said the final bill for the Slovak EU presidency would be well below the approved budget of €70 million and suggested he would quit if any wrongdoing is uncovered.

Lajcak argued however that it was up to official state control authorities to give their judgement, not media or social networks. He added that the coverage of the case this week was “absurd”.

Hlavkova's claims were supported by another foreign ministry employee, who also resigned due to alleged malpractices, and she was backed by several NGOs and a petition of Slovaks currently studying abroad.

Lajcak, a candidate for UN secretary-general this year, is one of the heavyweights in Fico's cabinet.

“I would wish other countries to have diplomats of his rank,” Fico said on Wednesday, adding that the recent media coverage was “a targeted attack against our successful [EU] presidency.”

The allegations over the EU presidency come as the media and opposition are demanding action over interior minister Robert Kalinak's alleged dealings with Ladislav Basternak, a businessman facing charges of tax fraud.

Opposition parties have organised several confidence votes to dismiss Kalinak, and have launched protests in the residential area where Fico rents a luxury apartment from Basternak.

Fico recently announced that he would move to a new house, and local commentators are speculating that Kalinak may quit after the end of Slovak EU presidency.

EU offers Denmark backdoor to Europol

Denmark's government and political parties are examining a draft agreement that would secure links with Europol starting May 2017, in a follow-up to a referendum last year that rejected full membership into the EU law enforcement agency.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey