November 2006

Europe faces an epidemic of cancer
The Member of the European Parliament
He wants to professionalize the activities of the Parliament
Who helped you formulate the declaration?
What will change in ten months- the structure of the government or thinking of the PES?
It is said that you did not support the collation with the SNS but with the SMK. Is it true? Why?
Fico scored, Gyurcsány lost
Arguments about the truth?
Gyurcsány unable to give any reasons
Fico finds them ridiculous
What were they supposed to discuss?
Priority of Slovak Presidency
Extension of Schengen Borders
Common Visa against the USA?
Vysegrád - the Cradle of V4
Historical Sessions
The Castle of Holíč needs a skilled owner
Why did the town authorities not see the connections?
Why didn’t you offer your experience earlier?
How did the town use all this money it received from selling the castle ten years ago?
So, was the sale of the castle reasonable?
Leader in the development of the Slovak spa industry
Religion and Politics in NATOs Pro-Albanian Policy(2)
They support investments in art

Europe faces an epidemic of cancer
Today the European Union has a population of 450 million, and every third citizen will develop cancer. The outlook is bad not merely for the sufferers and their families but this devastating trend - which WHO calls an epidemic - is bringing with it ever larger social, financial and political problems, even undermining the competitiveness of the European Union in the global economy. Year by year the budgets of all Member States are more and more severely battered by the growing medical demands of ageing populations, on whom cancer in its many forms lays the heaviest toll.
The European Union has the opportunity to show leadership and put cancer back onto the EU health agenda to ensure that national budget cuts do not discriminate against cancer which in the long run would further undermine Europe’s economies.
Unless we all become political advocates in the fight against cancer and ask our governments to allocate the necessary resources to it, government priorities will be elsewhere. As politicians we have a vital role to play in galvanising Europe’s fight against cancer, but politicians only respond to pressure from patients and the public. In the end, it is up to the cancer community: patients and their health care professionals to make their legitimate case and speak with a united voice. There are over 200 types of cancer and all too often we politicians are confused by a fragmented approach. Good health is among mankind’s greatest blessings, it is our task and duty to press for the closest possible international co-operation in the struggle to control cancer, by prevention, treatment, alleviation and cure; to encourage awareness of its causes, to spread knowledge of the best practice and to support centres of excellence and new research. Our MAC objective can be simply stated: substantially to reduce the number of new cases of cancer in Europe. Our method is to harness the political will of Member States to make the war against cancer the highest priority of their health policy.
The necessary public resources are not yet available for the financing of adequate preventive measures which must speedily be developed. As for treatment, which of course must go hand in hand with prevention, the large differences of timely and effective practice between Member States are well-known.
To join the fight against cancer, so necessary for building a healthier Europe, as much as any other measure will bring MEPs closer to the citizen. We hope that the MAC initiative will also increase co-operation with our national parliaments.
MAC members have endorsed a Statement to address the growing Cancer epidemic. We will pursue the ideas outlined in our MAC Statement to inform all discussions, reports or legislation at local, national or European level in which the health of the people is at issue.
The MAC Statement calls on national Health Ministers to urgently develop and, where existing, improve national cancer plans, setting priorities and effectively allocating resources for improving cancer control and research across the European Union. They have to tackle firmly the socio-economic and geographic divide, which leads to inequalities in cancer control. It is important to make high quality and up to date prevention, treatment and care attainable for all cancer patients in each European Member State. We must vigorously promote cancer awareness in the general public through the existing Europe against Cancer Code, making a special effort in new Member States, invest in cancer prevention in Member States through implementing the Council Recommendation on Cancer Screening of December 2003 and setting up national high quality screening programmes. We must oppose discrimination because of age, race, gender and domicile in respect of the latest cancer treatments.
A Cancer Task Force have to be set up at European level in order to exchange best practice and to highlight once again that tackling cancer is a priority and sending a strong political signal that immediate and concerted action is needed now.
MUDr. Irena Belohorská
The Member of the European Parliament

He wants to professionalize the activities of the Parliament
“We are going on. Paying no attention what the PES thinks we will carry on doing democratic politics. We are witnessing tough political game from the side of Hungarian governmental and oppositional politicians on all the levels. Their basic requirement is- no Slota in the government. It is being presented everywhere,” claims Pavol Paško, the Speaker of the Slovak Parliament of the Slovak Republic.

He was born in Košice (1958). He is one of the founders and the deputy speaker of the Smer – social democracy. He studied philosophy and aesthetics at the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University in Bratislava. He was a successful entrepreneur for ten years. He was first elected an MP in 2002. He was a chairman of the Foreign Committee, the member of the Committee for Health Care and Special committee for control of SIS activities.

Mr Paška, after the election you were preparing for the post of the minister of economy. What was the reason that you finally accepted the nomination of your party for the post of the Speaker of the Slovak Parliament? Don’t you regret it? No. I do not regret it at all. It was a political and human challenge that cannot be refused. The Slovak Republic is a parliamentary democracy and the parliament has an extraordinary position in division of power. In my inauguration speech I already presented my ideas about how this institution should work and particular changes which will help to improve political culture and effectiveness of the parliament. And it is my absolute priority. The truth is that I watch the development of Slovak health care very carefully. I spent four years dealing with this issue as an oppositional MP. And from the point of view of the further development of Slovakia, I am ready to help with any kind of problem if my advice and experience are necessary. However, the post of the speaker of the parliament requires a great deal of responsibility. It is necessary to show an enormous amount of energy so that the parliament fulfilled its functions adequate to its status given by the Constitution of the Slovak Republic.

Your almost two-month agenda (since 98 people out of 150 elected you a speaker) mainly included activities focused on explanation and defence of the new coalitional government abroad. You attempted to resist unfair political attacks on the Slovak Government from the side of Hungarian politicians in Slovakia, in Hungary, in the European Parliament, the Party of the European Socialists or in the European Council. Participation of the Slovak National Party in the Slovak Government followed by alleged anti-Hungarian attacks and mostly the case of allegedly assaulted and beaten Hungarian student Hedviga Malinová who commenced non- objective anti- Slovak political hysteria mainly in Hungary. Steamy atmosphere of the beginning of this autumn reminded of hysteria that broke out in Hungary and Sedmohrad when Hungarian politicians did not get to the Romanian government. Those in Slovakia did not even wait for the police investigation but they started condemning immediately, they were telling off and appealing to pass a kind of declaration against so-called “ethnical tension” in Slovakia. Did you expect such a start of your new political career? What kind of agenda did you want to focus on?
The essential question of the parliamentary election was the collision of two ideological streams- neo-liberal right and social democracy. Four years of neo-liberal politics brought Slovakia not only expressions of arrogance of power but mainly huge social inequalities and dramatic increase of poverty. The election gave the citizens an opportunity not to support right –winged social experiments and they preferred a direction of social democracy. One should have expected that first steps of a new government would lead to social and economic matters. Personally, I had been preparing for this agenda. Difficult social problems that had piled up during the period of Dzurinda´s government had to be solved immediately and firmly. What is sad is the fact that the government was not able to solve social issues from the beginning as they were forced to deal with issues you mentioned in the question. Well, that is politics. I am glad that things got normal thanks to firm activities of the state authorities but mainly by the power of democratic communication in the Slovak political spectrum. So we can deal with the social and economic topics which, from our point of view, are determined by political solidarity but also by the questions of improvement of democratic mechanisms. During the last four years, they were destroyed by exploiting of political power, elite preferences of elite, clienteles mad corruption that weakened citizens´ trust in the parliament. I prepared for the solutions of the mentioned field and I am glad I can concentrate all my attention and energy on it.

Your first political result was the Common declaration of the National Council of the Slovak Republic on the memorial day of victims of holocaust and racism and against expressions of extremism and hatred in Slovakia and Hungary. Why did you initiate the elaboration of this declaration?
I wanted to achieve a bit of understanding behind the borders of Slovakia where I have a feeling that sometimes it is a simplified way how principal objections and attitudes are formed just based on pieces of information from the media. From my point of view, they are too strong and irritate our domestic political space.

Did you want to take the wind out of the Party of Hungarian Coalition’s sail as the Party was increasing the international pressure on Slovakia, or when it found out that the party had not manage to force its own idea of declaration against ethnical tension and immediately started to support your proposal?
I tried to formulate a text which would show our citizens as well as our foreign friends in Europe and in the world very clearly that we would never tolerate that kind of expressions.

Who helped you formulate the declaration?
Some of my colleagues from SMER-SD, my colleagues and specialists on the particular topic from the academic sphere participated in its preparation. The final version was a reflection of wide political agreement of political parties in the Slovak parliament except for former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda who strictly refused to take part in such an activity in the parliament. I consider his decision as politically “short-sighted” but it is an evidence of the fact that he has not got over the loss of democratic political power which is much stronger than irreplaceable human values.

Would it have been wiser to wait for the results of the police investigation of the alleged incidents in Slovakia and in Hungary and make a political statement afterwards?
Urgency and potential civil risks of the further development were proving that it would not have been wise to wait. Broken political fire could not have been put off in the last moment even if it had been a made-up problem. Sometimes, one cannot just stand still and wait. Politics has its practical varieties but it also gives space for influencing of citizens. Declaration against extremism should be a clear demonstration of the fact that Slovakia is ready to face marginal expressions of national hatred. Moreover, it was the evidence that Slovakia is devoted to principles of humanism, tolerance and human rights.

Ministers of foreign affairs intended to formulate the similar declaration; however, it was not possible due to diversified opinions. Why didn’t you manage to convince the chairwoman of the Hungarian Parliament so it was the declaration made together and on the same day I both Hungarian and Slovak parliament? Why didn’t ´t she do so?
It is truth that I tried about the attitude of the Slovak parliament and its firm responds on the development. When the ministers were not able to reach an agreement, we did not initiate such a procedure. It is necessary to respond appropriately on the current situation and Slovak parliament did so and in time. The Hungarian parliament might not have felt necessity to support such an initiation and it will take time until it is revealed whether it was a lucky decision of the Hungarian side. All in all, the complicated situation in Hungary, although in a different question, is a kind of an approval that it does not pay to wait in politics because it can cause serious consequences, i.e. social turbulences.

You did not persuade the oppositional SDKU-DS and the former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda and they did not vote for this declaration. Do you agree with the opinion that the declaration weakened the international position of Slovakia and give a go to the politics of the Hungarian Coalition full of non- reconstruction and extremism idea? And antagonistic position against the Slovak Government?
The attitude of SDKU- DS was a bit of schizophrenic in the case. First, the European MPs representing this party initiated monitoring of the Slovak Republic in the European Parliament, a few weeks later they deal with national interests and they do not support declaration against expressions of extremism that destroys common values. Mr Dzurinda and his representatives like to appropriate them. They even talk about weakened position of Slovakia. I think it is obvious what endangered the position more: either declaration of the Slovak Parliament against extremism or attitudes of right-winged Slovak European MPs in the European Parliament. In my opinion, it was not a correct and fair approach from the side of SDKU- DS. But it is a shame that this party preferred its oppositional goal to the interests of Slovakia.

Paradoxically, on 6th September 2006 when the Slovak Parliament was passing the declaration, an appeal of the bureau of the European Council appeared on the web site of the Parliamentary assembly of the European Council. It was addressed to the Slovak government I order to intensify the fight against the expressions of intolerance and hatred… What did you think of when you heard about it? Did Slovak diplomacy fail or the monitoring of Slovakia?
At that time it was not a big deal, rather then misunderstanding- thus I understood the initiation of the Parliamentary assembly of the European Council. It was inevitable to explain certain issues but it was clear in advance that if everything is explained, the fear from our friends in the European Council will disappear. There were no reasons to get worried. I think that member of the Parliamentary assembly have already understood it.

Five days later, you wrote a letter to René van Linden, the President of the Parliamentary assembly of the European Council, in which you ensured him that they no worries about the increasing national tension in Slovakia are appropriate and you denied any kind of antagonism or racism. You also pointed out that the appeals of that kind usually appear based on not very precise information about reality in particular countries (see more in Dimenzie no.10/2006). You ask him to meet you. Have you received a reply yet?
The best way how to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings is to talk about the matters. Mr van Linden addressed me by a letter based on which we agreed on a meeting in Bratislava on November 10. I really look forward to it and I thank him for his respond.

What will you be talking about?
I would like to agree on the closer forms and ways of communication so that we avoided the unpleasant situation from September. If any information about Slovakia appears in media or during a monitoring but it is not objective, we must explain it right away. I must say that the Parliamentary assembly of the European Council realized that had made a mistake as they rejected Hungarian proposal to open a discussion about the situation and further development in Slovakia planned for the beginning of October. It proves that they have already been informed about many details and facts or they think there is no reason for that kind of a debate. Slovakia is a democratic country with a democratic parliament and with a democratic government, with citizens who do not fancy and tolerate any kinds of extremism.

Will you suggest, for example, him so that the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council dealt with the representation of the national minorities in the Hungarian parliament?
It is not the task of the Slovak political representation to interfere in domestic issues of other countries. Recently it seems this principle has not been followed and respected by all the politicians in the Member States of the EU. It is all based on a particular political correctness. And we expect a kind of reciprocity from the side of our Hungarian colleagues. I am convinced that inappropriate pressure on a sovereign Slovak government from some Hungarian politicians reciprocate that we felt the other day, has been revised profoundly on the Hungarian side and they classified it as inappropriate and incorrect and that it will not happen again. The position of minorities in Hungary belongs only to the competences of the Hungarian government, the solution must be found as a result of an agreement between the government and representatives of the minorities.

After publicizing the results of the police investigation when the police announced that Hedviga Malinová, a student, had made the whole incident up and that it had never happened, both the SMK and many critics of the new Slovak government abroad went silent. What were the reactions of the Hungarian parliament, Tom Lantos (American Congressman), the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the EC and the ambassadors operating in Slovakia you noticed after announcing these results? Did they apologise, did they remain muted and did not make any more comments on this matter or they behaved as if it had been exclusively the Slovak matter?
I think, suddenly, everyone understood that the case, which was supposed to be the essential evidence excusing the attacks against a new government, is not the right evidence based on which the attacks against Slovakia might have continued. “The bubble blew off!” Very decisive and firm reaction of the new government helped it defend its sovereign position and this fact does not need to be supported by any apologising approaches. The entire case was absolutely meaningless. However, we have learnt a lot.

Do you know any information about the results of investigations of the anti-Slovak incidents in Hungary (in the football stadiums, in the municipalities with Slovak minority lives) which have been discussed neither in Brussels nor Strasburg?
Although it is well-known that Hungarian law is less strict in the field of symbolic violence and extremism compared to Slovak laws, we cannot expect any firm safety measures to prevent anti-Slovak expressions from the Hungarian side. One might find it rather unfair but there is no actual suitable political space to solve this issue. Moreover, let’s just have a look at the political situation in Hungary and you will soon understand that they have much more serious problems.

Just before the October session of the European socialists where your party was stopped membership for ten months because of the Slovak national party in our government, you negotiated with the president of the European Parliament. You said that the formation of the Slovak governmental coalition caused a lot of worries in the field of human rights protection and minorities and in the field of following the commitments to democracy, the EU and its values and policies. Did you perceive it as a criticism or non-objective judgement of the overall situation?
Mr Borrell has never doubted it is the other way round; he is convinced about the dignified role of Slovakia in the European Parliament and about the fact that we are performing the program based on the standard European democratic values. He approved our declaration against extremism and intolerance. We agreed on the fact that we have to strengthen contacts between the Slovak and the European Parliaments. Mr Borrell was interested in the High Tatras and their further development, he accepted my invitation and he is going to visit Slovakia in December this year.

The resolution of the Party of the European Socialists (PES) to stop your party a membership for ten months- do you think it was passed to quick or it is so bad. What was the most decisive moment as at last only Slovak and Czech MPs did not support this resolution?
Over seven years of opposition, SMER- SD introduced and presented the social-democratic alternative for the citizens of Slovakia as a model able to survive and that id being realized in many countries of the European Union. In the election held in June this year in Slovakia, citizens supported this alternative and thus enabled to stop realization of neo-liberal political reforms of the right government which is given as a model to the whole Europe. The era of the symbol of right-winged state like a trendsetter and it is the first time in history when our citizens are given opportunity to experience a social state. It is a paradox as the party which just started realizing social- democratic politics which important contents are also the economic behaviour for example in terms of monopoles and particular economic subjects on the market respecting the interests of majority of Slovak citizens, they will be given “a reward” from the PES.. But we will carry on. Despite opinions of the PES, we will be performing social- democratic policy. I am convinced that a decision they made as well as the arguments were not correct. There are no other means than everyday politics to persuade the PES and entire Europe. I claim that the PES is against the involvement of the Slovak National Party (SNS) in the coalition and they have never disapproved our party. The essential problem is and we have been trying to explain it for a long time that the interpretation of the Berlin Protocol according to which social-democratic parties are not allowed to cooperate with extremist right-winged and xenophobic parties, is misunderstood in case of the Slovak National Party.

Two days before the resolution of socialists, Ján Slota, leader of the SNS, made a statement condemning any kinds of racial, ethnical or national intolerance and hatred anywhere in Europe and appealed for their profound investigation and punishment. Although Mr Borrell and Hanes Swoboda, Austrian social-democrat, appreciated his statement but it was not useful at all. There are two options: either the leaders and members of the PES did not read it or if they did, they did not change their opinions on the SNS… What do you think?
Personally, I think that the SNS and its agenda has not been analysed profoundly. The PES should have chosen a different strategy- give the government time to prove that the SNS is not a kind of an extremist party and that it constructively takes part in the social-democratic agenda. This program has never been doubted.

In the daily Népszava, two members of the presidency of the PES did express their dissatisfaction with such a solution and appealed to your party to reconstruct the government and exclude the SNS. What are your comments?
I do not see the reason why to order and force a sovereign state with a government crated according to the results of the election their ideas about who will rule the country. However, the leaders of the PES did not approve their proposal. We are witnessing tough political game from the side of Hungarian governmental and oppositional politicians on all the levels. Their basic requirement is- no Slota in the government. It is being presented everywhere. If the political situation in Hungary and Poland had not gone worse, even critical, we would be facing an increasing pressure on our state. But now, it has been calmed down for ten months. It will come back as long as problems have been solved in Hungary. Nevertheless, we must not allow it any more. We must stop radicalization of the relationships between Slovakia and Hungary. We must defend ourselves.

Actually, the question is what will change in ten months? Will you be still defending the SNS and proving that it is a standard national party?
We are not defendants of the SNS. It is not of a self-purpose and we are not trying to preserve the coalition by all means. We are interested in citizens, we live in a global European area where problems appear and then are solved. Views on interpretations and definitions of the SNS are disappearing slowly. We are attempting to solve the problem by proving that the definition of the SNS was created based on misinterpretation of historical exclamation pronounced by Ján Slota. Personally, I really appreciate attitudes of Czech and Austrian friends. They are our neighbours, much more sensitive to the situation and nuances of our central European region than our friends living in the west. I would like to thank them for their support.

How is it possible that the PES stop the membership of your party? Did you communicate with its representatives about the involvement of the SNS in a new government before creating it?
Communication with the representatives of the PES was of a standard character. Nr Fico spoke to Mr Martin Schulz and Mr R. Rasmussen on the phone. It is not true that they had not been informed about the program of the government. Only after that, negative statements appeared requiring the revision of the structure of a new Slovak Government, we had gone through many meetings in person, we had written a few letter explaining the situation.

As you talk about our neighbours, why did Polish and Austrian MPs vote for the stoppage of the membership…? How do you understand this fact?
It is their independent decision. I do not intend to analyse all the political and non-political influences on our friends from Poland or Austria. What is the essential for us – the Czech social democrats, who understand the Slovak political scene much better, unanimously supported the SMER-SD. Other parties of the PES do not have enough accurate information about political and social area in Slovakia and it is our task to explain patiently. I am sure that sooner or later our decision to create a coalition with the SNS and HZDS- ĽS will be understood by other political parties of the PES. It is only the matter of willingness to listen carefully to our arguments and do not lock themselves up in the simple schemes, dogmas and prejudices.

What will change in ten months- the structure of the government or thinking of the PES?
Definitely, no reconstruction of the government. This government was given a majority mandate from the citizens as well as its program was approved in the parliament. AS I said, the situation will calm down in ten months and the thinking will become much more sober. Our partners- socialists were influenced by a kind of schematics in the particular question but I am convinced that as long as they are given clear signals about the social- democratic direction of a new government in Slovakia as well as enough information about the Slovak political environment, they will be able to correct their statements.

In November this year, you are organizing a meeting of the prime ministers of V4. What will you be discussing? Will the Chairwoman of the Hungarian parliament take part?
This meeting is supposed to prove the common activities of the parliament in the question of the date of integration of V4 in Schengen system. It is a common project of a great importance which will strengthen the cooperation and collaboration between our countries and parliaments. The program will involve other issues but there is no point to describe it in details now.

How would you describe the relationships between the Party of Hungarian Coalition and SMER?
Political parties consist of people as well as mutual relationships between parties or people. I must confess that the cooperation between us is based on coalitional- oppositional behaviour and performance. The SMK is in the opposition, some of its reactions are connected with their feelings about having lost their influence on the execution and uncertainties about losing their political but most of all economic influence in the regions in the south of Slovakia where Slovaks and Hungarians live together. I feel sorry that some interpretations by political leaders of the SMK in Hungary were misleading and inaccurate, they were much more emotional than rational and unfortunately, they generated anti-Slovak attitudes. They did not participate in the Slovak-Hungarian commitment. I cannot imagine this atmosphere would have carried on. It does not mean that the relationships cannot work on other levels, in regions, town and cities. It does not matter if Slovak or Hungarian has to face poverty in the region, we have to solve it. Košice self-governing region is a good example of mutual cooperation and common realization of the agenda of SMER- SD and SMK on the level of the self-governing region. It is good that this pressure on the improvement of life standard is the best cure for the sensitive political topics.

The SMK claims that SMER-SD is creating antagonistic area against them. Is it true?
Our party has never created unfriendly or even hostile atmosphere against any political parties at home or abroad. As a dominant political party we are just realizing what we were given mandate for. The issue of social development cannot be the matter of a kind of national division, we would never accept this. We are just criticizing and will be criticizing the SMK if they radically use current social, political and economic procedures in Slovakia to separate citizens from the national point of view. Radicalism is not involved in the policy of our parry, we are social democrats who pursuing and respecting principles of solidarity.

It is said that you did not support the collation with the SNS but with the SMK. Is it true? Why?
I judged and analysed all the possible alternatives. It is not true that I did not support the structure of the present coalition. I was aware of risks that this coalition can bring and as time told, my fears had their foundations. However, nothing dramatic has happened in Slovakia. I am convinced that this coalition is a good message for anyone in Slovakia who was absolutely fed up with unsocial right-winged politics and desired for politics of social justice and solidarity. No alternative, out of the options given, would ever have brought it to Slovakia.

You intend to establish permanent parliamentary commissions for the Constitution of the Slovak Republic and implement the calendar in the Slovak Parliament, why?
I explained my reasons in the inauguration speech. I think I have not faced any resistance of political partners so far, either from coalition or opposition. Creating the space for the special analysis is much better solution than partial proposals. I want to create commission based on the agreements between parties and all parliamentary subjects will be presented there. This construction has the following frame: over the past electoral period, the activities of the parliament became more subjective. We think that the National Council became a servant of the government although we respect that it is not possible to rule without a democratic majority. While I am chairing, I will make activities of the parliament more objective and professional. The Chancellery of the Parliament will be reorganized too. I believe its activities will become more effective with a lower number of employees after the organizational structure has been changed. I also intend to emphasize the legislation itself by creating an independent section focused on approximation, private and public laws. Meanwhile, I would like to strengthen the position of the Parliamentary Institute as a scientific and opponent institute with top lawyers, philosophers, economists and other specialists. Afterwards we will approach to the issues of the constitution and calendar. The Constitution is a subject of long discussions; we propose its amendment and solution of more demanding issues such as MPs´ immunity and amnesty. And we would carry on. For example, the calendar has no strictly stated solutions for some situations which come up during the plenary sessions and in the committees. The establishment of permanent parliamentary commissions can help so that the changes proposed were analysed profoundly under specialists´ supervision and thus they would be long-termed ones. And above all, they must be results of the wide political agreement.

From July 1, 2007, Slovakia will chair the Conference of the Speakers of the parliament of the European Countries. In May 2007, Slovakia will be hosting speakers of the parliaments of the Member States. What will be the agenda of this four-day summit?
The agenda varies a lot. It is not only about the European future and sustainable development or extension and the Constitutional Treaty of the EU; we will also deal with proceeding questions and mechanisms in terms of intra-parliamentary cooperation. The essential motto is to crate more effective collaboration among parliaments of the Member States and thus strengthen the cooperation of the countries of the EU. While chairing, we can improve prestige of the National Council of the Slovak Republic and the entire Slovakia. It is an honour and responsibility for the parliament. I will take my responsibilities very seriously.

Fico scored, Gyurcsány lost
Will Hungarian Prime Minister take part in negotiations with Slovak Prime Minister during the summit of the V 4 Prime Ministers or will he has designed by then? Mr Gyurcsány, why are you blocking bilateral session and thus make the Slovak- Hungarian relationships and cooperation even worse? Aren’t you solving your domestic political problems with reforms and creating „New Hungary“at the expanse of Slovakia and Hungarian minority?

The scandal that broke will not be forgotten as it was the first time in history and just in the jubilee year of the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the non-formal regional group of the Vysegrád Four (V 4). Ferenc Gyurcsány, Hungarian socialistic Prime Minister, created it. Having no reason, he cancelled prepared bilateral negotiations with Slovak Prime Minister Róbert Fico during the summit of V4 held on October 10, 2006 in the Royal Palace in the Castle of Vysegrád and in addition it was influenced by the political crisis in the Czech Republic, huge anti-governmental demonstrations in Hungary and Poland. Consequently, this cancellation caused cancellations of other bilateral negotiations between Slovak and Czech Prime Ministers (i.e. Róbert Fico and Mirek Topolánek) as well as Fico´s negotiations with Jaroslaw Kaczynsky, Polish Prime Minister, who, despite great expectations, neither declared anything special nor announced anything extraordinary…

After the four Prime Ministers from Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland had formally praised the most successful period of Vysegrád´s cooperation of these countries, Ferenc Gyurcsány declared at the common press conference that he was not going to meet Prime Minister Fico.

Arguments about the truth?
However, he stated the reason, i.e. diversified views upon alleged national incidents and conflicts that happened in Slovakia and Hungary (They were investigated in Slovakia, but no investigation was held in Hungary- editorial comment) and “antrocity” that destroyed relationships between Slovakia and Hungary.
“We should meet only if we are able to ensure a successful meeting. It is so easy to fall out. It requires much more time and work so that socialistic Prime Ministers of the Slovak and Hungarian governments could meet. There would be no constructive discussion led today. It would not be a session but a discussion bringing no results. It would be just a quarrel initiating another discussion. I know Mr Fico very well. He would be just repeating his previous statements and I would have to deny them. And the other way round, I would repeat my previous statements and he would refuse them,“ said Hungarian Prime Minister.
Surprised Slovak Prime Minister replied: “I hope this reaction will not change very friendly atmosphere at the meeting today but I must confess and it is the first time I hear these reasons for cancelling this bilateral meeting. I add and my attitude is rather obvious that, firstly, I do not think there would be quarrel. Secondly, Slovak government is ready to negotiate about bridges, roads, profitable economic cooperation, good and warm relationships between Slovakia and Hungary anywhere, anytime, either multilaterally or bilaterally. We do not have a problem at all.“

Gyurcsány unable to give any reasons
However, Hungarian Prime Minister did not respond to Fico´s statement. He neither made it clear why he had cancelled a bilateral meeting after he was asked by the journalist from TV Markíza: “Mr Prime Minister, your, probably the strongest words were addressed to the Slovak government after the attack on a Hungarian student in Nitra. But the investigation revealed that no attack was launched. Why are you taking your exceptions to the Slovak government this time? What led you to cancel the meeting with Mr Fico? Could you specify the reasons you are talking about? “ Mr Gyurcsány did not specify them: “I do not want this case to spoil the atmosphere of our meeting today. We must approach this case very sensitively; it causes us far too much headache and soul ache. If one allows radicals to get closer to the government, it provides them with conditions for their development. It is the same with nationalism and populists. Governments are responsible for the ideas they are based on and which political parties they involve to rule. Not only is this issue being discussed at the moment. We will not let Hungarians be attacked as they speak Hungarian… We must live together, we need peace.”

Fico finds them ridiculous
It took Slovak Prime Minister a few minutes to (after the answer of Czech Prime Minister Topolínek to different topics) comment F. Gyurcsány´s arguments:
“I do apologise but it took me a while to understand what Mr Gyurcsány said in his previous respond. Predominantly, I would like to say that he might have been talking about a different country and I hope he can’t have been talking about Slovakia as there is a sovereign government in the Slovak republic that was created based on the results of the parliamentary election, the government meeting its social-democratic agenda and the only government able to provide democratic stability in the region in terms of functional institutions. I can just repeat what I said at the beginning – I do not understand the reasons why a bilateral meeting should not be held. I do not see any reasons at all to postpone that kind of negotiations for any reasons. As the Slovak government has clearly declared to the right against extremism, nationalism, xenophobia and other negative activities the whole Europe is fighting against, and all the cases that had happened were properly investigated and it was explained in details what had happened and what had not, I do not see any obstructions in bilateral relationships. From our side, we are eager and happy to negotiate anytime and anywhere and I do not understand at all what Hungarian Prime Minister has just said.” After the press conference Róbert Fico told the journalists that he found those reasons absolutely ridiculous: “I cannot imagine that one invites someone else to a bilateral meeting and later on, due to domestic political reasons one cancels it- as there were obvious domestic political reasons. All right, I accept it, I think that Slovakia has its own sovereign government and we will behave independently in such situations, we are ready to negotiate bur if he does not want to, it is only Hungarian problem.“

What were they supposed to discuss?
According to the original plan, Prime Ministers Fico and Gyurcsány should have discussed 12 topics they had agreed on at presence of Ministers of Foreign Affairs and ambassadors who also took part at the summit. These topics were approved a day before Vysegrád summit when the first speculations appeared whether bilateral meetings would be cancelled due to expected exclusion of Fico´s SMER- social democracy from the Party of the European Socialists during negotiations of its presidency in Brussels two days later (the Membership of SMER was just stopped for ten months)...
Prime Ministers were supposed to evaluate the present status of bilateral relationships, work, activation and priorities of twelve mixed commissions that were created and work in accordance with basic treaty from the year 1995. They should have been talking about the exact projects within cross-border and regional cooperation (for instance a bridge over the Ipeľ river, completion of highway M15 near Rajka), evaluate realization of the agreement about crossing the border because of tourism and discuss the question of minority schools and education and the overall position of minorities. Their dialogue should have moved the revision of contract-legal basis forward and extend it in the fields of transport and ministry of domestic affairs and in implementation of the verdicts of the International Court in Haag in case of the dam Gabčíkovo- Nagymaros. It could have supported a general requirement to increase frequency of sessions of a mixed commission of historians with the main goal to make historical issues clear and issue mutual studying materials and thus prepare conditions for historical reconciliation. They should have discussed matters of international cooperation in the field of international organizations, preparation of both countries to Schengen system and the issues of European Agenda- Euro, the Constitutional Treaty, a free-movement of work force and energetic policy.

Priority of Slovak Presidency
The plenary meeting of four Prime Ministers was much more successful. It dealt with more important topics. It is expected that during Slovak presidency of V4, Fico who has had the most stable government compared to other Prime Ministers, will be given a chance to revive “politically lethargic” V4. “Priorities that had been set by Hungarian presidency were fulfilled, most of all, V4 priority to get closer to citizens and describe it as a sensible nad effective organization able to pursue mutual statements and opinions, “ said Róbert Fico just before he announced priorities of Slovak presidency to journalists:
“The priority of highest importance- Vysegrád Four should be platform where we will be able to approve common statements on the most significant questions. Yet, we have not been able to pursue the idea of mutual European foreign and security policies in Europe. Therefore, Member States are often divided into group when they have to pass resolutions of the essential matters of world politics. The Slovak Republic would be delighted if at least four countries of V4 were able to reach an agreement on mutual attitudes towards topics such as Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and then pursue these statements together in the European Union.“
Mr Fico considers the V4- Benelux meeting as a session of great importance. It will be held in December 2006.

Extension of Schengen Borders
Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland insists on the fact so that the European Union extended Schengen borders to their states by the term set originally - October 2007. “If we keep postponing it, it will reflect in reliability of the Old Members. All members of the EU are equal; there must not be any differences between old and new members. Either we have equal rights and duties- and we fulfil our duties while talking about Schengen Area and therefore we expect our citizens will hold the same position as it is in case of Old Member States or this rule does not exist in equality on the European Union. October 2007 will show whether there is equality in Europe or we remained citizens of a second category, “ Róbert Fico declared after the negotiations of Prime Ministers.

Common Visa against the USA?
According to Mr Fico, the European Union should draw a border until which it will be willing to negotiate with the United States of America about one-side cancellation of a visa. Slovakia would appreciate common statement of V4. “There is a border that cannot be exceeded. It is not possible that we were always applying for something what is absolutely natural in the international law- either there is a reciprocity in your relationships or not. Soon, it will be time for V4 to say how far we would go. How long will this process take in order to fulfil the basic principle of the international law- reciprocity? I do not hesitate to initiate this discussion and hope the countries of V4 reach a conclusion and say- it is not possible to continue in such negotiations,“ Mr Fico emphasised.
Mr Mirek Topolánek, Czech Prime Minister, considers cancellation of a visa from the USA side as a common interest of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
“Cooperation in this issue will quicken elimination of a visa duty. Our minister of foreign affairs presented it rather firmly in Washington (at the beginning of October),“ said Mr Topolánek.
Prime Ministers supported further extension of the EU in their common declaration. Mirek Topolánek emphasised that V4 takes over responsibility for the events in Europe, in the world and at their neighbours. Increased budget of the V4 fund (5 million EUR from the next year) should be also used for democratization of Ukraine and Belarus. All four states approved integration of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union and supported continuation of negotiations with Croatia and Turkey.

“The integration in the European Union meant a kind of renaissance the Visegrád´s Four has gone through and it shows its vitality. All the issues we are able to agree on, these we are also obliged to pursue. If we manage to pursue them so that our citizens will understand why is the V4 so useful and necessary? “
Mirek Topolánek,
Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

Vysegrád - the Cradle of V4
One hundred and thirty years ago, the reconstruction works on the castle and the royal palace began. It is a place where the European coalition was ceremonially agreed on their alliance against Habsburgs in 1335 and thus completed the process of creation of firm borders in Central Europe.

A small historical and attractive picturesque town that spreads along the right bank of the river Danube in the north of Hungary opposite the town of Nagymaros. It is situated only 45 kilometers far from Budapest and twenty kilometres from the Hungarian- Slovak border in Esztergom. Almost two thousand people live there.

At the time of the Roman Empire, the surrounding area of contemporary Vysegrád used to be the north border of the Empire which had to resist rough attacks of Germanic tribes. Romans built a fortress on the rock. In the 1250s and after Tatars attacks, King Belo IV (one of the most significant Hungarian kings from Arpard´s dynasty) ordered to build a massive castle on the ruins. In 1323, Hungarian King Carol Robert from Anjou moved into the castle and Vysegrád with an extraordinary palace became the capital city of the Hungarian Kingdom. In the second half of the 15th century, Mathias Corvinus, Hungarian King and one of the most powerful rulers in Central Europe, rebuilt the castle in a renaissance style. However, in 1543, Turks completely destroyed it. At the end of the 17th century, the town was constructed again as life under the castle was revived. Archaeological research and reconstruction works started in 1878 and have been continuing since then.

Historical Sessions
In 1335, three king met there- Jan Luxemburg (Blind), Czech King, Polish King Kazimír III. the Great (he united Poland) and their brother-in-law Carol Robert from Anjou so that they ceremonially proclaimed their oath and treaty on mutual fidelity and reconciliation and they signed the anti- Habsburg coalition. Jan Luxemburg gave up his demands on Polish crown for 20 thousand “piles” (A pile- an old measurement for 60) of Prague coins and he gained sovereignty over Slesia. This treaty was preceded by the session in Trenčín. However, it finished the whole process of creation of strong state borders in Central Europe.
In 1339, they also agreed that after the death of Kazimír the Great, the Polish throne would be taken over by one of Carl Robert´s sons under one condition- Poles´ privileges would be preserved and Kazimír the Great would not have a son.
Another historical Central European meeting was held in Vysegrád in February 1991. Two presidents, from Czechoslovakia (Václav Havel) and from Poland ( Lech Walesa), and Hungarian Prime Minister József Antall signed a declaration of a close cooperation of those three countries on their way to the European integration. They also decided to establish a regional association called Vysegrád´s Three (Vysegrád´s Group)that changed to Vysegrád Four after the disintegration of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic in 1993. After the fall of communism, the mutual cooperation among these countries played an important role in the process of transformation from the totalitarian systems to freedom, pluralistic and democratic society and integration to the European union.

The Castle of Holíč needs a skilled owner
„ It might be a kind of bridge connecting the past and the interesting future. It is time to set off on a new journey and get out of apathy, unemployment and forced lethargy, “claims Zdenko Čambal, Deputy Speaker of the Trnava self-governing region and candidate for the mayor of the town of Holíč.

The view of the baroque and classicistic castle with the fortification system, which is an important sight in Holíč, is rather sorrowful. Two years ago, it used to be a Gothic water castle, later a renaissance anti-Turkish fortress with a star fortification system, representative summer residence of Habsburgs. When the castle like a symbol of the Austrian – Hungarian Monarchy became the property of the state, the citizens robbed it, carried all the valuables home, other plundered and damaged. From 1746 to the fall of the monarchy, voluntary performances were played in the castle. Many dramas were played in French. During the summer evenings, when Caesarean Maria Teresa visited the castle, small operas were performed as well.

Mr Čambal, did incapability of the contemporary Town Council to solve a long term problem with reconstruction and use the castle or economic stagnation in the town motivate you to become a candidate for the mayor of Holíč?
I would not like to criticise the town council. Based on my experience, every authority tries to achieve the best results for the subject he/ she is responsible for. The other issue is the question of limits and obstructions we have to face. Apart form the generation exchange, I think it is the matter of vision our town lacks. The conceptual development of Holič counts on wider cooperation of formal and non-formal leaders not only on the town level but predominantly the self-governing region and the possibilities in wider cross-border context with views of V-4 and Brussels.
Why did the town authorities not see the connections?
I think that they were too tired of everyday struggle for elimination of the decline of the town.

Why didn’t you offer your experience earlier?
I see myself like a worker of the work time. I am a team player and I know that everyone has his/her tasks in the team. My tasks are to coordinate, manage and organize the cooperation and contacts on the regional and international levels so that we got out of the morass we are bogging down. I hate envy and I reject hatred.
I am able to cooperate with anyone, also with political opponents based on the presumption that we are able to cooperate together and feel enthusiastic about the town issues. I really love my home town. It is the matter of my parents and my son, i.e. the house for three generation and other descendants. The town of Holíč needs to connect its proud past and traditions with the future corresponding the parameters of the 21st century or even a bit exaggerated meaning of the third millennium. The cardinal question is what can be the bridge from the past to the interesting future in the town like Holíč. In my opinion, it is the castle.

In 1996, the town sold the castle to the private company which was supposed to complete the reconstruction including the park and its surrounding area. As this national cultural sight is still in ruins and the owner has not invested anything so far, the Town council intends to buy it back and consequently sell it to the foreign investor. What are your comments on that situation and the proposals?
You asked a question which can be divided into several sub-questions. The first is the wrong decision made by the town in terms of selling this historical jewel. I have to mention that the foundations of the castle are built on the late- Gothic fortress dating back to the 15th century. I have travelled a lot and I have come across many sights abroad which were treated in much better way. People travel from faraway places just to see and touch the sight. How much do we pay travel agencies just to see some sights abroad? From this point of view, I find selling the national cultural sight to the people showing no respect to history as an absolute disaster. I do not offend the current owners. I appeal to them so that they sold their castle back to the town. They were surely willing to find enough funds to finance a project of such a great importance. Based on my experience, three elements must be joined together if we want to reach a successful synergic achievement. Private capital, town involvement, the European funds. Other, it would be impossible to plan and realize such a huge project exceeding the borders of our town and region. People are gossiping that you want to get involved personally in the reconstruction of the historical park…
The symbol of Slavonic people is an olden lime. That kind of a tree lives for longer than 300 years and requires an enormous care during its elderly age. When I am crossing the park, I always feel so sorry for old trees I perceive like people who have done their work and now they seem to be useless. Personally, I need them. Elderly people are wise, experienced and loving- it is the same with those trees. I would like to work in the park in my spare time. Ask specialists and architects for some advice how to revive this inseparable part of the castle.

Do you support the opinion that cultural and national sights should have private owners as long as the state is unable to look after them?
National sights should not be the objects of business. The respect towards traditions is our only chance to enter Europe proudly. Europe needs us as much as we need it. I am convinced that by using the European funds, we would be able to create an island with a blue flag with golden stars in our town. I am not afraid of globalization; I do not believe it goes against the nations. It is the other way round, it proves and confirms the national identity as well as the regional identity as it is so inevitable. It is the treasure of the old continent where the long history and evidences of intellectual flow of builders, architects and other specialists a few centuries ago, could be the most decisive spiritual power in the competition against “new era tigers” with a completely different philosophy. Let’s go back to travelling. You drink the same beverages and eat the same minced meat all over the world. We gave up our mineral water and specialities quickly which might be much more delicious than fast food. This is probably the best metaphor in terms of our castle. The original star shape fortress was built after the year1678. From 1736, when the site became the property if the caesarean family, the fortress was rebuilt into a three -winged baroque chateau. The use of the building changed but the place with its foundations and the views on this architectural jewel have never changed. Are we willing to give up as easily as we gave up our own mineral water?

How did the town use all this money it received from selling the castle ten years ago?
I am not competent to judge the profit the town made and the way all this money were invested. The finances were used for the reconstruction of the town square. I do not find it adequate and suitable sale. Every father of the family knows that it is not possible to sell the wardrobe just to purchase a bed. We need both. The town must be supported by the wide coalition in order to buy a castle back. I mean citizens pride, inhabitants, and insisting on this purchasing. The town must use the citizens´ pressure and emphasises the requirements of the further cooperation to the Trnava self-governing region. This is the task right for me, I will do my best. The self-governing region is a subject which is able to elaborate a reasoned and specialized requirement for the European Grant. I am convinced that apart from the citizens´ willingness, we will be able to find inner political and outer pro-European cooperation in terms of this project.

So, was the sale of the castle reasonable?
No. If one says that the finances were used for the reconstruction of the historical centre of Holíč, I claim, the town needs both. The castle also belongs to the historical centre. Záhorie is the region suitable for tourism, agro-tourism, and the place for living a life of a high quality for both inhabitants and travellers.
I will make Holíč visible; it will be included in the tourist maps of the region and in Slovakia. My ambition is to show Europe my home town- Holíč. I have been working in the communal politics since 2002 and I am responsible for the cross- border cooperation. If you look at the map, you will see that Hodonín (a town in the Czech Republic) is situated only five kilometres from Holíč while Trnava, the centre of the self-governing region, is 77 kilometres far and Bratislava 80 kilometres. The main goal of such a project is never money or business. It is just the pride and honour.


Leader in the development of the Slovak spa industry
“My vision is about the European, cultural, safe and multi-ethnical city. Annually, sixty thousand people visit the city. However, we need a new better quality. We must do a lot so that we reached the top within the European competition, “claims Remo Cicutto, Mayor of Piešťany.


Religion and Politics in NATOs Pro-Albanian Policy(2)
OIC was the initiator of all UN resolutions condemnig Serbia and the Serbs. It managed to force the West to introduce sanctions, bomb Bosnian Serbs and, finally invade Republic of Serbia and occupy K&M.


They support investments in art
The International Club of the Friends of the Art Foundation is expecting new members.

Art is a part of life- it is a premises of the establishment of a very unusual foundation in Slovakia. It helps the development with the present art. ART Foundation was registered in 2004 aiming to support not only the Slovak but also Czech present fine art and give a hand to the artists who want to present themselves abroad.


 

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