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November 2010

Košice need ambitious “Anička”
Hill Hoverla
What is the true of the Slovak judiciary and of the Minister of Justice Mrs Žitňanská? From Mr Štefan Harabin's speech to the Slovak parliament which was ignored by public and so-called free and independent media.
Why the EU badly needs a new political narrative
Czech President Klaus warns:
Obama's new job: reinvention
Slovakia is afraid of criticizing Israel
In what has Slovakia moved forward over the past 10 years?
“ It has not been revealed yet, what we will do!”
Educated theologian
Tuchacevsky´s take-off and fall (II)
Opera and operetta smart man
The painter from the Russian north
“Detached workplace” of the Soviet Union

Editorial
Why doesn’t the Council of the EU solve the issues of the EU citizens at the outer
When I was writing about the problems of outer Slovak- Ukrainian Schengen border in Vyšné Nemecké (see Dimenzie no. 10/ 2010), I had no idea what kind of problems I was going to experience at the Latvian- Russian Schengen border on my way to Saint Petersburg. My life of a traveller proves that the Council of the EU, the supreme legal and decision-making body of the Union (it consists of governments and resort ministers of the member states of the EU), does not still pay attention to problems that citizens of the EU have to go through when leaving or entering the Schengen area if they travel across border crossings. I mean a few- hours of waiting, car and boot searches, quotas on alcohol and cigarettes imported as well as prohibition on importing meat and dairy products.
As far s I thought that the control regime at the outer border of the EU is and must be the same at all border crossings, I found out that it is not like that. The regime that I know, for instance, from the Slovak- Ukrainian border crossing is different from one at the Hungarian- Serbian border or Hungarian- Romanian, Hungarian – Croatian, Hungarian- Ukrainian or Slovenian – Croatian border crossings. My car is usually given profounder search when
I come from Serbia or from Ukraine. The number of kilometres driven and the volume of oil in the tank are inquired only by Slovak custom officers and policemen. These data are written down into program software. It is enough to show my passport, vehicle registration papers, sometimes a green card and of course, open a boot of the car to their Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian colleagues. And when leaving the Schengen area, I just showed my passport and vehicle registration papers. When I recently arrived in Russian Saint Petersburg, I thought that I would experience something similar at the Latvian- Russian border crossing Gregnevac- Ubylinka. Unfortunately, I was wrong. As a citizen of the EU I got the first terrible shock at the Latvian side of the borders. I found out the fact that I was at the east border of the EU when I joined the queue of cars waiting for a green light of the traffic lights. No border ramp, nor the sign, just traffic lights on the first class road. Next to this queue, there was a line of truck standing on the side of the road. Their drivers were also waiting for a green light. In spite of being the eighth in the queue, in one hour I managed to “move” forward by a few places backward. How? I had to understand that the gaps between the first and second car, or between the fourth and fifth ones were not because of turning or coming cars but for local Latvians whose cars were standing on the side of the road or who went to the front. I understood that it is a kind of “making reservation” for friend or smugglers who go shopping in Russia (for example, oil costs 40- 45 cents). When I began thinking and comparing them to Slovaks living near the Slovak- Ukrainian border crossing who earn a living from purchasing cheaper oil, cigarettes and alcohol on the Ukrainian side because they were unable to find any other jobs at home. The green light went on. And the competition began. Local Latvians sat into their cars, those who were waiting in the queue, let them go to front of those who were standing on the side of the road in the opposite lane. Who started the car first and managed to take over the others, moved forward. I managed to move by one place! I could not any more. And again the red light went on. Later, I learnt from local Latvians that maximum 10 cars were allowed to pass when the green was on…
“Why aren’t there any traffic wardens and organize things?” I asked myself. It had taken 72 minutes from my arrival to the border when I was allowed to pass the light. While waiting,
I only had a movable toilet and darkness available. No stalks offering refreshment, no cafés. Neither there was a petrol station nearby.
“Eventually, I am approaching to the illuminated cabin, it will be fast now,” I tried to comfort myself. Mistake. When I was passing my passport to a Latvian policeman, he asked me where a filled form was. I did not understand. “What kind of a form?” I ask in Russian. “Am I in Russia already?” “No, you are not. You have to go back to the traffic lights, there is a cabin and they will explain it all to you,” he said. I quickly walked back approximately 150 meters being worried how many car will overtake me. Luckily, I found a cabin. And while I managed to apologize and ask a policeman about a kind of a form, he told me off: “Where are you from? Do you cross the Slovak borders like that? There you go, fill it in.”
Apart from the personal data, you have to fill in the date concerning your car. I returned back to the car, I quickly scribbled data and I asked myself quietly how long I would have to wait in the European Union and what was waiting for me on the Russian side. When I was ready,
I handed the form to the policeman with a passport, vehicle registration papers, a green card and a driving licence, my dear friends! Meanwhile a customs officer was checking my car, a boot and he sent me to another cabin so that I asked his colleague for a stamp in the form. Fortunately, I did it very quickly and returned to the policeman at the desk.
When, after ten minutes, he wrote date in the computer, I found out that I made a mistake-
I thought that I am from Slovenia and not from Slovakia because according to him, Slovenians “have a Slovak passport.” I had to explain to him what the differences between Slovenian and Slovak languages are… “Here you are. And you can go. First, wait for a green light at the traffic lights and then you will stop in front of the ramp where you hand in a form,” he said as I was leaving. “And where am I supposed to go, actually? It is dark; I cannot see anything, not a single sign, which way to go to Russia?” I ask him. “Go straight ahead, first, you see the traffic lights, then a cabin and after two hundred meters, you will be in Russia.”
I would rather not analyse the fact that I went through the same procedure on the Russian side because I consider it as typical Russian matter. What I was really worried about when Russian policewomen and customs officers willingly helped me to fill in the form and customs declaration, asking me the questions that I would have addressed them to Brussels and mainly to the Council of Ministers. For example, how is it possible that Latvia is in Schengen area although it does not have any necessary infrastructure- lights, monitoring system, roads, marked lanes, parking places, information signs and leaflets for travellers about what form to fill in when leaving the EU? I remember how Brussels bureaucrats and a commissar for interior affairs were telling off Slovakia for not having been prepared for the integration to the Schengen area in the years 2005- 2006…
Why do the EU citizens fill in a form, into which a policeman also writes the time of control and departure when leaving the EU? And why do they not have to fill in the same form in Hungary or in Slovakia? How is it possible that the EU citizens who are returning home (to the EU) are thoroughly controlled when coming back to Schengen area as citizens of other countries? Who cares how much oil or petrol does the EU citizens have in the tank of his car? Why do the EU citizens have to queue in endless lines before entering the EU along with citizens of non-member states? Why aren’t they sorted out in a separate lane that is only for the EU citizens? However, is there anybody in Brussels who is really interested in the situation at outer borders of “the European iron wall” and time losses (not even talking about truck drivers) of the EU citizens?
Do you know what are Brussels bureaucrats, the European commission and the European parliament worried about when you ask for improving the regime for the EU citizens when entering the Schengen area? They are just interested in out-of-date Schengen rules and applying the codex of Schengen borders inside the EU and against the citizens of non- member states of the EU. The Council of the European Union is silent; sometimes the European Parliament and the European Commission make a statement. Its recent report only proved that it is not interested in any other problems because it noticed three problems: “Difficulties with inside border zones, lasting obstacles of continuous traffic on the road crossing at the inner borders and belated announcement of planned renewal control of inner borders.”           
 
Personality
Košice need ambitious “Anička”
„The development of tourism in cities and their districts depends on visions and ideas. If its administration has and is able to communicate frankly not only with citizens but also mainly with investors and entrepreneurs, the result must be positive,” claims Marián Gaj, an owner of the advertising and artistic agency Gajja Production House and an independent candidate for the post of a mayor of the city district- Košice – Sever (North).
 
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: Eugen Bernáth, the archive
 
The development of tourism has not been resolved in Košice for a long time. We lack projects and new impulses which could motivate not only investors but also domestic entrepreneurs. Despite its great potential, this second largest city in Slovakia is still not on the international map of congress, cultural and gastronomic tourism. If Košice is discussed abroad, there are always two matters emphasised- a magnificent St Elisabeth’s Cathedral, which is the furthest east Gothic cathedral in Central Europe and a really problematic housing estate Lunik IX, inhabited by Romany people. Many citizens of middle age are not satisfied with such “popularity” of the city; they have criticized administration and magistrate for a long time for the work with no conception in this area. According to Marián Gaj, a 41-year-old economist who has been running his business in the areas such as finances, culture and tourism, it is not enough to criticize. “We have to put a pressure on the administration to wake them up, to make them listen and carry out our ideas and proposals. However, if we are convinced that authorized and competent people prevent the city from any development on purpose, it requires to be courageous enough to enter the communal politics to carry out our visions,” says Mr Gaj in regards to his decision to candidate for the post of the mayor of the city district Košice- Sever (North).
 
Mr Gaj, you offer Košice a new dominant part- an ambitious renewal and construction of new infrastructure in the recreational area Anička. What motivates you to bring this area an atmosphere of old times?
Anička is an area which citizens of Košice still use for relaxing. They walk out their dogs; there is an outdoor swimming pool where many people go sunbathing, playing tennis or mini golf. However, the status of the entire infrastructure is not as it is supposed to be. As if little was enough. I do not like it. It is definitely not enough to cut the grass. My motivation is simple. I also want to relax in the area which is at the European level. At present. Citizens of Košice go swimming in neighbouring Hungary or to the High Tatras. Why? It is much cheaper there and the services are at a high level. Mainly Hungary has facilities citizens of Košice really enjoy. If we attract investors, Anička can grow up into a modern complex with atmosphere similar to that as used to be there at the beginning of the previous century.
 
What is the main centre of your ideas- it is a renewal of original Gajdove kúpele (spa)?    
We must not talk about one point. Gajdove Kúpele (spa) has its rich history; however, it belongs to the past. The area and its present constructions have been deteriorated and it is necessary to solve it as a unit. My plans are much more ambitious. I can imagine a lot of activities there. Promenade Hornád, a vital world, a swimming pool with an ice- rink, amusement park for children, sport centres and of course, the spa – all modern. Nowadays, visitors of such facilities are more demanding as they used to be that is why nothing can be just at the average level. This area can be a place which Košice would be really proud of not only in Slovakia but also abroad. There must be parking places, the place must be reachable by city public transport as well as proper marketing as such a project cannot be in loss. You know as long as there is a modern water world in cities like Senec, Liptovský Mikuláš or Poprad, Košice must have it as well. Ideas on what should be included there are huge and we move forwards step by step.
 
Who will be an investor? A city district, entrepreneurs? Or do you want to gain funds through the European projects?
This project can be financed neither by the city nor the city district. Nevertheless, they can help by creating conditions for carrying out such a project and show mainly active approach which cannot be seen in Košice so often. We will search for private investors and we will try to negotiate with the European Union. I think that joining the administration, private funds and finances from the European projects we could mange it. However, there is a lot of work that must be done.
 
The castle of Košice and the recreational area Alpinka need their new face, too. What kind of vision do you offer?
Though, Košice is the only regional city that does not have its castle. I mean the attraction that we would offer included in the package. Mr Krajcer, a Minister of Culture, has recently presented his opinion that the reconstruction could be included in the project of the European Capital City of Culture that Košice gained. I think that it would help tourism to move it much further. It would really help Košice.
And in terms of Alpinka, it has been influenced by time. We would like to give it back its glamour which it used to have just a few decades ago and mainly cultural life. It used to be a place where people went dancing. It is not like than any more.
 
Is it possible to implement the reconstruction of the Košice Castle into the project Košice- the European Capital City of Culture? Isn’t it too late?
Many cities had changed their original projects with which they finally won. If it was the will of the ministry of culture, the city and the EU, it might be changed somehow.
 
You do not talk about the open air theatre in Festival Square. What can be done with this summer cinema that used to be very popular? At present, it is a head office of the administration and offices of the city district?
The city announces a competition which main aim is urban and architectonic proposal of the object of the open air theatre into a multi- functional space with the yearlong operation. The budget frame reaches the sum of 8 million Euros, the capacity up to 4,000 visitors in the object that can be used all year long, with the background for 150 performers what is a huge number, 540 parking places which cannot be solved according to valid territorial plan of Košice. In my opinion, it is not a very good solution, but we want to deal with it. We are even preparing visualization of our idea how a new open- air theatre is supposed to look like. It used to have its atmosphere and those who experience it, recollect their memories with a nostalgic smile. But if the open air theatre is included in the project of the European Capital City of Culture 2013, we have to use it so that it worked after the year 2013. The reconstruction of the open air theatre will require much more funds than 8 million Euros and will affect mainly transport. Festival Square is just a name. It is a net of junctions, pedestrian crossings and rails and a lot of chaos. The city should solve it and I hope when we come up with our vision, things will move forward.
 
Next to the open air theatre, there is a Calvary of Košice above which there is a small housing estate. There used to be a path from Kalvária to Bankov, another very popular tourist area near Košice. How do you want to renew the atmosphere of this path?
This path is still there, we just need to adjust it, place so cobles and stones arranged environment but predominantly mark it and get it into tourist maps. I think many citizens of Košice do not know about it.
 
You do not try to hide your opinion that the city district of Košice- Sever, with more than 20,000 inhabitants, must be a leader in building the oasis of peace with higher security.
What are these oasis supposed to look like?
Nowadays, north is a symbol of good dwelling and high quality life in Košice. Among blocks of flats and apartment houses, there is a lot of greenness out of all city districts. We are one of the oldest city districts and that is why we have the oldest playground and sporting areas. We would like to change it. Using funds from the European Union, we would like to build up new modern playgrounds for smaller children as well as sporting youth in chosen localities. Many playgrounds just need some repair works and afterwards return them to the general public.
Green years below our windows are used by homeless people. Many benches are in ruins and if you wanted to sit on them, you will get get to them as there is a lot of litter around. We would like to change these places into oasis of peace, quiet, relax with high safety. We also intend to arrange new lawns, repair old and build new benches and return the atmosphere to the place.
 
How do you understand the fact that the administration of the city and city district Košice- Sever has done nothing to solve infrastructure of tourist and recreational locations in the city over the 20 years. Was it caused by complicated ownership relations, privatization with no conception or a lack of capital?
I do not think that the lack of money is the main issue. It has always been. The development of tourism in cities and their districts depends on visions and ideas. If its administration has and in able to communicate frankly not only with citizens but also mainly with investors and entrepreneurs, the result must be positive. It does not work in different way in other countries and cities where tourism and services reach a high level and are important source of income for cities and businessmen.
 
On the other hand, the self- administration supported the entrance of smaller developers and shop chains, which, however, does not solve lack of parking places, construction of rental and social flats, reconstruction of city roads, pavements and parks. What kind of policy should the self- administration apply in terms of investors and domestic entrepreneurs?
Most of all, it is possible to be active. If the city has a vision, the entire politics is subordinated to it as well as to investors and domestic entrepreneurs. People vote their mayors based on their electoral visions. Well, it is supposed to be like that. And politicians should have their visions and carry them out. This is my recipe for success.
 
Who is Marián Gaj?
He was born on 14 February 1968 in Poprad with a diagnosis of polio. He has been living in Košice for eight years. He spent his childhood at the boarding school for physically disabled in Vyšné Opátske having been surrounded by those who were house bound. “I learnt my lesson; it gave me a lot to my future life.”
He studied the secondary economic school in Košice. Between the years 1988 and 1992, he worked as an accountant and receptionist at the hotel FISS at Štrbské Pleso. He set up his own business in 1993 in the field of book- keeping and finances. As a self- employed person, he managed an economic and accounting company where he employed some people. In 2005, he established advertising and artistic firm Gajja Production House, s.r.o. “Work in my company provided mainly services in the field of culture; it helped me to meet many outstanding people. We support Anka Oroszová, a para- Olympic sportswoman; we cooperate with artists in Košice such as Gejza Sabadoš, Miro and Nataša Ďžunkos and Nicol McCloud. We released a few CDs and unique books. Working with people is something that I like and enjoy.” He is married and has three children.
 
Photo report
Hill Hoverla
The highest mountain in Ukraine offers magnificent views over the East Carpathian Mountains and reminds visitors of complicated history of Central Europe.
 
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the author
 
Like Kriváň (2494M) in the High Tatras is a national symbol of Slovakia and Slovaks, so it is Hoverla (2061m) in Black Mount in Ukraine the symbol of Ukrainian independence. Both mountains are connected by the same “mother”—the Carpathian Mountains. Although Slovak national climbing to the summit of Kriváň has had almost 170 year- tradition (The first climb was organized on August 26, 1841 by G.F. Belopotocký, Ľ. Štúr a J.M. Hurban), Hoverla became a symbol of Ukrainian citizenship after 24 August 1991 when Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union, which was falling apart at the time.
 
Viktor Juscenko, a former Ukrainian president, gave Hoverle its political character. In the year 2001, he declared formation of the political party Our Ukraine at the summit of the mountain. During his mandate, every year, in July, he climbed up this mountain (in 2005 directly from the helicopter) to give a speech predominantly about unifying the state and Ukrainian nation.
 
Symbol of Carpathian Ruthenia?
However, Hoverla is a national symbol of Ruthenians who have been living in the East Carpathian Mountains and in Carpathian Ruthenia. Their present country- Ukraine, however, does not respect them as an independent ethnical minority (unlike in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia and Hungary) and state power perceives them as political and cultural activists as unwanted separatists and the “agents” of Moscow. Ruthenians last met on the top of Hoverla on 13 – 15 August 2010 within the event called “Carpathian Ruthenians- one, inseparable nation! The International Ruthenian group, who represented some Ruthenian associations and supporters of Ruthenian movement, reach the summit of the “highest mountain of Carpathian Ruthenia and carried a Ruthenian flag and the flag of the European Union to the top. The participants were from Carpathian Ruthenia, Slovakia, the USA and Germany,” reads Ruthenian Internet newspaper.
 
Looking back to history
I also visited Hoverla as I wondered what a view I will enjoy at the range of the mountains called Mamureš which is situated in the Romania Carpathian Mountains in the south and historical Halič in the north, which was a part of Poland between the years 1918 and 1945. I wanted to see not only Halič, a home place of many Jews, Poles, Ruthenians as well as White Croatians but also pre- war Czechoslovak and Polish state border. Its border stone are still rimming the range of Hoverla and force us to think about the history of Central Europe and Carpathian Ruthenia which used to be a part of Czechoslovakia for 20 years. Who knows, if President Beneš had not agreed with Stalin, it could have been a part of the Slovak Republic… Or an independent state.
 
Gaz- a mountain taxi
And how did I get up to Hoverla? I found my basic “camp” in a small hotel in the town of Rachov, in the centre of Greek Catholic Hutsuls (an ethnical group of Ruthenians). The journey from Uzghorod to Rachov (approximately 200 kilometres) took me five hours by car, it is impossible to go faster even at night. The next day mountain tourist taxis arrives to pick me and my Ukrainian friends up- taxis, i.e. non-destroyable, twenty- year old lorries called Gaz. During our journey to the village of Hoverla which leads from Rachov via the villages of Roztoky, Bohdan and Luhy, the driver told me that those Lorries have an incredible consumption- according to the way of driving between 70 and 100 litres of oil per a hundred kilometres. They reach and average speed of 45- 50 kilometres per hour. “They are very reliable and safe cars. They will “ survive” sand in desert, unlike –American Hammer,” a driver told me with a great deal of pride while I was trying to take some pictures of nature and Hutsuls´ country architecture.
 
Journey through the forest
We are at the end of the village of Haverla at a big wooden gate. It is an entrance to the forest of the Carpathian bio- spherical reserve. My hosts pay an admission fee of 10 hrivnas per person (approx. 1.3 Euro) and for transport. At that time, I had not idea that I would be sitting in Gaz for the next hour and a half while an old military road would lead us to the saddle Sidlovyna (1537meters) after steep and endless serpentines. This road connects the valley of White Tisa and Lazeščina. During the World War I, it was used for supplying Austro- Hungarian army that dug up at the ridge of Black Mount. The road was demanding some sharp serpentines cannot be passed at once. The driver had to try twice or three times. First he drives into the bend as much as possible, and then he changes to rear gear and then tries again gear one.
 
From the saddle to the mountain
Finally, we got to the saddle of Sidlovyna. There is a wooden cabin being used as an information point as well as a newly built chalet. After short refreshment, I set up on a 500- metre easy climb. After a few meters I notice an orthodox chapel. I stop at it for a while, I thank Our Lord for life and a say my prayers. Not only for Ukrainians and Ruthenians but also Slovaks so that they get rid of value chaos that destroys us more and more.
Higher I climb, nicer and nicer views I get on Black Mount. I see Hoverla in front of me, another beautiful mountain- Petros (1780m) behind. I do not know where to look first. Slopes of the mountains are covered with beeches and spruces. At the altitude of 1500 meters, sub- Alpine grass, known as poloniny appears. I stop in the middle of my way to drink fresh water from ht spring and enjoy the views towards Romania. After a few minutes, with a few breaks, I walked steeply to the summit. The sun was shining and I felt really well.
 
Drink and break a bottle of alcohol
There is a small ledge (platform) with a Christian cross and approximately five – meter – concrete column. Apart from the magnificent views, a damaged stone Ukrainian “trident”, a state symbol of Ukraine and a marble slab, in which soil from all the regions of Ukraine is placed, attracted my attention too. I notice a lot of broken bottles around the stone column chiselled by many inscriptions. Then I learnt about Ukrainian tradition according to which, after reaching the summit of Hoverla, one has to drink a bottle of alcohol and then break it… At that moment, I imagined what it might have looked like there in July when a lot of Ukrainian go there to celebrate their independence. In 2005, when President Juscenko gave a speech in front of 16,000 people, the weather suddenly changed and during a strong storm, a lightening killed one man and two others died because of health problems.          
 
Justice
What is the true of the Slovak judiciary and of the Minister of Justice Mrs Žitňanská? From Mr Štefan Harabin's speech to the Slovak parliament which was ignored by public and so-called free and independent media.
 
Arguments against Media Clichés
 
“I am not willing to compromise in this. With no one. Ever. If they want to criticize Harabin, they need to have a concept. They need to have a certain idea. When have these people from “the party of twenty” ever built an idea? The idea about how the judiciary should look like? What should the future look like and how to speed up the proceedings?” asks the president of the Supreme Court of Slovak Republic.
 
Prepared by Dimenzie
Photo: Jozef Vesely
 
Mr President of the National Council of the Slovak Republic, honourable Members, I wish to thank you for this opportunity to address Parliament and to express my views to the question of the serious draft legislation amending the Act on Judges and Lay Judges. At the outset, beyond what I have prepared, I would like to ask Minister of the Justice on one point. She has been talking continuously about an internal corruption. The question is, whether she as the teacher of a law school knows the provisions of the criminal law? If there is an internal corruption, then I am asking: how many times did she file the complaint of a criminal offence? Because that is serious matter.
 
Despite the media campaign effected by Minister, it is a miracle that justice still has the 30 percent credibility. Which of the politicians has 30 percent credibility? There is the need to tell that 50 percent of the person participating at the court procedure always lose, because only half of them can be successful. With regard to criminal law, we can say that 99 percent of participants are not glad with the decision, because a maximum of 1 percent is acquitted, or if they are not acquitted, they are not satisfied with the amount of awarded penalty. If we want to build the justice on media campaign, then we go back into the 1950s, when the court proceedings were based on these media and political campaigns and the courts were there only to hold the person guilty. The same applies to the awarding of penalties. I do not know if that what you do in the terms of transparency and selection procedures should lead to the effect that the criminal judges would be elected by prisoners in Leopoldov? And then how the security of the state will be? If you have an information on internal corruption you are obliged to file the complaint.
 
Ignoring the constitutional conditions and the Judicial Council of the Slovak republic
The Act on Judges and Lay Judges is one of the key laws for the judiciary and its shape determines the development of rule of law in Slovakia. Therefore it is with regret that I have to state that the proposal lacks serious professional public discussion. The comments of the largest professional organizations of judges - the Association of Slovak Judges and the Slovak Union of independent judiciary - were ignored as well as the opinions of the judicial councils and the Plenary of the Supreme Court. The present draft legislation was not discussed with the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic. Proposal to the conciliation proceedings to be hold in the afternoon came at 10.00 o'clock in the morning. The Judicial Council could not discuss the draft legislation during the three-hour period designated by the Minister. For this reason we asked for fixing another date. The date was not fixed, therefore I turned to the Prime Minister, who didn't enable that the draft legislation was discussed within the Judicial Council despite it is a constitutional requirement. In this connection I propose, that the draft be returned to government in order to respect the Constitution of the Slovak Republic.

When will the Minister establish Legislative Council?
The Judicial Council has nevertheless sent several written comments on the substantive issues, which were not taken into account. Several proposed changes were not available for comment and the Judicial Council become aware of them only when the proposal was submitted to the National Council. I even don't know which version of the draft legislation is currently being on discussion in the National Council, and whether the draft was discussed in the government.
It is probably a intentional conduct of the Minister as she has not established a new functioning Legislative Council to the effect that the draft legislation is not discussed within the Government Legislative Council. Whatever the composition of the Legislation Council, it would not approve the draft legislation, because of the substantive errors. Furthermore this draft brings tensions into the judiciary and a consciousness of corruption in the judiciary is suggested by the State authorities.
 
Law enforcement or a “theatre performance”?
Madam Minister, you mentioned the law enforcement. However, what type of law enforcement do you mean, when you as a state authority and a member of the government, talk about corruption? You as the national authority attack another public authority, the courts and then you want that someone who enters the courtroom has a confidence in relation to court? In our lives as well as in the law applies the famous roman dictum “quo bono“ - for whose benefit? Now I would like to tell openly, that these changes lead to only one goal - to take control over the judiciary contrary to the rules that have been enforced by yourselves during previous governments, and to install your nominees, who could not succeed in judicial elections and are not the judicial authorities.

“20” and the reform of the judiciary
Madam Minister, you rely on the group, I call it “20”, who are these people? These are your former officials who had collaborated with the political power. These people stood for election to the Judicial Council in the 2007, however the jury rejected them and did not choose them as a members of Judicial Council, because there are not judicial authorities. These people stood as well as the candidates to the Association of Judges - the largest professional body comprising about six hundred members - at the end of 2009 and they were not elected. Therefore they created so-called “Group of 20”. You rely on twenty people who do not indicate a model for other 1400 judges.
The “reform” proposals are based on a “group of twenty” and not on the comments made by the council of judges established in every court, and if there is not the council of judges, there is a plenary. You talk about transparency, I invited you to attend the plenum of the Supreme Court, you didn´t appear, as you were probably afraid to argue before 82 judges.

The real problems of judges are not addressed
There has been such a trend in the judiciary since 2006 that we have reduced the number of old cases taking over five years to 26 000, when you have left us as a Minister and even before as a Secretary of State 72 000 cases taking over three years. This trend was highly positively evaluated by Lord Justice Thomas. We have accelerated the proceedings on the regional courts of hundred percent. During one year at the Supreme Court I reached the speed up of the procedure of hundred percent. I ask you, what speeding of the court procedure is intended by the submitted draft legislation? To express it clearly, the procedure will not be speeded up.
Representatives of political parties of the current coalition along with NGOs try to create the impression that courts are not transparent and that they decide not on the basis of law. They choose individual cases and try to scandalize judges, however they have never addressed problems of justice, such as backlog and subsequently long lasting litigation. They have never addressed the problems of possible obstruction of the parties, never addressed the working conditions of judges etc.
 
They want to slow down legal proceedings
You are going to reduce the number of judges, with the view to retirement of some older judges. We have increased the number of judges by two hundred, so we were able to remove the old cases, and speed up court proceedings. I'm curious about the extent of the impacts when one hundred judges leave the judiciary. This would lead to the increased backlog and the higher number of application lodged with the European Court in Strasbourg and damages awarded.
I have already mentioned that longtime media offensive against the judges reduces the credibility of the judiciary, but I have also said that thirty percent of the credibility is a record. Madam Minister, what credibility had justice when you were leaving? It is for the last ten years always around 30 percent. And you say that only now it has 30 percent credibility. After all, when are you were leaving, it had 28 to 29 percent of credibility. The courts decide on five and half million people, and many decisions concerning the coming generations. I ask if someone from the critics realized that if we want a modern judicial system, the investments are necessary, particularly the investment in the human resources and in the entire judicial system. During one year there is more than 200 000 new cases lodged with the courts of the Slovak Republic. More than 1400 judges decide annually more than one million cases. These facts have not been reported. And you are going to reduce investment in the judiciary what will result in delay of the proceedings.
 
The government tolerates the faults of disciplinary prosecuted judges
The suggested budget for the Supreme Court includes removing the assistants of judges while it was only the previous government that allowed to extend the number of assistants. Consequently, this speeded up the proceedings at the Supreme Court. Now you want to slow it down again when you want us to get rid of our assistants. However, you insist on proceedings to end faster. On the other hand, serious issues such as drunk driving of the judges, falsify the presence of the judges during the voting, mistakes during decision making about imprisonment of those indicted on a charge of murder, which allows them to be released and set free, are quietly tolerated and left unnoticed by current coalition.
Madame Minister, can you please explain to the members of the Parliament how do you want to make the judiciary more transparent, when you allowed the judge who falsified the presence at the proceeding (which evidently is a crime – abuse of public agent`s powers) to practice his decision making powers? This is transparency! This is how we openly want to build justice. With these people. He falsified the written record from the proceeding. So this is how it is done in the justice - To set the murderers free. And when they are disciplinary prosecuted, they are suddenly put in a position of Harabin` s critics. The critics of Harabin. If they want to criticize Harabin, they need to have a concept. They need to have a certain idea. When have these people from “the party of twenty” ever built an idea? The idea about how the judiciary should look like? What should the future look like and how to speed up the proceedings?
Therefore, is your process of transparency about cleaning the judiciary from these friends or put them in positions and give them powers, when they are reasonably suspected of breaching the most authoritative obligations of judges? Is it possible for a minister in Great Britain to reprieve the judge who falsified the presence of his colleagues at the voting, someone who was accused of assassination? But here these judges have to be protected despite the fact they set the murderers free. You see, my problem is that I am not willing to compromise in this. With no one. Ever.        
      
Selection procedures of judges have to be independent from execution
The fact that the current condition of justice is good, although there is always something to improve, is also reflected in a letter of one of the biggest judiciary authorities in the world. It was Lord Justice Thomas, the current President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, who, after his visit in Slovakia, wrote a long letter. I will cite from the letter, however, it will be also delivered to the Parliament members. It is so called At Memoar and it was also sent to you – Minister of Justice. Within the transparency, I managed to organize the meeting of you two. However, at that time you visited with British Minister of justice and you did not enable the President of the Supreme Court to meet with him, since you were afraid I would present different opinion about justice and tell him the truth.
 
Selection of judges for their appointment
“All judges must be appointed on the basis of previous righteous and transparent selection procedure. This procedure must be independent from execution and legislative power. Selection authorities are different among the member states. Sometime it is the Judicial Council to appoint the judges, sometimes it is a totally independent organ. However, the basic rule is that within the selection authority, the majority of members need to be elected from justice.” Not three political nominates as suggested in this draft bill. “All of the members have to be independent from internal as well as external factors.” You are talking about corruption within the justice. Later, it will be political corruption when you will suggest three nominates. I hesitate to assert it, because if I disposed of evidences I would file a criminal complaint.    
 
The Judicial Council and its transparency
The decisions of the Judicial Council are transparent. All of them are made public at internet, unlike decisions of coalition board. Coalition boards decides in the name of 5 and a half million citizens and its decisions are not made public at all. The Judicial Council decides about 1,400 judges (or more) and all of its decisions are made transparently public. Nor does the government itself make its decisions public. What is your point then? Populism! The Judicial Council should substantiate court decisions. My question is – how? The Parliament substantiates decisions when a certain bill does not pass, since the result of decision process of the Parliament is for example presenting the candidates for the election of the Constitutional court judges. When certain nominate is not elected, the Parliament substantiates the decision. This is also implied within the Judicial Council. The Judicial Council elects and appoints judges. When a certain candidate does not fulfill the criteria and therefore is not elected, the Judicial Council substantiates its decision. The written reasoning, just as you suggest, includes, for example – three voted for, four voted against and five abstained from voting. This is the decision`s substantiation. Then my question is how will the Parliament substantiate the decisions, when it presents the candidates for constitutional judges to the President of Republic? It is total non sense. Courts do substantiate their decisions. However, they do so within the decision making process in criminal, civil, commercial and administrative cases. Only the Judicial Council is on the same level as the government and the Parliament and the results of voting cannot be substantiated.     
 
Composition of the Judicial Council
I will continue with Lord Thomas for a while. “The composition and function of Judicial Councils differ from state to state. In certain cases, where the judge is asked to practice his or her function in the Judicial Council full time, he or she is excused from practicing his position of a judge and therefore, he or she cannot be in the function of the President of the court. However, in other cases, where the membership in the Council is not full time, the members of the Council are mostly judges that are also presidents of courts or have other, additional functions. It depends a lot on scope of authorities whether this incompatibility will exist or not. General incompatibility between the membership in the Council, please Madame Zitnanska, listen carefully, and the presidency at court. Of course, in cases connected with the court certain member is the president of, he or she has to be especially careful to be able to avoid the conflict of interests in all questions that arise, including the appointment and disciplinary issues in relation to “his” court.” Membership of any president of court is especially needed in cases when issues concerning the judiciary of “his or her” region or county and its personal and material aspects are discussed.
 
From a clerk`s chair to judge´s robe?
I am asking how this draft bill presented by Minister Zitnanska solves these problems? Selection procedures of previous four years were carried out according to the rules set by the Minister. These rules have not changed. It can be easily proved. Does she oppose against the institute of trainee judges, which is very positively evaluated for example in the Czech Republic? Also the selection of judicial assembly? In Slovakia, the prosecution also has its trainee judges. Are these judicial candidates allowed in prosecution but not allowed in courts? You misinterpret two concepts. Higher judicial clerk, the function created by you, is an institute of a judge`s assistant. It is a function of a clerk. Trainee judge is a person, prepared by specific judge for his future function as a judge. That is why the prosecution kept this function and that is why the Czech kept this function. It happed many times in selection procedure that the trainee judge from prosecution applying was successful and was chosen just because they have a “better selection”. That is why the function of trainee judge was established by us. I am asking you Madame Zitnanska, is your goal to make future selection of judges look like the way you select people for certain positions at the Ministry of justice and in all society? If so, then the position of a judge can easily be taken for example by Mr. Nechala, presently working for non for profit non - governmental sector, connected to current political parties or you Ministerial clerk Mr. Maliar, who as a higher judicial clerk became the director of the Section of civil law at the Ministry of science, has not passed judicial exam and yet, selects judges. Higher judicial clerk attended selection procedure at the Supreme Court to select judges… Madame Zitnanska, are you calling this expertness? According to what criteria do you select them? According to their membership in political party? It has been here before in 1950s and it did not end up very well. Again, will people from clerks` chairs straight put on judge`s robe before the election, just as it happened in 2006? You had twelve clerks at the Ministry of justice and all of them started to wear judge`s robe without attending selection procedure? This is what you are aiming at? This is how you want the future selection of judges to look like?
 
The judiciary is endangered by its possible submission to executive power.
The presented bill draft about courts and judges extremely interfere with the current organization of judicial power. It changes the position of judges, it establishes major conceptual changes in the organization of judiciary and therefore diverts from the balanced adjustment accepted by the consensus of political parties and judicial assembly on the basis of long term legislation preparations between the years 1999 – 2003. The acceptance and passing of the suggested bill will by the judicial power be considered to be a new submission of judiciary to executive power in all major aspects of courts administration, position of judges as well as a deviation from internationally accepted suggestions which help to guarantee the independence of judicial power. While evaluating the suggested changes in legislation, concerning the status of judges, administration and self government of judiciary, it is inevitable to answer few questions like: whether these changes will strengthen the attained level of independence of judicial power or they will not, or whether they decrease or totally eliminate the independence and separateness of judicial power. The basic criteria while evaluating the suggested changes is to ensure application of the constitutional principal of independence of judicial power from executive and legislative power as well as separateness of judicial power from other state organs and authorities.
(From the speech of Stefan Harabin, the president of the Supreme Court of Slovak Republic presented in the Parliament on October 19, 2010)
 
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