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How a present intellectual person differs from a victim of a predator? Just only by the fact that he is his food. Being convinced that he is living in the most unlimited freedom as it has ever been on the earth, being satisfied with this deliberate and voluntary finding, he works like a busy bee on new geopolitical status, on a new division of trophies of human predators, currently, however, not among people sitting at the same table as it used be but just to benefit one of them. When I attended a candle manifestation in Bratislava held on 25 March 1988 and when after 17 November 1989 as the only employee, I supported requirement of demonstrating students in public, I did it in my conviction that the main goal of the communistic movement was not to improve the living standard of people but elimination of Christianity, both Catholic and Orthodox as well as their state support that were mutual more or less profitable. Likely, its enlightenment start behaved violently in France and before that everywhere in the world where a white foot stepped in. However, there was still a ray of hope that fall of the communistic system will end up reasons for hatred and division of the world. Nevertheless, it has not. West was forced to become democratic by circumstances, from the need of having psychological and moral domain over communism, which it obviously reached, but not from its essence. Today, there is nor communistic system nor its tutor USSR, however, the struggle has not finished yet and nor we have reached the phase of cooperation. On the contrary, bombing of Belgrade and the revolution in Kiev or orientation of the government in Tbilisi and Baltic states to NATO, not mentioning missile “ protection” system in Poland and radars in the Czech Republic, massive excuses for arming due to existence of “ extremist” Iran, is actually continual and permanent approach against Russian with the old goal – to disintegrate it and split it into many small states and let Russian the territory within the border of former Moscow Principality.
Artashes Gegamjan, a leader of the Armenian political party National Unity, recently wrote about these attempts in a very open way. Being disappointed that West did not throw his plans away, on the contrary, he is trying to direct kinetic energy of a falling north- African domino focused on gaining the control over Arab banks (that cancelled usury), to Russia. Finally, Satanovskij, a politoligist speaking Russian, directed his ideas for the BBC in the same way (Is NOMEN OMEN valid here as well?). Compared to him, A. Gegamjan wrote as an Armenian nationalist as he knows that what fall of Russia mean to his nation. However, I know what the fall of Russia would mean for the destiny of Central Europe, mainly for Slovakia and that is why I decided to quote his statements: “… July 17, 1959, the Congress of the USA passed the Public Law 86- 90 on Subordinated Nations with the subtitle Law on division of Russia. According to this law, politics of the communistic party of the Soviet Union led to annex and subordination of independent nations of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, etc.”, i.e. all republics of the union. Furthermore, it states as these nations see the USA as a citadel of human freedom, searching for a leadership in the matter of their own deliberation and in the matter of renewal religious freedom of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhism and other religions as well as personal freedom and independence which suppressed nations express… We must be those who will show them this historical fact that the nation of the United States shares their desire to regain their freedom and independence.”
For over fifty years, every president of the USA takes an oath on this law. According to experts, to carry it out would cost American taxpayers four billion dollars. The Soviet Union disintegrated; however, the Public Law 86- 90 has not been cancelled yet.”
The Soviet Union disintegrated although only its criminal communistic system was supposed to fall apart. The world is going global, the European Union is enlarging and there are other forms of international citizenship considered as well. Armenian politician Gegamjan, however, writes that the disintegration of the Soviet Union was possible just because of the initiation of national hatred from both inside and outside and that even at the beginning of the 1990s, the Soviet intelligence received some materials of so- called Harvard Project consisting of three part- Reconstruction, Reform, and Achievement. This project came from Zbigniew Brzezinski who analysed the Public Law 86- 90 and divided it into practical steps. This project dealt with dividing the Soviet Union into 22 parts. Splitting the Soviet Union into 15 states has already been carried out and it remained to divide “the rest”- to divide Russia in seven parts about which Brzezinski writes openly in his book Geostrategy for Eurasia. The main aim of this strategy called “Anaconda’s loop”, the access to the Baltic Sea (including Petersburg) would be under the control of Germany, access to the Black Sea including Crimea, Turkey would control Caucasus, and the access to the Pacific Ocean would be controlled by Japan in the south and by the USA in the north. In 2007, the same author Z. Brzezinski published another book called Another Chance in which he warns the future American president that there will be “no third chance”…
Moreover, how destroy and eliminate the remains of the Empire of Evil? Well, according to tried practice – initiating national and other resentments leading to chaos. John McCain, a candidate for the president of the USA also told something: “We have to treat Russia as a power of the second class as it is now, not as a mighty powerful state as it used to be… At the beginning, it is necessary to renew sales of defending weapons to Georgia. Our allies in Central and East Europe will view Georgia as a measuring tool whether the USA will protect them or not. Nevertheless, Russia sees Georgia also as a measuring tool of how much will be tolerated from their side and behind its borders. It must be changes.”
The Washington Post, however, adds:” President (Barrack Obama) took a defensive position in terms of interior affairs, which means it is his time for the international activities and it is the high time for America to attack. Russia is an ideal place to do so.”
Obviously, it is necessary to split up Russian President Medvedev and Putin first. Z. Brzezinski writes for the Newsweek that Medvedev “begins thinking in different way compared to Putin, especially in term of the future of Russia.” Other matters are rather clear, the orientation of Russian (or foreign) press and behaviour of so-called liberal opposition, not even talking about terrorism and attempts to initiate various resentments. In addition, many attempts to initiate conflicts Upper Karabakh between Azerbaijan and Armenia need not have to be mentioned. Two million of Azerbaijani people and million an a half of Armenians inhabit Russia! So the conflict behind the borders of Russia can occur in Moscow, Petersburg, Rostov upon Don, Krasnodar, Yecatering, however, where groups of nationalities live with an identity of acquired at the crossroads of two worlds- Muslim and Christian worlds. Gegamjan, in my opinion, finishes his article with a declaration that development and stability in Armenia depend on the development and stability of Russia.
Nevertheless, I ask myself whether there is a politician in Slovakia who is aware of the fact that the national life of Slovaks does not depend on Brussels or Washington, although we are obedient part of economic and power structures, however, from the long- term point of view, we depend on whether Russia will survive and whether it will become a balancing element of colonial tastes of West as well as on our behaviour to Russia. Let us stop perceiving our future through pink glasses, deliberators from oppression might soon chance into rulers. So far there is the only politician courageous enough to think about it; he is ten years away from active political influence in our country, but who can guarantee if it is so…
Teodor Križka, a poet and an editor-in- chief of biweekly magazine Kultura
Only independent judicial power is a main pillar of democracy
“I face an opponent who controls the entire police apparatus and medial machinery. My conscience is innocent and I will not give up unless I prove the truth. If politicians are not satisfied with the development of the state of law, they must be aware of the fact that high- quality laws are the base and neither them nor judges” claims Štefan Harabín, Chairperson of the Supreme Court of the SR and the chairman of the Judicial Council of the SR.
Photo: the author
He has been under media and political pressure since 1998 when the parliament voted him the chairman of the Supreme Court of the SR. Ján Čarnogurský (KDH) was his main critic and opponent for many years. Daniel Lipšic (KDH) has been his opponent over the recent years and he has been joined by Lucia Žitňanská (in the past a candidate of KDH, at present SDKÚ- DS), Mikuláš Dzurinda (SDKÚ- DS), Ivan Mikloš (SDKÚ- DS) and Iveta Radičová, Prime Minister (SDKÚ- DS).
Mr Harabin, how should the public explain your few- year struggle for independent jurisdiction and relationships among politicians?
I would not call it a struggle as it is about the basic principles pf democracy and gases of the state of law. Neither is it the conflict of the state versus judges. It is about the era we are living in. Unfortunately, not only in Slovakia but also in the countries with developed democracy face various threats in the form of precautions and interventions against human rights from the side of powerful structures, which are far way from the main principles of the American constitution, basic Charter on Human Rights, and Magna Charta. This struggle for liberty reflects in the attempts of executive power to subordinate independence of the judicial power. A judge cannot simply make decision according to politicians´ wishes. The constitution, human rights, international agreements, laws and objective findings of facts and evidence oblige him. If politicians are not satisfied with the development of the state of law, they neither must be aware of the fact that high- quality laws are the base and them nor judges. Over the past twenty years, we have had passed many laws very quickly and plenty of amendment of amended amendments. Thus, chaotic legislative “jungle” is being created instead of unambiguous legal environment.
Why are you not acceptable for the post of the Chairman of the Supreme Court of the SR and the chairman of Judicial Council of the SR when you are being supported by the significant majority of judges?
Well, it is rather the question for a group of politicians. We live in democracy so as politicians they have their right for it. However, as representatives of supreme powers, they should show mutual respect and try to cooperate to benefit of our citizens and state. Let me mention a few examples in the Czech Republic: The Constitutional Court stated that it was impossible to hold early- parliamentary election in terms of circumstances under which that situation occurred. They all respected it, no one attacked constitutional judges. At present, they also cancelled tough restriction laws that have such a great impact on citizens and budget. They all respect it although on the one hand, it cost the state hundred million crowns, but on the other hand, it protected citizens. Likewise when the judges´ salaries had been reduced, now, after the verdict of the Constitutional Court, Mr Pospíšil, a Minister of Justice, pays them. Judges are the pillars of democracy but they must be independent and politicians must not rule them.
Theoretically, if you gave up all your posts, what would be the influence on Slovak judiciary?
Personally, I think, none. Once, after the verdict of the Constitutional
Court, I let it be. I continued trials and making decisions. I had no worries and spent my free time with my family. I was not interested for particular media that I wanted to pay me back for their lies about my family, work although no money can wash away all wicked and deceitful dirt from you. Anyway, let us get back to the question. At the time when I was an ordinary judge, judges in Slovakia, as the only ones in Europe, had to guarantee their decision by their personal properties. It is a total legal non-sense as majority of verdicts, and senates pass mainly appeals where a judge freely votes according to criteria mentioned above. Therefore, it is a collective decision and no one, an investigator, a prosecutor, a judge or a public agent can be prosecuted because of his or her legal opinion. Entrepreneurs are not liable with all their properties although they can be tunnelling (fraud) their own companies purposely but judges are. Consequently, many judges visited me as asked me to take over the post of the Minister of Justice and put the things in the rights and original status as they had been after the integration of Slovakia in the EU. They wanted me to give the laws their sense, as it is an art of good and justice. At that time, there were more then 79 disciplinary actions that apart from a few exceptions ended up in the dustbin; there many police interventions at the Supreme Court, at JUDr. Lipovský, one of the greatest and reputable (abroad as well) specialist for criminal law, withdrawn chairpersons, listening devices at courts, but first of all, medial war against judges from the side of the Minister of Justice. I wonder that we have more than 30 per cent credibility which most of politicians do not have.
Would you stay to work as a judge at the Supreme Court of the SR?
As a boy, I wanted to be footballer and a president. I found it in the post of a judge. Although they are still searching for compromising materials against me, elaborate cases and have gone through thousands of my verdicts, they have not found anything. I can support each of my verdicts and I am able to explain and prove them.
In 2008, Daniel Lipšic led the greatest medial attack against you at the time when you were the Minister of Justice. He claimed that you know Badik Sadiki, an alleged former boss of Kosovo- Albanian mafia in Slovakia, in person. Sadiki was not given to the Swiss police but paradoxically, he was given Slovak citizenship in 2002 when he was being prosecuted. At the time, Vladimír Palko (KDH) was the Minister of Interior and Daniel Lipšic (KDH) was the Minister of Justice. Mr Lipšic supported his statements by a kind of re-writing of a dialogue between you and Mr Sadiki which suddenly appeared in media and which he handed over to the National Security Authority. The General Prosecution of the SR also approved its authenticity in July 2008. Publicizing of this recording was supposed t force you to resign, gave you the label of a man, and judge who is “a shame of Slovak judiciary” as you were in “friendly relationship with mafia”. However, you did not resign. How do you perceive that campaign after a couple of years? What is true and what is not?
How much space do you intend to give me in your magazine? As this medial discreditation event appears to be like a novel. I say one thing- sometimes God’s mills grinds slow but sure and time will tell the truth. I have stated since the beginning of this case that this man is not my friend but that I have known his wife since I was young. They have always been asking me to explain it and I have already answered all their questions although they keep repeating them repeatedly. My statements are officially publicized on the website of the resort of justice but some media still tell lies that I have not explained anything…
Compared to present politicians I do not have any photographs taken with people from so- called mafia lists, neither I helped and signed a pardon to an entrepreneur accused and sentenced of blackmailing. I have never had coffee and made friends with a solicitor prosecuted in case of blackmailing entrepreneurs from Bratislava, allegedly by a mafia group. Moreover, I had no idea about accusations of my acquaintance’s husband. He had no sign written on his forehead: Be aware of me! At the time, there were no lists of mafia members on the Internet and so on, so I listen to statements made by the Minister Žitňanská who denied knowing her colleague and friend from this list. It makes me all sick. We must remember the fact that Mr Lipšic, as a top official in the resort of justice and later the Minister of Justice did not do anything so that a prosecuted person had not been given our citizenship and that trial was completed. It was just the Supreme Court of the SR, my “home” senate, cancelled this deliberating verdict in this case. I repeat once again, the Court of First Instance passed an acquittal at the time when I was an ordinary judge of the Supreme Court; Milan Karabín was its President at the time. No one wanted to listen to my objections, as I knew his wife.
The fact that they were unable to interrogate two witness who were imprisoned and known, is not a fault of either courts or mine but the fault of the Ministry of Justice. Whoever has a common sense must realize that what TV Markíza broadcast, was a dialogue having been retold by two TV presenters who are now the spokespersons of two ministers. I do not want to speculate but is it a coincidence? They had read a piece of paper that had never been implemented it any criminal files. It is allegedly supposed to be in an unofficial file that our legal system does not know. It has been all forged. According to this scenario, tomorrow I will bring a piece of paper containing a conversation without any approval, stamp, for example about how some politicians negotiate with someone about their commissions for billions. How many pieces of evidence can be elaborated this way in an hour- a hundred, a thousand? In addition, a former supervising prosecutor from the General Prosecution does not remember anything like that, nor do other people involved in this case. Therefore, it was the way to discredit my person as I pointed out huge procrastinations in the resort of justice. Personally, I think that they are able to hire an assassin sentenced for life if he proves made-up medial game. My conscience is clear and I will not give up, and I will prove the truth.
Have you taken any steps to protect yourself and have you taken a legal action against Mr Lipšic for these statements concerning this recording?
Certainly, I have already taken some legal steps. I would rather not specify them, as it would not be tactical from my side. However, it will be interesting. All these circumstances, which played what kind of role and mainly medialization. It all has its procedure; it is a twisted skein of lies that must be unwinding slowly. I face an opponent who controls the entire police apparatus and medial machinery.I have no illusions about personal revenge and I trust the former general prosecutor, Mr Trnka, and his statements about having been put pressure in the case of an investigator. As we are witnessing a police intervention on TV in the Czech Republic, it might happen that we will experience similar training at the Supreme Court Again. It would be a pity for this society as intervention against Mr Lipovský sheds a bad light on Slovakia abroad. Time has told that it was all based on the false witnessing by a criminal. Three powers of the state cannot compete against one another; it is necessary to suppress personal ambitions and sit at the table and negotiate.
Is Slovak judiciary a subject of power struggles and an object of interest of foreign intelligence services?
I will give you the following answer. Judges decide on interventions in private of citizens, on placing listening devices in their telephones, watching their email correspondence, listening to their premises. A judge has no opportunity to verify whom the particular telephone number belongs to and a citizen has no chance to find out that he or she is being listened. In November 1989, people of this country wanted more information and control, what is it like today? Let me be honest with you, although judges sign it, the system does not allow them sufficient control. It is rather formal as it was shown in the case of Attorney Kvasnica that ended up with a total fiasco for both the police and courts at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. Based on judge’s order, the police listened to Roman Kvasnica, an attorney. The judge had no chance to verify it and trusted the investigator. In spite of pressure from the side of judges to change the system, unfortunately, there is no willingness to negotiate. Personally, I am convinced that the system is not under control and it is a state in a state, theoretically, anybody can be legally listened even a prime minister as a judge has a minimum possibility of control. It is up to citizens and MPs to think about it. Criminal judges are surely ready to provide you with useful specialist’s information. Slovakia deserves not to be involved in cases of illegal and unreasoned listening of journalists, MPs and losses of recordings.
Does the Slovak judiciary hide a few unsolved and delicate cases, which have been a subject of power struggles in Slovakia since the Velvet Revolution? Mostly parties such as KDH, ĽS- HZDS, SDKÚ- DS and SMER- SD politically controlled the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Justice…
Well, media should be like “watchdogs of democracy”. This term is used widely even at the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg. Personally, I do view a prosecuted person according to his/ her views. I have never been particular cases; I have never made decision about officials from the intelligence service. So my answer might seen rather general. The judicial system, which has its roots in the Austro- Hungarian Kingdom and Roman law, is almost perfect. Although it might seem it is sometimes very slow, we have not had a lapse of justice for twenty years; it is a sign that the system eliminates this risk to minimum. In addition, this is what is essential to our citizens as years spent in prison, loss of the family and not everything just can be compensated just by money if a lapse of justice is found out. You always are given a change to appeal to the higher court within a time limit set up, from district to regional court where a senate passes a verdict and then there are many corrective means, appeals and constitutional complaints. That is why there is no point of bribing one judge and therefore a level of corruption in the judiciary system is rather low. What is a single judge approves your truth at the district court when three regional judges will cancel it. What will you gain? Nothing, it is all about the legal arguments. WE must be aware of the fact that the court is about the conflict of two sides. For example, such a divorce, usually each parent is interested in bringing up his/ her child that is why decision-making might seem unfair but it is always about children and they suffer most. It is very difficult to put on a gown and make decisions, fair decisions. It happens very often that a citizen, who is formally right, applies his / her demand in the court but after a period given for it, then it is enough so that the counterpart applied his/ her objection of prescription and the judge has to consider it. Therefore, it is necessary to increase legal awareness of our citizens. We should start at primary schools. Afterwards trials will be fuller of people compared to the past. At present, trials open to the public are just empty as people are fed up with politics and stop being interested in public matters. It is dangerous. If you attended a trial with people prosecuted from a murder, you would learn about evidence, everything is open to public and you do not have to be a lawyer.
Having been influenced by some media and declarations made by some Slovak politicians, Slovak public is supposed to think that the Slovak judiciary is ruled by so- called “almighty and rigid communistic and the State Security mafia” which has to be eliminated and replaced. What do you think about such opinions?
Judges as the only ones were checked after November 1989, many colleagues left advocacy. At the beginning of the 1990s, advocacy began to develop and it was a chance for clever and skilled lawyers who could acquire high-level income that cannot be compared to a judge’s salary. I repeat again that a defendant has so many rights and possibilities to avoid being prosecuted that trials are being prolonged so much. In commercial, civil and administrative issues, there is possibility of obstructions and one of the counterparts, which seems to be unlikely to succeed, suits prolongation of verdicts passed by courts. It is a duel and a judge pulls “a shorter string”, I mean holidays, work sick leaves, various senseless interpretations and so on. However, our legal system, which is elaborated by our politicians, allows doing so. I personally think that there ahs already been an exchange of generations, that there are much more active judges who appeared after November 1989. Obviously, some judges would lose their jobs if they had nobody to fight against.
Do American, British or other westerns diplomats intervene in the Slovak judiciary, or do they coordinate so- called proposals of reforms of judiciary as submitted by Minister Žitňanská?
I have no information about it. I meet diplomats and nobody has ever told me directly any objections. On the contrary, we are respected in foreign professional organizations of judges’ network of judicial councils. It is essential. Personally, my door is open to anybody and I do not avoid any discussions that will help judges and law enforcement. In addition, a diplomat has the right to take part in any trial so that he/ she can see that the process is transparent and legal. However, diplomats themselves talk about increase of personal responsibility of a judge for these verdicts. I feel sorrier about the fact that politicians´ statements regarding the Constitutional Court and their protests being organized against the verdicts of this institution. It concerns our reputation. Recent amendments have not brought anything just gain of political power at the expense of independence of judges and self- administration. Needlessly, the Slovak Association of Judges, the Judicial Council and their professional comments have been ignored. The state will not be rescued by decreasing judges´ salaries that have to other option to earn money because they cannot run their own businesses and they have to study and be trained continuously while the number of case increases every year. A status of oppressing independence of judges has been created. I personally think that these laws will be amended soon. On the other hand, I am glad that Minister Žitňanská continues in the project of electronic re- writing of spoken words directly into the computer during the trial. I initiated this project in cooperation with the Slovak Academy of Science. I am ready to help.
Based on Minister Lipšic´s proposal you were withdrawn your bodyguards whom you, as a President of the Supreme Court, had to have. It was too expensive and redundant (it cost 167,000 Euro) and allegedly you used them while travelling to exotic countries like Brasil, Australia and China, Why did you asked for protection? Are you worried about your life?
I did not ask for it, it was just given to me. Moreover, it was about official travels and not about holidays as the Supreme Court makes decisions about the appeals of a Specialized Court. For example some constitutional authorities and all specialized judges has to be protected 24 hours a day and during their holidays. What a pity that costs of, for example, a skiing trip in the Alps are not publicized… However, this is not my cup of tea. Regarding my foreign business trips, I always have to state that I have been invited to an international forum, a conference that judges, chairpersons of courts from the old member states of the EU attend. Some people really do not like the idea that I am the first minister in the era of the independent Slovak republic was went on an official visit in Israel where during my private holiday, Dorit Beinisch, a President of the Supreme Court of Israel, invited me for visit or the audience at the Pope, during negotiations with the representatives of Vatican, Armenian Katolokis, and others. Moreover, if it is considered as an exotic holiday to go to China based on their invitation where the whole world wants to enter and cooperate… Austrian judges train Chinese together with those from the EU, the USA and Australia. Sorry, but I find it rather childish, I saved the Ministry of Justice millions of euros as there had been no non- transparent and overpriced tenders held. I really mind, however, cancellation of cleaning services provided by people sentenced for the least serious crimes. It would be much cheaper compared to these services provided by private companies and the state would save a lot of money.
Why don’t you want to support Minister Žitňanská in her reforms that she has been pursing with the slogan “open judiciary to the public and public control? “
It is only a slogan, trials are open to public, verdicts passed by the Supreme Court are on its websites and nobody is interested in them. Sorry, but the only thing judges support is the electronic project of re- writing of spoken word. Moreover, only verdicts, where both parts agree, should be publicized on the Internet. Why should a citizen bear that the entire republic will read his / her divorce? In addition, what about victims of rape or paedophilia? I find this issue rather unsolved. In cases where the state or a state enterprise take part, web is appropriate but regarding civil trials of two adults, they should have the right to say whether they agree to publicize their verdict or not. A judge announces the verdict in public and there is nothing he should be ashamed of.
As a lawyer, I feel sorry that I have not read anything about quickening trials so that a citizen enforced his/ her rights in time, so that the decision on a crime was made on time. So that there are no procedural mistakes, legal usury, dishonest notaries and executors. We have to continue in repairing courts and mainly in the electronization of judiciary according to the Israeli model. I do not understand we want to open something that has already been opened. Public courts occurred in the 1950s when petitions for sentencing Milada Horáková and com. Very being held. Finally, they were rehabilitated but everything was public and transparent…
Are there any political pressures from the executive power on the independence of judiciary in Slovakia as well as in other countries of the European Union? Minister Žitňanská pursues something that is not acceptable even in the American judiciary system and the countries of the European Union.
At present, the amendment sets up the post of a strong and influential minister of justice. We heard about the reforms between the years 2002 and 2006, however, the system of selection process has nor been changes. Moreover, the greatest changes were, however, when Slovakia integrated in the European Union. It was a professional decision having been made after a long discussion. They were accepted by the European Union as well as by the lawyers in Slovakia. Nowadays, the rules are being cancelled and are preparing the ground for political judges. I guarantee that directors of all sections at the Ministry of Justice (high judicial officers) became judges just before the election as it happened in 2006. I feel sorry for the judiciary having been damaged by the media and politicians for over a decade. However, the trials have become faster over the past four years thanks to the reforms forced by the government of Róbert Fico. The Committee of Minister of Justice of the Council of Europe stated so in December 2010: Nevertheless, no one is interested in it, neither anybody pays attention to exact results and facts. The system in the USA is completely different; a judge has to seek favour of politicians.
How would you define the professionalism of Minister Žitňanská and your present interpersonal relationships?
Personally, I have nothing against her, she faces a tough situation in the resort as she has been given even less money than before and her private life is not easy either. A scandal with her son who drove despite having been taken his driving licence did not help her either. Nevertheless, she managed to stop the conditional prosecution, as she is a good lawyer because it is an unusual procedure. I wonder why non- governmental organization do not want to publicize this resolution. I am sorry she takes everything so personally.
Has your relationships been influenced by the fact that your wife has been made redundant from the Ministry of Justice where she worked as a regular employee at the Control and Complaint Department? The reason for laying her off was her relation to you and an opinion that it is not usual if a wife of a former minister is employed at the Ministry. How do you comment the reason of her dismissal?
Obviously, it is a proof that it was personal. According to a political candidate, my wife held the post of the head of the civil office to citizens of the second category. My wife came to work there at the time when I was not a minister of, her salary decreased compared to private sector by a few hundred euros. Right, I accept it but those declarations made by a person who has been playing a role of the greatest “wig” like during communism… You know it appears as if I said to someone that he/ she is a Christian democrat and should become a liberal because his private life is not in accordance with Christian morality and so on. However, I will not take any personal attacks against anyone; I would not be bothered to judge such a person.
In summer 2006, you took over the post of the minister of justice from current Minister Lucia Žitňanská. When you took the post, you claimed that during her era, she cancelled courts and the entire judicial system was falling apart. She left overpriced tenders, purchases exceeding millions of crowns and she did not pay any compensations to the victims of holocaust (from July 2002 to February 2006, she was a state secretary of the Ministry of Justice). When she took over the post after Mrs Viera Petríková, who was a minister for a year after your election for the President of the Supreme Court, she claimed that you had left the debts of over 16 million Euros. Is it true?
Kind of. Well, what is it all about? Judiciary still pays debts of a project of the Specialized Court, as there was no financial covering for this project. It was about the reconstruction of old military premises in Pezinok. It was not economical and overprices, it was a bad location of the court. They used 100 million crowns that had been supposed to be given to compensate victims of holocaust. Relatives of victims were dying and the state had not given them anything for ten years.
Debts to be paid to attorneys had also been left in 2006, not everything had been paid, and millions of crowns had not been given to experts. When a euro came, everything was paid, debts for attorney were finally paid and so were experts and victims of holocaust, however, it is not possible to plan how much money courts will need for the experts. Every year, more than 200 thousand cases, the Ministry of interior was in debts too. It is true that these debts remained as the crisis came up and the budget of the resort of justice was not set up for paying attorneys and experts. However, the situation has been lasting for twenty years. What a pity that the results of the audit have been withdrawn from the websites of the Ministry of Justice, it was a piece of reading issued by the Supreme Audit Office and Ministry of Finances- overpriced purchases, chairs to the legal help centres (a piece per 30,000 crowns), expensive rents of villas and other overpriced things.
The Judicial Council of the SR considers the 2011- 2013 judiciary budget not sufficient (the government finds it stabilizing) as it will not cover even financing the basic functions of courts. You claim that it is the worst budget for over the past 20 years. In practice, it means decrease in quality of decision- making processes and significant prolongation of trials what will have an impact just on citizens. What do you think? What will get worse?
Law enforcement will decrease; there will be no money for new projects, for electronization. We want modern courts and we do not spend a percent of a national budget on them. Almost 1,500 judges make almost million decisions a year. The trial procedures will slow down, it will not be possible to cope with it. The EU sets off on the way of electronization and increasing a number of judges.
Do you still insist on your opinion that the Programme Declaration of the Government in the field of judiciary does not contain a single step how to make trials faster, how to increase the law enforcement, how to improve credibility of the judges, that it does not contain a single word how to spread the legal help centres into poorer areas, how to fight usury and how to increase employment of prisoners?
I insist on it. Unfortunately, time will tell that I am right. It is about strengthening the power of the minister, liquidation of independence of courts and prosecution. Instead of reforms, it is deformation of what we made in the past. We must be honest and say that the system of selection procedures was transparent and eliminated corruption and unfairness.
Minister Lipšic claims that it is necessary to put thing in order at the Supreme Court of the SR. His interventions in independence of judiciary proves by saying that you as the President of the Supreme Court choose your judges who will make decisions during the appeal action against verdicts of the Specialized Criminal Court. In addition, that “your judges” will cancel verdicts passed by this Court due to shocking reasons… Is it true?
Well, I do not know where to start. The Minister of Interior tells lies in public, he is providing misleading information, which can be proved by the facts, and decisions made on withdrawals concerning the former Specialized Court, which hare publicized on the websites of the Supreme Court. Lipšic, Minister of Interior hid the facts that delicate cases of politicians having been accused of corruption- for example Peter B. (KDH), a former mayor of Rača, Eugen Č. (SDKÚ), a former vice- mayor of Košice, or Jozef M., an entrepreneur, which were not liked by investigators, judges, who belong to so-called critics of Harabin, passed verdicts and signed political petitions. Although Mr Lipšic, knows these judges and particular verdicts very well, he continues telling lies and makes me responsible for it. When decisions were being made on many special cases, I did not work at the Supreme Court. I do not decide about these appeals, either. In addition, the former Specialized Court in Pezinok passed a few deliberating verdicts in so-called delicate cases. For example, the case of Judge Soročina, where the minister himself took a legal action. Moreover, the Specialized Court in Pezinok fully deliberated Mr Soročina from the prosecution. So ended up (not valid yet) the case of Ľudovít B., a former chief of the National Agency for Supporting Small and Medium Businesses, at the Specialized Court in Pezinok, which seemed to be a political revenge in year 2005. Based on media statements, there is serious suspicion of political interventions in investigation.
At the Constitutional Court, there are to proposals for taking disciplinary action against your person submitted by Lucia Žitňanská, Minister of Justice, in November 2010. First proposal is to begin disciplinary action for serious disciplinary offence you allegedly did when you did not allow the auditors from the Ministry of Justice of the SR to carry out governmental audit at the Supreme Court. Minister proposed a disciplinary punishment by decreasing functional salary by 70 per cent for a year. What do you think of our proposal?
Legal non- sense. Only the court can make a decision on such a control and it decided that Mr Mikloš has no right for political control. Only the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic can control the Supreme Court of the SR as it is stated in the Constitution. Mr Mikloš will audit political case “Hayeks” is controlled by the Supreme Audit Office of the SR and Harabin? It just cannot happen in the state of law. Disciplinary actions for legal views, which are, moreover, right, it non-sense and belong to the 1950s. There are various activities initiated, they are willing to anything to punish me, but I am not afraid.
The second proposal for taking a disciplinary action is for a serious disciplinary offence when you allegedly violated the duty of random assigning of files what should also by punished by 70- per cent cut down on your functional salary for a year. How do you comment this proposal?
As a second legal non- sense. It is all done through proposals of the chairpersons of collegiums and the Judges´ Council makes a statement. Illegal interventions in cases are not allowed either at the Supreme Court or at any other courts. Not even theoretically as each judge has to find our first whether he is obliged to deal with an assigned case. If the case was assigned illegally, he must not make any decisions. For example, those kinds of arguments were used in case of one of people prosecuted from several murders that the police named as a leader of an organized criminal group. In addition, it is about the same legal non- sense as the investigator investigated based on the initiation of Zuzana Wienková. Do they really want to take a legal action against 20 judges of the Supreme Court, including my critics?
You are being criticized that as a Chairman of the Judicial Council, you have appointed your own people to the posts of the chairpersons of the courts. Is it true?
All chairpersons have gone through a selection process that has never been impeached, questioned; I have respected winners because the minister has the right of choice out of the first three successful candidates. Minister Žitňanská was unable to make a decision in case of two district courts, and it is about the game with chairpersons posts. She has to initiate a new selection process. As she claims, it is very difficult. At present, attacks against some chairpersons of the courts will be held.
How do you evaluate the fact that coalitional members of parliament have not let you to speak in the parliament for three times? Is it usual?
I do not know the country in the EU where this would have happened to the President of the Supreme Court. It is democracy; I wanted to talk about specialized status judges’ laws, about judges’ salaries and legal non-sense where the Judicial Council and professional organizations of judges were left out. It would be revealed that the kind was naked. I repeat, I am not afraid of discussions and I will be pleased to hear arguments of professionals.
The Advisory Committee of the European Network of Judicial Councils published Magna Charta on November 17, 2010, where it deals with the status of a judge and the role of independent judiciary. Is this Charta obligatory for politicians and executive power?
No, it is not but it should be at least as instructions for the reform. However, the Ministry of Justice moves against this trend. The status in our country can be called politization of judiciary- literally “orbanization”. It is necessary to read this document and notice trends in modern civilized world.
In January, Mikuláš Dzurinda, Leader of SDKÚ- DS, said that judges, who require the state to pay those 70 million Euro for alleged discrimination in terms of salaries, behave amorally. What do you and the Judicial Council think of anti- discrimination prosecutions of 700 judges?
Personally, I am very unhappy about such attacks on judges. Everybody, even a judge has his right for court protection. Politicians- they had chosen 13 judges gave them approximately 150,000 crown a month and told the public that those are the only innocent ones caused the entire case. The Constitutional Court declared that it was discrimination and thus judges took a legal action. I personally did not as the attention would have been drawn away from the essence of this problem and needlessly my colleagues would have to face accusations of considering money the only issue. That is why I did not take any legal action, but from moral point of view, they have their right for it whether the politicians like it or not. I keep saying that it would be enough if all those who had taken non- constitutional extra pays returned them, the problem would be over. It would be honest, moral and state would receive millions. It would be more than enough to say that: “This is a mistake.” Special judges in Spain receive extra pay just for special cases. We do not have terrorism and we are successful in eliminating organized crimes. The Judicial Council had already made its statement on the website.
Will independence of judiciary be strengthened and will the conditions for judges’ performance be improved since May 2011 when an amendment of the Law on Judges and Associate Judges comes into force?
Well, it is a question for the minister of justice. I wonder if we will learn something new apart from media commentaries about winds of change. We have already found out that apart from Mrs Wienková and minister’s official hardly anybody in interested in public session in Bratislava. In Snina, 30 people came to the session of the Judicial Council. I thank all participants for the interest they showed, it is all recorded and you can find it on the Internet. However, the number of views of these recordings is very low. It is all about specific issues for specialists, lawyers.
Do you expect further attack on your person? Why do you think that attempts of political businesses in order to shorten your operation and criminalization of your person will be increasingly growing through politically elaborated cases?
Although I keep talking about negotiations, personal revenge will continues. For some politicians with medial influence, Harabin is a topic number one. If I were not, their performance in politics would have no sense or contents. I have already experienced unbelievable situations where I had to face the toughest campaign during the election of the president of the Supreme Court of the SR. One journalist claimed that I had had to meet and kept in touch with a man whom I had sentences, well, what a great scandal. Fortunately, I had bodyguards who recorded everything. It was revealed that during an alleged meeting with that person, whom I had not known, I was in Croatia with my bodyguards. Then he changed the date, but at that time, I was not in East Slovakia. If I had not had bodyguards, I would not have been able to convince and prove that I did not know than man and I had never met him. It would have been an interesting story. I hope that we will not witness intervention of special units as we could see recently in the Czech television.
Who is JUDr. Štefan Harabin?
He was born on May 4, 1957 in Ľubica near Kežmarok. He studied law at the Faculty of Law at Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice. He began his career of a judge as a judicial trainee at the Regional Court in Košice in 1980. He was voted a judge on January 1983. After the Velvet Revolution, from 1990, he worked at the Regional Court in Košice. In 1991, he was elected the judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic. Between the years 1996 and 1998, he was a chairman of a criminal collegium and between the year 2003 and 2006, he was a chairman of the criminal senate. He was a President of the Supreme Court between the years 1998 and 2003. From 4 July 2006 to 2009, he was a Minister of Justice of the Slovak
Republic. On July 22, 2009, the Judiciary Council elected him the President of the Supreme Court of the SR. He speaks French and Russian; he has been married twice and has four children.
Humno- Ethnographical Museum
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He wanted to follow Jesus Christ in his sufferings
“He always mentioned Slovaks as brothers with whom we had common roots in the common country,” writes Alice, Esterházy´s daughter, in a letter that was read in Ursuline´s Church in Košice.
Universal Producer of Turnkey Furniture
The company UEZ, s.r.o. was helped not only by the European funds but also by the Slovak Ministry of Economy. Thanks to new modern Technologies, it competes other producers with design, price, quality and duration of the production process.
Photo: the author, the archive of UEZ, s.r.o.
The story of a successful family furniture production UEZ from Humenné began in 20202. At the time, Radovan Ulehla, one of the executives of the company decided that the company would start manufacture furniture. Until then, the company, which also specialized on supplies, assembling and maintenance of electrical devices and laundry washing services as well as dry chemical cleaning of clothes, had just sold furniture. The main reason was the lack of production companies in Slovakia which would be able to make furniture tailored to customer’s needs and according their specific requirements.
“We began from the scratch and set up the production of atypical pieces of office furniture and shelves. Step by step, we were buying simpler technological equipment and we found out that we were able to produce not only atypical pieces. Within the work based on orders, we initiated production of full kitchen units and built- in wardrobes which were on a great demand in the market. Later, we set up their mass manufacturing,” remembers Radovan Švehla.
Subsidy of 280,000 Euro
This mass production, however, revealed so technological weaknesses of the machines. Their up to millimetre preciseness was complicated by manual setting up of the machines in case of their repairs or exchange of parts. That is why the management began considering the investments into new technologies. In 2004, they applied at the Ministry of Economy for providing irreclaimable financial contribution within the Sector Operational Programme Industry and Services for support of energy saving and using renewable sources of energy.
“ As at that time we had a three- shift operation, we were preparing construction of a new hall. We were also thinking of using renewable sources of warmth, as we wanted to use thermal pumps for energy savings,” Radovan Ulehla continues.
The company succeeded in tender and received 280,000 Euro (46% were provided by the state from the public finances, and 53% were from the European Union) for its modernization programme. This contribution enabled them to buy three modern computer- controlled automatic machines /a cutting centre for shaping planks into required sizes, a machine for sealing edges and a processing centre) and thermal pumps that solved the issue of saving time and energy. “ For example, we did not have to keep the lights on and have non- stop operation any more. We suddenly occurred in a completely different situation. Using thermal pumps, we became one of the first firms in Slovakia which began implementing them in energy production,” he adds.
Crisis enlarged their range of goods
Thanks to new technologies, the company revived. From 2006 to the beginning of economic recession and financial crisis, for two years, they always had to increase capacities of their series production of office and other furniture for firms and entrepreneurs. However, the crisis stopped that promising development and forced the management to search for new options. “Decrease in orders of mass production, we turned to order- based production with higher added value. We enlarged the range of our products,” says Anton Ulehla, an executive of the company UEZ who established his company in 1991. At present, it employs 32 people and it’s a significant regional producer and seller of office furniture, kitchen units, hotel furniture, wall units, bedrooms, student and children’s bedrooms and furniture for lawyer’s offices, hospitals, surgeries of private doctors and houses providing social services.
The company produces original furniture from high- quality pressed fibreboards (MDF), laminate chipboards, veneers and massive wood. During production, they use high- quality hinges and we cooperate with reputable producers of these components, such as the companies Blum, Hettich, Hafele, Kaindl and Egger.
Searching for architects and designers
Many customers have no idea what their furniture should look like and they search for help at architects and designers.
“Our company cooperates with a designer group in Košice; together we carried out turn- key reconstructions of family houses, flats and furnishing of offices. As trends in furniture production industry have been changing so fast, we are still searching for architects and designers from all the regions on Slovakia so that we can change our ideas into real furniture,” Anton Ulehla continues.
The firm looks for skilled architects who cooperate with developers´ companies in order to work on bigger projects in Slovakia and abroad. This direction is the future of the company and opportunity for its further development. The company puts an emphasis on its original and popular products and does not forget about our environment. They acquired a certificate of quality management systems (ISO 9001:2008) and a certificate of environmental management systems (ISO 14001:2004). “Competition in furniture production is really high and we are aware of it and know that we have to be different to succeed. Our strengths are quality, speed and price which could be our competitive advantages. Our entire production process has a few control points which exclude possibility of delivering damaged parts. It is rather unlikely that a customer is delivered poor- quality or damaged piece of furniture,” Radovan Ulehla emphasises. Recently, his company purchased software for production management. He expects to make the entire production process more efficient, from the draft of the product through its production to its final assembly.
Car carriages and party cars are the hits
“ It is not only comfortable to travel by train but you can also eat and sleep well there,” says Igor Cap, Chairman of the Board of Directors and a CEO of the Company Wagon Slovakia Košice, a.s.
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