Slovak government rejects accusations of corruption over EU presidency events

By bne IntelliNews November 22, 2016

The Slovak government has rejected accusations that some of its preparations for running the EU's rotating presidency were marred by corruption.

Bratislava has been in the headlines since it took over the rotating presidency of the bloc in July, not least because of Britain's referendum decision to withdraw from the EU.  To add to Slovakia's problems, a former employee at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now claimed that the budget for events to mark the takeover grew alarmingly and was pulled from public procurement oversight.

Zuzana Hlavkova quit in February due to the problems, she told a press conference organized by the local chapter of Transparency International. The former ministry employee claims the ministry applied an exemption from public procurement procedures for a project to organize a ceremony presenting the Slovak presidency's logo. Following that move, purchases worth up to €162,000 concerning the Slovak presidency could be carried out without public tenders. She also says contracts have been hidden.

Hlavkova says she met Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak in order to discuss her complaints, but the minister refused to admit any flaws regarding the presidency budget.

The government did not hold back in its reaction. “We firmly reject accusations … the ministry has nothing to hide”, the foreign ministry retorted. “The former employee is commenting on matters which she is not fully familiar with due to her lower rank position, which are not related to her previous job description, and which exceed the duration of her work contract.”

However, the calls for action are mounting. The director of Transparency International Slovakia called on the government to submit all documents concerning the issue, a demand backed by the populist opposition party OLaNO-NOVA.

"We're calling on him to release all expenditures in detail," said OLaNO-NOVA chief Igor Matovic, according to TASR.

"I always believed that Miroslav Lajcak was one of the more decent ones from Smer-SD. Unfortunately, following the testimony, I have to observe that he's placed himself among other Smer people like [Prime Minister] Robert Fico and [Interior Minister] Robert Kalinak," said Matovic.


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