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Document 91999E001125

WRITTEN QUESTION No. 1125/99 by Leonie van BLADEL Threatening changes in the political climate in Slovakia

OJ C 370, 21.12.1999, p. 168 (ES, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, IT, NL, PT, FI, SV)

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WRITTEN QUESTION No. 1125/99 by Leonie van BLADEL Threatening changes in the political climate in Slovakia

Official Journal C 370 , 21/12/1999 P. 0168


by Leonie van Bladel (UPE) to the Commission

(27 April 1999)

Subject: Threatening changes in the political climate in Slovakia

The political climate in the Republic of Slovakia has been subject to change since the new government took office. The board of the Slovak journalists association, which sympathises with the HZDS of the former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, reports that young journalists who do not share the views of the new coalition are finding it difficult to work. Apart from public criticism of journalists, ostracism at work and blocks on career development have already been noted in the months since the new coalition has been governing the country. In addition the journalists association has complained that virtually no attention has been paid at European level to the murder of Ján Ducký, the Minister for European Affairs in the previous cabinet, which has been heavily criticised by the current coalition. The press organisation points to a similarity with a pattern to be seen in the political life of Balkan states whereby hate campaigns are followed by murder.

1. Is the Commission prepared to lodge protests with the present government of Slovakia concerning the pressure being placed on members of the press unacceptable to it?

2. Is the Commission prepared, in the interest of democratic progress in Slovakia, to urge the present government of that country to halt the campaigns against politicians from previous governments and will it ask whether a judicial inquiry has been started into the murder of Ján Ducký?

Answer given by Mr van den Broek on behalf of the Commission

(7 May 1999)

1. The furtherance of the independence of the media features amongst the accession partnership medium-term priorities for Slovakia. The Commission is monitoring progress in this area through the Europe agreement institutions and the regular reports. Should clear violations of media independence be detected, the Commission would raise them at the appropriate level. The Commission has no knowledge of any substantiated indications of discriminatory actions against journalists in Slovakia since the present Slovak government came into power in autumn 1998.

2. The Commission is aware of a number of criminal cases brought against political figures in compliance with Slovak law. In this context the Slovak parliament lifted the immunity of two people linked to the previous government. The Commission, however, has no evidence of any campaign to discredit politicians of the previous government. Concerning the murder of Mr Ducky, a criminal investigation has been undertaken and an arrest made.