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IVO Think Tank Protested against PM Fico’s Reaction to 2007 Slovakia Report

The independent think tank Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) is protesting against the tone and contents of the Prime Minister Robert Fico's reaction to IVO's 2007 annual report on the state of society. IVO wants the prime minister to discuss the report though, as it remarks, so far he has preferred rather a monologue. Grigorij Meseznikov, Martin Butora and Miroslav Kollar wrote on behalf of the think tank that they neither represent a political party nor do they compete with the prime minister for power and cabinet post. IVO has been here for more than 10 years, which is longer than the party SMER-SD exists and much longer than the current government is here. IVO is a renowned institution that published more than 120 publications, conducted dozens of surveys and organized dozens of international conferences, they claim. IVO President Grigorij Meseznikov and his colleagues underscored that IVO reports are not only the work of editors but big teams work on them, while authors and readers of individual chapters are experts with the best reputation.

IVO suggests that the prime minister came up with flat accusations though he probably has not read the report. IVO presents itself as an independent NGO and rejects allegations of its right orientation. They are concerned that Mr. Fico's accusations might threaten freedom of scientific research in Slovakia. Moreover, IVO considers his attitude a symptom of the authoritarian way of thinking unprecedented in the democratic Europe. According to IVO, only politicians in non-democratic countries treat non-governmental organizations like this. IVO compared Mr. Fico to President Vladimir Putin on this occasion who they say acts in a similar way.

PM Robert Fico accused IVO and authors of the regular annual report that they are biased and should rather openly say that they are a part of the right wing and have close ties with the previous government. He does not like as well that the first page of the book features a steamroller and the back one brings a picture of highways. The prime minister also gravely criticized the statement that his ruling coalition implemented tyranny of the majority last year.

Rising influence of the state, tyranny of the majority, cronyism, decreased legal certainty, and suppression of the third sector and of the opposition were characteristic of 2007 in Slovakia, according to the IVO report. The tyranny of the majority would have been visible mainly in parliament, where the ruling coalition totally suppressed the opposition. The report states with concern that the government deviated more and more from the principles of the rule of law last year. IVO analysts also point to a rise in nationalism and aggressiveness in the rhetoric of the government, relativizing of changes following the fall of communism and efforts to gradually take over control of public media. IVO President Grigorij Meseznikov sees significant parallels between the current government of Robert Fico and the 1994-1998 government of Vladimir Meciar and his methods, which led to U.S. and EU demarches. This is why the authors of the report characterized last year in Slovakia by likening the government to a steamroller, a metaphor that describes the ruling coalition and its relation to power.

BRATISLAVA, February 21, (SITA)



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