This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. C O N F I D E N T I A L BRATISLAVA 000606
C O R R E C T E D COPY - REMOVED SLUG LINE
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2015
SUBJECT: SLOVAKIA POLITICAL ROUNDUP AUGUST 1, 2005
REF: BRATISLAVA 532
Classified By: CDA Scott N. Thayer for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).
DOES SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE HAVE A PRAYER?
1. (SBU) Progressive political party Alliance of New
Citizens (ANO) has drafted a law which would change
Slovakia's current religious registration system (under which
registered churches receive state funding) to abolish state
funding and, in essence, make religious groups equal to
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in a move to begin
separating church and state. The law would allow Slovak
citizens to earmark up to 2.7 percent of their annual income
tax as a contribution to NGOs or religious groups, up from
the current 2 percent limit that citizens can donate to NGOs
only. While the reform would bring vast improvements to the
financing and operation of small religious groups, it does
not have the support yet of many conservative politicians;
Hungarian party SMK considers the law to be a simple liberal
campaign trick, and the Prime Minister's own Slovak
Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) has called it a "very
sensitive" proposal. We note, however, that regardless of
political will or public opinion, the proposal may face
purely financial challenges; the earmarked 2.7 percent tax
contribution may not provide the same level of financial
support to the institutions.
2. (C) During an August 1 lunch with ANO Vice Chair
Katarina Gloncakova-Golev, Poloffs were told that ANO does
not plan to abandon the religious funding law. While she
admitted that it could appear to be a campaign publicity
stunt, she insisted that ANO's support for this issue --
fueled by their disappointment with what the party sees as a
lack of transparency in the current financing system -- will
continue in the future.
SMER: "WE'RE THE JOHN KERRY TO DZURINDA'S GEORGE BUSH"
3. (C) Marek Madaric, the head of the social democratic
Smer party's press and media relations department, gave
Poloffs an overview of the party's current posture, future
plans, and outlook on U.S. foreign policy. Madaric told us
that on Iraq policy, Smer is the "John Kerry" to Prime
Minister Dzurinda's "George Bush." While the party respects
Slovakia's contributions to the Coalition and the ongoing
reconstruction effort, it remains against the war. Other
interlocutors tell us that Smer, which recently joined the
Europe-wide social democrat movement, is taking its foreign
policy marching orders from abroad. When asked what this
would mean if Smer head Robert Fico were elected Prime
Minister next year, Madaric said that not much would change;
he said that while Smer's occasionally anti-U.S., anti-war
rhetoric may get air time during the elections, the
statements are for campaign purposes only. Smer must make
such statements, he explained, to retain its credibility as
an opposition party. However, Smer and Fico will try to keep
the campaign -- and if they get their wish, the government --
focused on domestic issues first.
4. (C) Regarding possible partnerships for next year's
national and parliamentary elections, Madaric said Fico is
open to working with any party, though he pointed out that
the party of European Socialists does not allow them to work
with "extremist groups." (Comment: When asked if Smer was
thus precluded from working with the Slovak National Party
(SNS), Madaric backpedaled, noting that whether SNS was an
extremist group was still open for debate. End Comment.)
However, Madaric said that partnership with Dzurinda's SDKU
is least likely, as it is "a basic enemy" of Smer.
Partnership with Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS),
Slovak Hungarian Coalition (SMK), or KDH could also be
problematic, he explained, though cooperation with Alliance
of New Citizens (ANO), Free Forum (SF), or Movement for
Democracy (HZD) could be achieved without problem. (COMMENT:
We forbore pointing out Senator Kerry's fate in the last
election, which ironically somewhat mirror's Smer's.
Madaric's "we don't mean it" has worn thin, but Smer keeps
trying to convince us that walking and talking like a duck
doesn't make them one. We don't buy it, and we keep telling
them so. END COMMENT)
CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS CORRUPTION JUDGE'S CAR ACCIDENT
5. (SBU) Jan Hrubala, the former head of the government's
anti-corruption office who was recently appointed as a judge
in Slovakia's special court for corruption, was involved in a
car accident July 18 in the town of Ziar nad Hronom. In the
aftermath of the accident, Hrubala refused to submit to a
breathalyzer and/or blood test to determine whether or not he
had been under the influence of alcohol (Note: Slovakia has
a zero tolerance law for drinking and driving under which any
evidence of alcohol in the bloodstream is above the legal
limit. End Note). Minister of Justice Daniel Lipsic
announced that he would investigate the accident, and Hrubala
himself demanded that a full police inquiry be made in lieu
of a written reprimand. Some opposition politicians have
already expressed doubt that Hrubala should or will be
allowed to continue on in his capacity as a judge at the
special court, even though no criminal behavior has yet been
proved and Hrubala's track record on corruption issues is
long and distinguished.
6. (C) On July 27, we contacted Hrubala (a longtime contact
of the Embassy on matters of corruption) to express our
concern and inquire about his condition. Hrubala is currently
resting and recovering at his home in Banska Bystrica.
Having suffered a serious concussion in the car accident,
Hrubala does not remember the events leading up to the
accident, but he told us that he is now starting to have
small flashbacks of the crash. He told us quite openly of
his feelings of guilt and shame over the incident, and his
desire to see it come to a close. He denied that he had
consumed any alcohol before the accident, and cannot remember
refusing the breathalyzer in the moments following the wreck.
Hrubala said he did not understand some of the neurological
and medical reports he has received following the accident,
and felt isolated and lonely in the aftermath. Hrubala will
meet with neurologists at a Bratislava hospital the coming
weeks, and will also speak with a psychiatrist about some of
the lingering psychological problems he is experiencing. On
August 3, the Slovak media reported that Hrubala has been
charged in connection with the accident.
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