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Cablegate: Slovakia Political Round Up October 6, 2006

VZCZCXRO2508
PP RUEHAST
DE RUEHSL #0817/01 2791448
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061448Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0353
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0014

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRATISLAVA 000817

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM EAID PREL ELAB KDEM PINR AF RO BU
LO
SUBJECT: SLOVAKIA POLITICAL ROUND UP OCTOBER 6, 2006

REF: A. BRATISLAVA 733

B. BRATISLAVA 754
C. BRATISLAVA 764
D. BRATISLAVA 719

BRATISLAVA 00000817 001.2 OF 002


NEW NATIONAL COORDINATOR FOR TIP NAMED
--------------------------------------

1. (SBU) The new National Coordinator to Combat Trafficking
in Persons will be Jozef Bucek, the new State Secretary at
the Ministry of Interior. This effectively raises the
political clout of the National Coordinator position by
several notches. Bucek, a Smer party member from Kosice,
does not have a background in TIP issues but reportedly will
start meeting with experts later this month. Several
experienced TIP stakeholders note that Bucek a has large task
to get back the lost momentum on TIP efforts that occurred
while the National Coordinator post sat vacant for two
months. (BIO NOTE: Bucek is a long-time Embassy contact with
a positive view of the U.S. He has two teenage daughters.
He has never been to the U.S. - the closest he has gotten is
Canada - mostly due to his extreme fear of flying. The DCM
will pay his courtesy call on Bucek next week. END NOTE.)

NITRA ATTACK - THE TRUTH MAY LIE IN THE MIDDLE
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (SBU) A contact with ties to the Ministry of the Interior
informed Emboff that the alleged skinhead attack on an
ethnic-Hungarian university student in Nitra in August might
have happened after all (refs A-C). The young woman may have
received a light beating but then tried to make her injuries
appear worse than they actually were because she believed
that a few punches were "not enough" to make her case to the
police, the source explained.

AFGHANIS IN SLOVAKIA
--------------------

3. (SBU) Poloffs met with Slovak human rights expert Zuzana
Fialova who worked in northeast Afghanistan for several years
on community development, education, and human rights issues,
first as part of a German PRT and then on an independent
contract. She received a grant from SlovakAid to bring three
diverse groups of Afghanis to Slovakia on study tours to
share Slovakia's experience with political and economic
transformation. Fialova pointed out that foreign experts can
lecture endlessly about democracy but there is nothing akin
to seeing with one's own eyes. Fialova added Afghanistan's
transformation will take many years and Americans should not
lose patience. (COMMENT. This is yet another example of the
way a small country like Slovakia is contributing to broader
goals of "transformational diplomacy." END COMMENT.)

HOW TO IMPROVE SLOVAK AID?
--------------------------

4. (SBU) Fialova was critical of the way SlovakAid sets
development priorities and issues grants. Currently the
small amount of aid Slovakia has to offer is spread too
thinly and does not bring enough positive publicity to the
country. "What good does it do to build one school in
Afghanistan? The Germans built 300 and the Slovak
contribution is invisible." She would like to see the MFA do
more strategic planning, focus on the strongest skills of its
NGOs (such as sharing Slovakia's transformation expertise and
developing civil society), and concentrate diplomatic efforts
and development aid in a few key countries. She criticized
the fact that Slovakia does not have an embassy in
Afghanistan, despite its military presence and assistance
program, which makes it much harder to coordinate the
military and development aid. (COMMENT. This situation also
complicated the donation of excess military equipment from
Slovakia to Afghanistan last year, which could only be
arranged with extraordinary U.S. efforts. END COMMENT.)

5. (SBU) Currently the MFA's SlovakAid office plans its
program budget, and the UNDP office in Slovakia and NPOA, a
Slovak NGO contracted by the MFA, administer the grants. On
September 28 the Cabinet approved the concept for Slovakia to
develop an aid agency. In his October 5 courtesy call with
new MFA State Secretary (Deputy Minister) Olga Algayerova
(who is responsible for SlovakAid and development issues
generally), the DCM offered U.S. expertise in managing
development assistance. Algayerova said she would greatly
welcome our suggestions. We will work to identify and match
decision-makers in Slovakia with U.S. experts who can
positively influence this project during the coming months.

SLOVAK LABOR MARKET TO OPEN TO ROMANIANS AND BULGARIANS

BRATISLAVA 00000817 002.2 OF 002


--------------------------------------------- ----------

6. (U) According to media reports, Slovakia intends to open
its labor market to Romanians and Bulgarians from the first
day of their entry into the EU. Slovaks felt as though they
were discriminated against in the labor market by members of
"old Europe" upon their EU accession and don't want to do the
same to the newcomers. At least one commentator predicts
little impact by the opening of the labor market because,
with a minimum wage of USD 253 (7600 SKK) per month, wages
are already quite low even for Slovaks.

HOW DRY IS THE MFA?
-------------------

7. (SBU) An official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
claims that one of FM Kubis's first acts upon taking the
reins of the ministry was to ban the practice of offering
alcohol to guests. Our contact had mixed feelings about the
new policy, on the one hand recognizing it as modern and
professional, but on the other hand regretting that a
traditional expression of Slovak hospitality has been
forsaken. Apparently, the Russian Ambassador now brings his
own bottle of vodka to the MFA and insists on being offered a
shot from it whenever he visits.

VALLEE

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