Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák steps down

Topical issue

Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák steps down

12. 03. 2018 14:57

Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák of the SMER-SD party resigned from his post. "One of the ways of fulfilling my mandate is to do all I can in order to maintain stability in Slovakia. Therefore, I have decided to resign from the posts of Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister," said Kaliňák at a press conference on Monday morning. His step came in reaction to developments after the murder of investigative Journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, which peaked last Friday, when tens of thousands of people gathered in Slovak streets. The crowds requested an investigation into the murder, the resignation of Kaliňák as well as that of Prime Minister Robert Fico. Kaliňák's end as Interior Minister came before the negotiations of the governing coalition about its future.

"We are glad that our voice was heard and that SMER was able to make a change in a post of this importance. It was necessary for calming the situation down," reads the statements of another coalition party, Most-Híd. However, the party's chair Béla Bugár did not want to say whether this was enough for the party to continue in the coalition. "The party's council decides, not the chair or the leaders of the party," said Bugár. "He should have left when it was enough," said František Šebej MP of the Most-Híd.

According to political analyst Grigorij Mesežnikov, it is impossible to say whether Kaliňák's end would be enough for Most-Híd to remain in the coalition. Another analyst Ján Baránek said that if the new management of the Interior Ministry also replaced the chair of the police corps, Tibor Gašpar, Most-Híd's requirements would be formally fulfilled. "However, the question remains, how will individuals such as Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská or František Šebej react," said Baránek.

Opposition parties Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Ordinary People do not consider Kaliňák's end to be sufficient. According to SaS, this step came with years of delay, the Interior Minister missed all his chances for a decent departure and the party requests early elections. Ordinary People considers Monday's event as only the first step towards purifying Slovak politics.

"Above all, regarding the departure of Robert Kaliňák, I perceive it to be a sign of his personal contribution to stability, maintaining democracy and possibility to continue in positive politics for people. Robert was one of the most talented ministers of all the governments which I have lead. I want to thank him for ten years of high quality work in each of his departments," said Prime Minister Robert Fico in reaction.

Since the general elections in March 2016, Kaliňák has faced several no confidence votes in parliament due to his business links with the alleged tax fraudster Ladislav Bašternák - also one of the topics about which the murdered Kuciak wrote. Robert Kaliňák is one of the founding members of the currently largest coalition party SMER-SD. He prematurely finished his third term in the post of interior minister. He served in this post between 2006 and 2010 for the first time, and then from 2012 until 2016 and continued after the general election in March 2016 until this Monday.

Mojmir Prochazka, Photo: TASR

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