Week in review: Law on NGOs

Week in review: Law on NGOs

1. Parliament was discussing the law on NGOs 2. People have taken to the streets again; they have protested against abolishment of RTVS 3. 20 years of Slovakia in the EU

Parliament has been debating the law on NGOs. The Slovak National Party proposes that organisations that receive over five thousand euros from abroad should be referred to in the register as organisations with foreign support.

NGOs fear that this will create a negative image of them in society. The proposal is also criticised by the opposition and the European Commission. European Commissioner Věra Jourová warned the Prime Minister Robert Fico that the law on NGOs contradicts EU legislation. Amnesty International Slovakia also voiced their disagreement.

Amnesty International Slovakia has also criticised the act on Slovak television and radio, that would effectively abolish and replace the public service broadcaster in Slovakia and the resubmission of the proposal to change the birth number act, saying it violates the rights of transgender people.

On Thursday evening, people took to the streets of Bratislava again. The opposition protest was organised by Progressive Slovakia party, other opposition parties did not join this time. The theme of the protest was the planned abolishment of RTVS and its replacement by a new institution but also protest against suggested changes to the second pension pillar. About 4,000 protesters gathered in the city centre.

Parliament has approved the removal two members of the Judicial Council (Ján Mazák and Andrej Majerník). The coalition MPs justify the appeal by loss of trust and doubts about the conscientious exercise of the powers of the members. One of the coalition parties suggested Štefan Harabin, the unsuccessful presidential candidate, to be a candidate for membership in the council. Opposition has protested against this because of his background.

Parliament has also begun to discuss the proposal for the election of candidates for the position of judge of the Constitutional Court. Parliament is to elect two candidates for constitutional judge and the President makes the final decision. The opposition criticized the late date of the election and the low number of candidates. They see the current situation and the procedures of the government coalition behind it.

At the beginning of the week, PM Robert Fico drew attention to the fundraiser for ammunition for Ukraine. In the meantime, over 4 million euros have been donated. But the PM downplayed its role and called it insignificant. The civic collection was a response to the decision of the Slovak government refusing to finance the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. The initiative has received recognition from Ukraine as well as other countries.

The law on changes in the Arts Council divides the coalition parties. After they managed to agree on a budget increase, the SNS and the Voice-SD parties cannot agree on the competences of the expert commissions. They have therefore postponed the vote again.

On the other hand, a proposed amendment to the education act that should regulate sex education at schools divides the opposition parties. Two opposition MPs are trying to open this topic anew, they have already done so in the past. Some MPs think that the current law is sufficient and that the conservative MPs are opening the discussion on the topic unnecessarily. According to the proposal, parents should have to know about sexual education session at schools in advance and should have right to refuse their child’s attendance.

On Wednesday, state authorities celebrated 20 years of Slovakia membership in the European Union. Slovakia entered the grouping along with 9 other countries in 2004. It was the most extensive enlargement in the EU history.

On this occasion, President Zuzana Čaputová honoured 28 personalities who directly contributed to the accession process or supported the integration efforts of the Slovak Republic. Prime minister Robert Fico has awarded 3 state orders on the occasion.

Slovaks continue to support the membership in the European Union and NATO, their trust in the government is growing and their perception of Russia as a threat is on decline. Slovaks also believe disinformation spread by domestic and foreign actors. These are the results of the annual GLOBSEC Trends report.

Progressive Slovakia party pointed out that Ľuboš Blaha, a coalition MP for Smer-SD gave a propaganda interview to the Russian state television RT, calling it scandalous and insulting to allies of Slovakia. He admittedly accused NATO of inciting the war. Blaha refused he insulted Slovak allies and added that he thinks they are making huge mistakes by further escalating the conflict with Russia.

Since the beginning of the year, Slovakia has reported an increase in illegal migration from Ukraine by 82 percent. This was reported by Tibor Gašpar, chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Security. According to him, this is a reaction to the recently adopted amendment to the Mobilization Act by Kyiv.

Bank scammers have tried to extort about 12 million euros from people, preliminary data of the Slovak Bank Association for the first half of last year has showed. Banks warn against the most common ways of scamming, among them phishing.

Do you have a suggestion? Contact me at martin.bednarik@rtvs.sk or hit us on social media.

Martin Bednárik

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