The first Slovak caretaker government and its priorities

After interim PM Eduard Heger’s resignation early this month, the first Slovak caretaker government was appointed on May 15th. The National Bank of Slovakia’s former Deputy Governor Ľudovít Ódor has been indicated as the new PM and will have to face major political challenges and lead the country to the elections in September. The government promised “calm and professionalism”; our ambition, the PM stated in a press conference, is to bring stability, tolerance, and a civilized discussion in the country. Outgoing PM Heger amicably presented his successor with a packet of magnesium: considering the current political crisis in the country, Mr. Ódor will certainly need some. The new executive counts sixteen ministers. NBS chief economist Michal Horváth is the new Finance Minister, while the Foreign Affairs Ministry is taken over by former Ambassador to Denmark and the UK, Miroslav Wlachovský.

Former Public Defender of Rights Jana Dubovcová is now Justice Minister, while ex-Defence Minister Ivan Šimko heads the Interior Ministry. State Secretary for Economy Peter Dovhun overtakes the Ministry of the Economy, and Martin Sklenár (ex-DG for Defense Policy) is the new Defence Minister. The Slovak caretaker government highlighted many emergencies, which include long-term goals – such as preventing the brain drain – and short-term goals. The executive will have to prepare the next year’s budget. A pro-European, pro-NATO, and pro-Ukraine foreign policy will be confirmed under this government. Ódor presented three principles to guide his action: calm, cultivated discussion, and expertise. The vice-PM responsible for the Recovery Plan Lívia Vašáková wants the EU money to be used in the most efficient possible way, while Šimko intends to provide stability for law enforcement.

The new Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Jozef Bíreš plans to deal with the soaring foodstuffs prices, while Dubovcová wishes to complete the judiciary reform. Concerning the government heavyweights (foreign, defence, economy, and finance), the challenges are ambitious. Foreign Wlachovský confirmed the Slovak foreign policy will be values-based, emphasizing the promotion of Slovak interests in the world. The government will continue supporting Ukraine – as he recently told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in a phone call. While relations with Poland are increasingly strong, those with Hungary are problematic, Wlachovský pointed out. Defence Minister Sklenár too reiterated his support for Ukraine and he wants to strengthen the cooperation with the EU, NATO, and the Austerlitz format on the subject.

Sklenár also stressed his priorities will include procuring US-made Viper helicopters, firearms, and air-defence systems. As businesses and people face high energy costs, Economy Minister Dovhun plans to implement a series of measures to cushion the energy crisis’ impact. Among Economy Ministry’s top priorities are the defusing of public uncertainty regarding energy prices, setting out a balanced approach to decarbonisation commitments, and the reduction of energy dependence on Russia. Finally, Finance Minister Horváth points out that Slovakia is too much indebted. As inflation is likely be a burden on public finances, the country also needs a serious debate on the condition of its public finances. On May 30th, the Slovak caretaker government will start holding meetings with all political parties to seek parliamentary support.

Amedeo Gasparini

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Pubblicato da Amedeo Gasparini

Amedeo Gasparini, class 1997, freelance journalist, managing “Blackstar”, MA in “International Relations” (Univerzita Karlova, Prague – Czech Republic); BSc in “Science of Communication” (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Lugano – Switzerland)