Slovaks were against the bailout of Greece

I was interviewed by the Slovenian daily Žurnal24. The topic was Slovakia and the bailout of Greece. You can find here the full interview in English. Here is also the link on the version in Slovenian language. It is a bit shorter.

1. How do people in Slovakia feel about the government standing up to EU pressure? Does majority of the people support it? Was the decision in the public received with sense of national pride or with other feelings? How do people feel about/view the new prime minister?

According to one poll from July 37 percent of Slovaks were absolutely against the loan to Greece, 18,8 % were more or less against, 25,9 % strongly agreed, 14,7 % somehow agreed. I really do think the majority of people is satisfied with the fact the Slovak lawmakers said no to the loan. I wouldn’t say it is about the national pride. Basically nobody is saying: look at us we are so brave, we were ready to oppose Brussels, Berlin or Paris.  I think Slovaks just feel it is not right to give some money to Greece and they expected from the government to follow this path.

The most bizarre part of the story is the position of the opposition. Just few months ago then PM Robert Fico from the social-democratic party Smer repeated how crucial is for Slovakia to support the loan. Smer has won election in July but wasn’t  able to find the coalition partners to govern. Fico still has criticized new government for the position not to support the loan. But at the end lawmakers of Smer DID NOT vote for the loan. Fico has used some lame excuses such he wanted to wait for the report about the financial situation of Greece and so on. I am pretty sure he was afraid he can lose some support between the voters.

2. What repercussions are expected for the government decision, is/was there a debate about that in Slovakia when making the decision?

Slovak officials have played down the risk of possible punishment. The debate is basically like this: Government is/was saying nothing serious will happen, we will discuss it with our partners, opposition is/was saying something terrible will happen. I would say ordinary people do not care very much about this.

3. What is the situation in Slovakia, are there severe austerity measures being taken because of the crisis? Did the decision to refuse participation in Greek bail-out strengthen the governments position to make cuts in public and other sectors?

With the new center-right government Slovaks expect some austerity measures and the government is using the “Greece argument” to explain we have to start reforms. And the fact is the previous government was spending like crazy.

Between 2002-2006 Slovakia has a strong pro-reform government but this government was not able to sell the reforms to the people. So, I think this time, and these are more or less the same politicians in government as during the period of 2002-2006, they are really happy they can based the current program of reforms also on the bad example of Greece.

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