Under the Spell of Corruption

V/I Weekly News Roundup

16 October 2019

Quincy Cloet

Managing Editor

Leaked recordings show evidence of corruption concerning public officials and politicians in Slovakia. Find below this and other news highlights from the week as well as stories that will be developing in the near future.

Slovakia under the spell of a corruption case: Slovak media has dug up new information concerning a rapidly expanding corruption scandal that, among others, involves the Slovak entrepreneur Marian Kočner and ex-general prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka. The public has learned about secret recordings, a number of questionable dealings with firms and attempts at buying MPs in the election of the prosecutor general. Among others, the national press revealed that Kočner recorded a discussion with Trnka, and made intentional claims on tape in order to threaten Trnka. President Zuzana Čaputová has spoken out firmly against these practices, which undermine impartial justice and the rule of law, and affirmed that Slovakia needs to put a stop to this.

Czech weapon exports: The Czech government has decided to suspend weapons exports to Turkey, which is currently engaged in a military offensive undertaken in northern Syria. The move follows earlier efforts by other EU member states and NATO partners to halt export licenses to what is for many a strategic and military ally. In the Czech case, several firms had licences to export arms, ammunition and land vehicles as well as technology for military aircraft. Trade and industry Minister Karel Havlíček confirmed there would be no exceptions. However, a couple of years ago there were recent stories about Czech military equipment that ended up in places with whom Czechia does not have an official agreement or fall under an embargo. For instance, there was a delivery to Azerbaijan of military equipment that was subsequently turned into offensive arms – which went against international recommendations. Moreover, Prime Minister Babiš previously has been in favour of supporting Ankara in the creation of a “safe zone” and recently has called for greater investments in the arms industry.

Regional brain drain: A recent economic update by the World Bank for Europe and Central Asia emphasises the challenges that confront Central Europe in terms of emigration and and brain drain. The institution notes that “extended periods of loss of scarce human capital, emigration of skilled labour represents a serious concern” and suggests improvements to governance and institutional capacity to address the root causes of persistent emigration. Among others, the World Bank mentions the promotion of the private sector and job creation, investments in higher education and increased opportunities for women in the economy, as examples of good practices to limit the effects of a long-term brain drain.

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Quincy Cloet

Managing Editor

Dr Quincy R. Cloet is Managing Editor of Visegrad Insight

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