Defence minister Lubomir Galko is continuing on his crusade to uncover and make public the shady contracts that were signed by the former heads of the ministry. His attacks are mostly directed at representatives of SMER-SD, specifically, Robert Fico, Robert Kalinak, Pavol Paska and Jaroslav Baska. They in turn are hitting back by saying that minister Galko is just trying to draw attention away from the fact that he appointed the director of the Military Intelligence Service without proper security screening.
The latest in the series concerns the purchase of six ZODIAC FC 470 inflatable dinghies for the army in 2008 without a public procurement procedure. This in itself is highly irregular, but minister Galko also says the purchase was highly overpriced and totally impractical, as the boats were purchased without engines, meaning they can’t really be used properly (like in cases of the recent floods). His predecessor in the ministerial post, Jaroslav Baska (Smer-SD) rejects the accusations that the purchase of the dinghies was unlawful.
SMER-SD party spokeswoman, Silvia Glendova issued a statement saying “Minister Galko by appointing the director of the Military Intelligence Service in an unprofessional manner threatened the security of the Slovak Republic and its trustworthiness in the eyes of our allies, while breaching the law and abusing his powers. All his attempts to detract attention from his own failing should be seen in this light.”
The Ministry of Defence has now filed for a criminal investigation into the latest affair, with accusations of mismanagement of public assets and abuse of public power. Minister Galko has called on the leaders of the SMER-SD party – Robert Fico, Robert Kalinak, Pavol Paska and Jaroslav Baska to present their stances to the dubious purchase. He says he wants to hear arguments, not insults directed at him personally. “I’d like to see Mr. Baska explain why he purchased the dinghies for over SKK 700,000 at the time, when he could have got them for EUR 390,000. Where is that money, where did it end up, and why didn’t he use the extra money to buy engines or buy fewer dinghies, but operational ones, which would have helped in the flooding?” retorted Galko.
Minister Galko then apologised on behalf of the ministry to all the people affected by the recent flooding, that the armed forces were not as effective as they could and should have been. He said he would like to see Fico, Kalinak, Paska and Baska visit the people of the flooded regions and explain to them why soldiers could not fully utilise the inflatable dinghies that the Ministry of Defence purchased in 2008.
Other contracts being investigated by Galko include the upgrading of almost obsolete helicopters and useless walkie-talkie devices, but as always is the case in a democracy, it is about proof, not truth.