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Slovak Education Minister Peter Plavcan, of the coalition Slovak National Party (SNS), has announced this month that he will step down from his post after being asked to quit by the country‘s Prime Minister Robert Fico. “None of the ruling parties can gamble with public trust,“ Fico said at a press conference and asked the SNS chairman to present a proposal to replace the standing Education Minister as soon as possible.
The call to resign has come after a scandal involving the distribution of EU funds, that surfaced in July (see ACA Newsletter – July 2017 Edition). The Ministry of Education has reportedly selected several private companies with no history in research or innovation as recipients of the EU subsidies. The allocation of funds was first challenged by rectors from Slovak universities and the representatives of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) in their offcial letter of protest, beggining of July. In response, Minister Plavcan met with the rectors of the country’s most prominent universities and announced to launch an inspection into the deployed evaluation process. The subsidies were originally allocated for encouraging long-term strategic research and innovations, but the Slovak universities and SAV did not receive any money of nearly EUR 300 million in EU funds.
At a press conference on 17 August, Minister Plavcan denied any corruption linked to his party but said that “after careful consideration and much thought, I'm resigning from the post of the minister of education, science, research and sport because what was happening in recent days was absolutely over the line. I need to protect my family and the party.“
Slovak Ministry of Education – Press release (only in Slovak)