Former Slovak SIS agents charged with sabotage of Czech EU hopes

On Monday, the Slovak Interior Ministry announced that the former Slovak Intelligence Service, under the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar, planned to sabotage its neighbours' aspirations to NATO and EU membership. More from Dita Asiedu:

Some of you might recall when EU accession talks began, and when Slovakia was demoted from the group of front-runner candidates due to concerns over democracy. Now it seems that the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar adopted the policy of 'if we don't get in, no-one else will'. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic became prime targets in a botched attempt to discredit Slovakia's neighbours in the eyes of the West, and hinder EU and NATO expansion. But the number of planned victims was soon reduced to just one: the Czech Republic.

The Slovak Interior Ministry is now ready to launch criminal proceedings against the agents involved. It says the Slovak Intelligence Service--the SIS--set up a special department in 1995 to prepare and carry out operations solely with the goal of stirring up negative publicity for the candidate countries who were preparing for NATO and EU membership. The ministry says that the special department created blueprints for 15 operations. Although details of the acts of sabotage have not been released for security reasons, they are believed to have taken place in 1997 and 1998 just before the Czech Republic achieved NATO membership. The plan was to discredit the Czech Republic in the area of racial tolerance and human rights.

So far, three former Slovak secret service agents as well as the then deputy head of the SIS, Rudolf Ziak, have been charged with plotting to spoil Slovakia's relations with its neighbours and attempting to spread hostility in the West. The Slovak parliament has also been asked for its approval to press charges against MP Ivan Lexa, the then head of the SIS and a close colleague of Mr Meciar. Mr Lexa was apparently the mastermind behind the plan, although he is believed to have fled Slovakia. Mr Lexa is also wanted for other crimes committed during the Meciar era, including the kidnapping of the son of the former Slovak President Michal Kovac, Mr Meciar's arch-rival.