Anti-uranium words and pro-uranium deeds of minister Žiga (video)

11/01/2014 20:43
On 10 January 2014 minister of environment Peter Žiga published a decision by which he agreed with prolongation of the licence for geological exploration of uranium ores in the Košice recreational area named Jahodná - despite vehement opposition of the general public and disagreement of all the affected communities except Košická Belá. On the day before - 9 January 2014 - the minister summoned a meeting with the mayors and representatives of the affected communities taking place in the building of the Košice City Office where he announced them that he would prolong the exploration since they "hadn't argued him well enough" why he shouldn't do it. As a "compensation" for this the minister suggested to the mayors that he would sign with them a memorandum by which they shall "fight the mining together".
Besides citizens and mayors of the affected communities we (i.e. ZO SZOPK Košice 2013) have also made an appeal to the minister - in our 2nd Open Letter ( ) sent on 1 January 2014 we have provided him with documents proving that the exploration is being carried out only because of future mining and that the threat of reclaiming a financial compensation made by the Ludovika Energy uranium company is nothing more than dedicated intimidation. Unfortunately it didn't help.
On the day of the minister's meeting with the communities' representatives we wanted to meet the minister, too - but we were not allowed into the room, moreover, we were not even allowed to be present at the subsequent press conference. After the press conference was over, the minister first ran away from us by a back door, however, after some 10 minutes (and after TV journalists and cameras disappeared) he changed his mind and answered some of our questions at the corridor. You can judge the credibility and sincerity of his answers after watching the video (in Slovak) or reading the English transcription of the dialogue below...
English transcription of the dialogue:
L. Rovinský: Downstairs in the entrance hall I had asked you whether you were going to announce your decision to the representatives of the affected communities or to negotiate with them. You had said "I'm going to discuss with them how to proceed in the matter", however, as far as I know, it was no discussion, you simply announced them that tomorrow the decision (prolonging the geological exploration licence) will be published and that the protests made by the affected communities have no legal value for you.
P. Žiga: They didn't argue me well enough the reason why I should stop the exploration.
L. Rovinský: We were present at one negotiation where... I mean, how could they? If the exploration is in contradiction, the law says, if it is in contradiction with the economical and social development programme of the community, for example in Myslava...
P. Žiga: Mr Rovinský, it is not an easy decision for me...
L. Rovinský: I understand you that it's not easy.
P. Žiga: ...and the decision, I have inherited the problem. The problem is here since 2005, the geological exploration was allowed in 2005...
L. Rovinský: Yes, but you're the one who decides about its prolongation.
P. Žiga: ...and we have prolonged it until 19 April 2015. Besides, I have suggested to the affected communities that we shall sign a memorandum by which we shall act against mining together. That is my fair proposal on the table, we want to prevent the mining. You, too, want to prevent the mining, don't you?
L. Rovinský: The exploration leads to mining beyond any doubt.
P. Žiga: I understand that but I have to behave responsibly, Mr Rovinský. And I have to behave responsibly in the sense that I can't put the country into a danger that it will lose money in an international arbitration...
L. Rovinský: What possible reason there could be to lose money in an international arbitration?
P. Žiga: Because the company is threatening that it will sue the country at an international arbitration...
L. Rovinský: You know, if I told you that I would sue you and I would ask a million...
P. Žiga: Yes, but I have to behave responsibly and the threat is here.
L. Rovinský: But the threat, what is it backed by?
P. Žiga: By the fact that they have spent 20 million euro...
L. Rovinský: OK, they have spent, but there's no law saying that if someone spent money they can ask the money back.
P. Žiga: I'm telling you once again, I'm against uranium mining, just like you, I'm against the mining, too. I want to offer to the affected communities and citizens - let's go fighting against the mining together. That's all.
L. Rovinský: To me it seems that the form of a memorandum...
P. Žiga: You have it written here "No to uranium mining and processing". We are on the same side of a ship.
L. Rovinský: But today you have made a "Yes to uranium mining and processing" decision.
P. Žiga: Yes, with a heavy heart I have made the decision. But responsibly.
J. Križan: Minister, I'd like to ask you one question, can I?
P. Žiga: Yes you can.
J. Križan: Are you aware of any document, a written document, signed by the government, either via a minister, deputy prime minister or anybody else, with exploration companies stating that if this decision prolonging the exploration until 2015 is cancelled, the Slovak republic will pay to the companies doing the exploration a compensation of 20 million euro?
P. Žiga: I'm not aware. Why should I... I don't think there's any such document.
J. Križan: Surely it doesn't exist? There isn't any.
L. Rovinský: But then what are your fears based on...
P. Žiga: Based on the fact that...
J. Križan: There's no reason to be afraid of what you're afraid.
P. Žiga: But there is because...
L. Rovinský: Apparently somebody has made such an analysis for you so the analysis...
P. Žiga: Yes, lawyers made an analysis for me.
L. Rovinský: It would be interesting to see the analysis. And which lawyers have made it?
P. Žiga: Ministry lawyers.
L. Rovinský: And how the analysis looks like?
P. Žiga: It...
L. Rovinský: Is it secret? So we will request it in accordance with the law no. 211 (the law on information freedom).
P. Žiga: Request it.
J. Križan: You know, if the government has signed no such document then actually...
P. Žiga: Yes... Once again...
J. Križan: ...the arbitration will be difficult for them, difficult for the exploration companies, not for the Slovak republic.
L. Rovinský: And I'm asking you, minister, I'm asking you now, if today - now I'm going home - I write an information request recalling this dialogue of ours then today you have promised me that you will provide me the analysis of your lawyers?
P. Žiga: If...
L. Rovinský: Or did you mean it so that request it and...
P. Žiga: Request it.
L. Rovinský: But will you provide it to me...
P. Žiga: Request it.
L. Rovinský: It isn't secret, the document?
P. Žiga: Request the document.
L. Rovinský: So the commitment... You say that you will sign a memorandum with the affected communities but you can't promise me that you will provide me the document... provide us the document, that you will make it public? Because I don't need it for me myself to put it in a drawer, so will you make the document public?
P. Žiga: Request it. Request the document, Mr Rovinský.
L. Rovinský: Thank you. And a final question: did you, minister, give an instruction that we shouldn't be allowed into the room...
P. Žiga: Yes.
L. Rovinský: ...where the press conference took place? I didn't mean, because downstairs, you had said that we were not allowed to be present at the discussion with the communities representatives...
P. Žiga: At the discussion.
L. Rovinský: ...but after that we wanted, we waited for the press conference and we weren't allowed in. So I'm asking you if it was because of your (minister Žiga's) or your (ministry spokesman Stano's) instruction?
P. Žiga: No.
M. Stano: No.
P. Žiga: I don't know about that. Mr Rovinský, I'm glad that you are fighting against uranium mining, I will support you in that...
L. Rovinský: Thank you.
P. Žiga: ...but let's don't put emotions into pragmatic matters. I like when things are solved at a table, at a discussion table and when arguments are on the table and we are acting according to them.
M. Ondera: Tell your colleague Malatinský (minister of economy) that he should withdraw from his memorandum (of understanding with the uranium company).
P. Žiga: I can ask him to do that, we can even ask him together, but I...
L. Rovinský: Shall you ask him together?
P. Žiga: I am...
L. Rovinský: Shall we ask him together?
P. Žiga: I am ready to sign a memorandum against uranium mining with the affected communities.
J. Križan: But what force such a memorandum can have in comparison with the decision that you have sign... that you are going to sign tomorrow? None.
M. Stano: What force Malatinský's memorandum has?
P. Žiga: The same force as Malatinský's memorandum has.
L. Rovinský: But no, Malatinský's memorandum...
P. Žiga: Is what?
L. Rovinský: mentioned by Ludovika (the uranium company) in all of its appeals.
P. Žiga: In the same way we can mention our memorandum afterwards.
L. Rovinský: Hmm.
M. Ondera: Will you ask minister Malatinský to withdraw from his memorandum?
P. Žiga: Dear friend...
M. Ondera: Will you ask him?
P. Žiga: (left the room)
M. Ondera: You are not against uranium mining!
L. Rovinský: Thank you.