How a murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancée made me enter the European politics
Tomorrow, we will commemorate the first anniversary of the murder of an investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. It is still hard to explain how much this tragedy touched me as a member of the same generation as Jan and Martina.
For the last year, I have been thinking a lot, probably as many of you, about the mistakes we have made as a society, and about my own personal share of responsibility. I realized that once again, there is a lot at stake. In the same way as it was in 1992 and 1998.
Once again, there’s a lot at stake
The shots cast at two innocent people hit not only them and their families. It also hit our country, struggling once again for its life (a free, democratic and a fair one). It is our duty, as representatives of the generation of Jan and Martina, to save our country. Only then can we as one society find some meaning in the meaningless death of two young people – our peers.
Our country has once again found itself on the edge of good and evil, and needs to change its course. The old political structures, tied up with corruption and nepotism, drag us towards oligarchy and autocracy, towards the east. I believe in the power of youth who can redirect Slovakia back to its path, a different one to the one chosen by Hungary and Poland. I also believe in the message of Jan and Martina, who spent their lives making our country a better place to live. And I also believe that a fairer, more prosperous and safer Slovakia can only exist in a united Europe.
Therefore, as in 1998 and 2004, the time has come to decide where we want to belong. What kind of country did Jan and Martina want to live in and what kind of society were they striving for? Although as a society we have made many right decisions in the past, we have not reached the goal of a just and modern country yet. The situation from one year ago has gone too far and the only reasonable response can be cutting off the old structures from the power cords and strengthening of Slovakia’s position in Europe. Only by taking this path can we repay our debt to two young people whom we have not been able to sufficiently protect against the powerful ones in our state.
We have to get out of our comfort zone and step up our game
Although I have been working for several years in the European institutions, I was in Bratislava at one of my regular visits at home when all this happened a year ago. Since then, I have been asking myself what I should do to make sure it never happens again. The feeling stayed even months later. To an extent that as a long-term EU official I have made a rather unforeseen step – I have decided to run in the upcoming European elections. Many friends supported me in my decision to offer a new style of political representation to the Slovak citizens, who deserve it at all levels of our country’s governance. I am running as a representative of the new generation, along with many other changemakers, who believe in the European project and for whom democracy, justice, innovations or security are not just empty words.
I understand why Slovaks are so frustrated with the arrogance of power, the inefficiency, injustice, poverty, collapsing education and healthcare, and derailing of Slovakia from Europe. Jan fought against all of this in his articles, pointing to the corrupt power moguls, who privatized our country through politics. His courage remains an inspiration to all of us who care. As a new generation, his peers, we must complete the work that he left unfinished and make our country a better place. We have to step out of our comfort zone and work on the future ahead of all of us.
“I would like to believe that our future will be taken care of, that people having the final word will talk about change that brings about real solutions and the time will prove it right. That we will not do a mistake of our lives, we will not have to live with it for the rest of our lives nor to explain it to our children. That we will make the right decision,“ Jan wrote a couple of years ago about the purpose of elections in his blogpost. (30.01.2012; “What can I see in the mirror“,https://kuciak.blog.sme.sk/c/287853/Co-vidim-v-zrkadle.html)
That is why I want to speak out loud and promote what I have been working on for a number of years, what I believe in and what I am convinced of as a good future for our country. And that is the fact that Slovakia, in the interest of all of us, must stay on a European path. On a path of modernisation towards a state that is transparent, serving its people, enabling jobs creation, helping those in need, educating its precious talent, is competitive, ecological and capable of attracting back home successful Slovaks and foreign investors.
Believe in facts, not anti-European populism
In all this chaos, we have be honest about the people that can turn this vision into reality. Otherwise we can be easily deceived by populists. By those ones who see Slovakia in the east, who lie about the EU and undermine our partnership with it. By those who have destroyed a pro-European government and thus bear the share of their own responsibility for the fact that the Prosecutor General is not Jozef Čentéš, but Jaroslav Čižnár, that we Robert Fico is still on the stage, that the return of Mečiar´s favourite Štefan Harabin is slowly becoming a reality, that the autocratic MP Blaha diverts our foreign policy direction, that we have a dysfunctional Constitutional Court and a Speaker of the Parliament having meetings with Russians on the EU sanction lists.
Only a new generation of politicians, men and women, free of the burden of the past, links to the old structures and deals with the evil, can transform these solutions into action. I see such leaders joining me on the candidate list of the coalition of Progressive Slovakia and Together – Civic Democracy. I am not doing this because I would need to leave Slovakia at the end of my career as many of our MEPs do. I’m doing it because my last year was filled with sadness over the murder of Jan and Martina. This sadness will not be mitigated by any number of commemorative events that we organize in Bratislava, around Slovakia, in Prague or with my friends in Brussels. Frustration and anger only make sense if they provoke us to act for change. We cannot abandon this cause just because it’s uncomfortable or because that is what the perpetrators of the murder of two innocent young people wish to see. I want Slovakia to be a better country for all its inhabitants, for grandparents, for parents, for our peers and for next generations that will come after us.
I want a Slovakia that Jan also dreamt of. “First of all I want to live in a better country. I want us to share values that we grow up with as kids and that gradually evaporate with age and experience. I want love between people, mutual trust, I want active society without selfishness and full of solidarity for entrepreneurs, self-employed, presidents, road workers and customs officers. I want people to understand that this is precisely what we are searching for in ourselves when we are standing on city squares.“ (30.01.2012; blog of J. Kuciak “What can I see in the mirror“, https://kuciak.blog.sme.sk/c/287853/Co-vidim-v-zrkadle.html)
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