Dr Peter Kasalovský
Who is afraid and why?
Before entering the 26th year of our club's existence

Distinguished Assembly, The last day of this year's May will not go down as one of the good ones in the 25-year history of our club/association, especially because eight of our members have undergone planned or, in some cases, urgent surgeries. Five of our members have health problems. Nineteen of our members are abroad on business, including in China, Russia, the US, Hungary, Norway, Finland and Cyprus... - and two have already left for summer holidays. Fifteen members are attending to urgent professional duties. This means that more than a third of the hundred and forty-five regular members from Slovakia have apologised for their absence. We have 73 members attending, and two are on their way here. The question is, how many of our absent members, who are still, figuratively speaking, between heaven and earth, have been, for over a year and a half now, living undercover or have deliberately disappeared from the public eye?! The fact is that, at the request of several members, our meetings are closed to the public and with a minimum number of guests. Longer breaks during our meetings have also been requested. We were in a similar situation twenty-one years ago - in 1997, and then the same happened in 2011 and 2012 and, finally, between January and March 2017. What triggered these situations and what were their consequences?

Ladies and Gentlemen, On 2 August 1996, I was on my way back home from Prague to Bratislava after midnight. I was driving from a meeting with major shareholders of the Hospodárske noviny daily as I was the newspaper's editor-in-chief at the time. At one point, I spotted a rail across the road and a couple of unlit cars. I did not brake. Instead I pushed the gas pedal to the floor... I stopped at the nearest gas station where I met a businessman driving a sporty Mercedes. He assured me that he had not seen anything and advised me to take a break. On the following day, there were problems with my car's front axle and my car mechanic was confused.

On Monday, 5 August 1996, I 'impersonally' mentioned in the daily's editorial the horrors one could experience on the way from Prague to Bratislava. Early afternoon, a secret service agent paid a visit to me saying he wanted to help me. I thanked him politely for his interest and said that the incident had not happened to me. 7 972 days have passed since then, and my associates and their families still keep memories from the Meèiar period and then Dzurinda period of weird and rather dangerous situations on their business trips, as well as offers for media campaigns against particular individuals in politics and business. During Fico's governments, things were quite simple. After governmental policies were criticised by our association, we became unwanted, even in situations when we were doing things improving the image of our country and its citizens, and thus indirectly their representatives. This happened quite often, and despite my experience, I do not regret it. Politicians come and go, even though it sometimes takes rather long. There was never any dialogue, no exchange of views, and the secretariats of Prime Minister Fico and his successor Pellegrini did not and still do not respond to our proposals. The fact that we were quite clear at, and even after, this year's assembly in March that our country needs early parliamentary elections may have played a role in this. Another fact is that not all of our members agreed with this view.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Without exaggeration, we are standing in the way because we have an opinion which is actually supported by facts, arguments and most recent or still valid documents. During those twenty-five years, we found this to be true regardless of which government was in power. On more than one occasion, prominent Slovak figures, mostly crown billionaires, have asked me why we kept opposing everything and what the actual purpose of our association was. The purpose is to provide a different view, different stances from those of the government and the opposition and those in the media whose owners, spawned by privatisation, are intertwined and interconnected in a multitude of ways. Though unpleasant, it is also an honour to be tabooed. And then, we do not grovel to anyone and those who wanted us to do so were advised to peter out or leave.

Distinguished Assembly, We got used to the lack of decency and the arrogance of many government officials. And we were wrong to hope that they would disappear over time. We have once asked Mr Posluch, the late Prosecutor General, to explain to Dzurinda and the members of his cabinet what their duties towards the public, the media and associations like ours were. Cardinal J. Ch. Korec, who I used to meet with from 1988 until his last but one medical collapse, also helped us in relations with some of the god-like opposition 'players' and diplomats. However, the truth is that already back then there were honourable people among us who were afraid. They were worried that by expressing an opinion different from the official one they would put themselves, their political ambitions, social status and business at risk. They judged it right, and their silence literally meant gold. Gold as in privatisation opportunities, public procurement orders or positions affording commissions. Suddenly, as if we found ourselves in the final stage of the former regime when the children of Communist functionaries studied at elite universities to be then given attractive positions in the party and economy. Children and even grandchildren of Communist functionaries started finding and 'marrying' each other.

Fashion repeats itself, and the same is happening today. Is it an attempt to bring a renaissance of feudalism in the 21st century? But today's clans, unlike the ones in the past, only follow their own morals and operate without any barriers. They want positions, wealth and power, even if they have to sell their soul to the devil. Just like in the former regime, we cannot say that today, opportunities are given to those who are most capable. Those who get the opportunities are often... well I better do not go into the details. So many of them are treacherous people who would be willing to disown or, as was the case of our current president of the republic, give a 'makeover' to their parents just to step up the ladder. To be on 'top', viewed as part of the cream of society, is indeed infectious and it depletes not only memory but, tragically, also common sense. It is quite unfortunate and also incomprehensible to them that the old truth still stands: 'Honour and character cannot be bought'. They do not realise that honour and character are not a given and that this unique symbiosis needs to be nurtured. If just once it is not fed with what it needs to survive, it disappears irreversibly, and the individuals turn into creatures, even if they wear the most expensive clothes with the most expensive accessories and have the most expensive car or the odd little jet. And they can pretend to be the most human creatures of all when it is time to act, they fail and still get swollen with pride that there are none better than them. Perhaps, many of them did not have a children's room or had back luck for grandparents or parents. They may have worked their way 'up', but there is still a stink of falseness and deceit coming from their mouth. Over the twenty-five years of its existence, more than a thousand people from Slovakia and almost two hundred from abroad have been part of our club/association. So I have a problem. What to do with those who have lost their faces and do not mind losing even their trousers or skirts, what to do with those who have abused people's trust and kept stealing, even if with a stamp of legality; what to do with those who put others above their own nation and with those who have lost sound judgement for the sake of their position?! A Hamlet question it is.

Friends, People with common sense who need to work every day to provide for themselves are the majority in this country. And they must be pale with anger at the government coalition giving them breadcrumbs and realising now, 29 years after the change of regimes, that the masses should be finding their lives have improved. Suddenly, hundreds of millions and even billions of completely unknown origin are available. Had they been under concrete somewhere?! Or have they been created on paper by some bureaucratic magic? That is not impossible. A long time ago, under the former regime, negative GDP was turned into positive by changes in depreciation rules, so I know what I am talking about. Manipulation with pensions and the pension scheme has started all over again. Again, the word is that it is the state which provides pensions. Both the coalition and the opposition meditate over the ageing of the population and the soon-to-come shortage of people in productive age. These would-be experts claim that there will not be enough money for pensions. So much demagogy that even an authoritarian state would not need to be ashamed! Imagine technology replacing people in jobs - the imposition of a tax on the jobs... We do not need the 'revolutionary destruction of machines' from the times of early capitalism in England. It is enough that politicians are damaging people's mental health, for example by declaring that what we need is a coup d'état. In recent days, the 'media players' came to the conclusion that those who are the rotten apples needed to be destroyed. The public opinion is under attack from a line-up of experts with almost identical opinions coming from all electronic media (!). If we wanted to find a non-partisan expert in it, we would maybe find one. Although, we have noticed on one TV station that people need good news. There are some. Aren't we tired of the factories for political parties and individual media? And many, including some of our members, are becoming apathetic or even resigned, and just like in the old days, they are afraid. They fear for their lives and social 'securities', whatever they are, they are afraid of war, including nuclear, or another wave of migration into the unprepared Europe, called for by the German chancellor and several other EU leaders, but also EU officials and authorities. They are afraid of terror, devaluation of the currency and potential loss of savings, afraid of control over movement, minds, mail and communication in general. These fears are constructs of politicians and their bases and are disseminated by volunteers who have come to believe that they are better people - the übermensch. The wise words on our invitation written by novelist José de Sousa Saramango were meant to give our members a bit of encouragement, an idea inspired by one of my friends who also provided the proverbial addendum. Let me quote from the invitation.

Imagine a story about a country where people stop dying. After an outbreak of general enthusiasm, people gradually realise the unpleasant consequences. The Catholic Church is the first to realise that without death there is no resurrection. And that is a serious problem for believing. Life insurance companies and the funeral industry are going bankrupt. The government is facing problems with pensions, families with caring of an increasing number of their over-aged relatives. No one inherits anything. Organised crime takes matters into its own hands. Old people are trafficked to countries where death still exists. ....The government arrives at the conclusion that unless people start dying again, it is going to be the country's end. This story implicitly contains two interesting lessons. First, organised crime is quick to take advantage of any 'novelty', and second, as a rule, people are blindly enthusiastic about change at first , but once they realise what it all means, their enthusiasm fades away. And then they keep saying - 'this is not what we imagined'. So they look for someone to blame!

My friend Prof. Masarik, who is with us here today, sent an addendum to this message, which is a quote from the novel The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa: "For everything to stay the same, everything must change." This fits Slovakia pretty well.

Distinguished Assembly,
When we do find a pinch of good mood, thanks to people who are nice and do not tend to bow down, it does not last long. It is because official documents of governments and even documents prepared by secret services find their way to us, too, and tell us where the world and mankind, including us as a nation and individuals, is supposed to be heading. One of such documents from the early 70s of the last century, approved in the parliament and okayed by 50 freemasons out of the 56 who signed it, if I counted correctly, directly describes a planned route to world domination. Allegedly, this is how it has always worked, and it is accompanied by nervousness, unrest and then fear of every human. I am pleased that the members of this association were always elite individuals from the most diverse spheres of human activity. It is our moral obligation to continue what we have been doing over the past twenty-five years.

Bratislava, May 31, 2018