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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2000 / pressimfslovakia


Friends of the Earth Press Release, September 8th, 2000


NGO Angered by IMF's Stonewalling

Friends of the Earth Slovakia, (FoE-S) in the past six months, has experienced first hand the lack of transparency embedded in the operations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The denial of access to information and their apparent contradictions on policy undermines the IMF's credibility as a democratically accountable institution.

Since April 25 2000, FoE-S has been contacting the IMF's External Relations Department asking for information regarding the IMF's activities in Slovakia (and former Czechoslovakia) over the past ten years. Yet, to date, they have not received any of the requested documents from the institution.

While pursuing this matter with IMF officials at an IMF Seminar for NGOs in Vienna in mid-July, FoE-S was told that the requested documents were lost by the IMF, but that attempts to locate them would continue. During the seminar, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from Central and Eastern Europe also insisted that the IMF develop a policy on access to information that would be legally binding and enforceable. This became the most contentious issue of the seminar as IMF officials instead pushed for a voluntary system based on the IMF's good-will.

The IMF's good-will has been called into question, however, with its apparent contradictions when dealing with the request of FoE-S. During the nearly six months of communication regarding the requested documents, IMF officials have given contradictory information about which documents are publicly available and which are not. Despite the IMF's insistence that many of the documents are, in fact, available to the public, FoE-S has yet to receive any of them from the IMF.

In July, FoE-S received direct assurance from prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda that his office would provide all relevant IMF documents related to Slovakia in a complete form and indeed, a few documents were soon forwarded to FoE-S by the office of the prime minister. Upon further search, however, the Slovak government discovered that they, themselves, do not possess the requested documents in their files and moreover, that officials at the finance ministry wanted to review them all before release . On September 3, 2000, FoE-S was informed by the government that the IMF had stated to the finance ministry that some of the requested documents were considered confidential and, therefore, it seems that they will not be released as the ministry and government had agreed to do.


"During the past year the IMF has been making a lot of statements about its improved transparency and desire to reform, but the perspective from Slovakia is that the IMF is only taking cosmetic steps in an attempt to appease protesters who will be coming to Prague" said Juraj Zamkovsky, chairman of Friends of the Earth Slovakia.

For more information call:

Ryan Hunter
Center for Environmental Public Advocacy (CEPA)
Ponicka Huta 65
976 33 Poniky
Slovak Republic

Center for Environmental Public Advocacy (CEPA) is a civic association based in Ponicka Huta, Central Slovakia. It focusses on the societal and environmental consequences of economic development, the culture of decision-making, human rights protection and reform of the water management system in Slovakia. CEPA is one of the founding members of the Central and Eastern European Bankwatch Network which monitors the policies of international financial institutions (IFIs) in post-communist countries and fights for democratic participation of citizens in IFIs decision-making related to the region. Since 1997, CEPA has become a part of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, a global network of public interest lawyers. CEPA initiated the establishment of Friends of the Earth - Slovakia, an association of civic NGOs which was, in late 1997, adopted into Friends of the Earth International, a federation of NGOs active in 63 countries world wide.




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