SMK blamed for anti-Hungarian graffiti
The leader of the Slovak national Party, Anna Malíková, has blamed politicians from the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) for a rash of anti-Hungarian graffiti which has appeared across Slovakia.
A statue of the Magyar poet Sandor Petofi and a Hungarian school in Bratislava were among the first targets. The vandalism later spread to Košice, where the Hungarian consulate, a theatre, a bookshop, and another school were daubed with slogans. Posters with the words: "Hungarians go home" are reported to have appeared on walls in Bratislava.
The insulting graffiti comes at a time when Slovakia's Hungarian politicians have been in the news demanding that the reform of local government boundaries should include a single region incorporating most of the ethnic Hungarian population in the south of Slovakia.
Ms Malíková said the anti-Hungarian graffiti could be a smokescreen for the SMK. The party's demands were "very dangerous, and their expansionism threatens Slovakia's state interests," she commented. The allegation was denied by the SMK deputy leader, Arpád Duka-Zolyomi, who said the idea was absolutely alien to his party.
FDI reaches a high
Slovakia achieved its highest ever foreign direct investment (FDI) in the year 2000, with a total of Sk95.9bn (roughly USD 2m) The figures were welcomed by Premier Mikuláš Dzurinda, who pointed out that this represented more than USD 500 per head of population. It should be noted, however, that the privatisation of Slovak Telecoms (ST) made up Sk41bn (roughly USD 830,000) of the total. Other major investments included the sale of the Eastern Slovak Ironworks (VSŽ) in Košice to US Steel, and the sale of a 36.2 per cent stake in the Slovnaft oil refinery in Bratislava to the Hungarian company Mol.
First-round EU integration a must?
President Rudolf Schuster has publicly expressed his fears of a tough "Schengen" border being established between the Czech Republic and Slovakia if the countries do not join the EU at the same time. The President was speaking after a meeting with the Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, in Bratislava on Thursday 22 March. "It would be a big mistake to build that kind of border between us after so many years of coexistence in one state," Schuster commented. "The people would not understand it."
Meanwhile the EU has found an unlikely new fan in the form of the leader of the Smer party, Róbert Fico. Speaking in Banská Bystrica on Tuesday 20 March, Fico said Membership of the Union must be an absolute priority for Slovakia. He said he was convinced that the country must not fall behind in the way that it did in its attempt to join NATO, and called for Slovakia to join the EU at the same time as the Czech Republic.
Fico said that whatever happened after the next elections the new government should build on what has been achieved so far with regard to EU entry. Fico's brand of populist politics and his occasional use of racist rhetoric has been criticised by observers in the past as posing a potential threat to Slovakia's chances of joining the EU.
And in other news...
- The Japanese electronics company, Matsushita, is to invest EUR23m (roughly USD 21m) in Slovakia between 2001 and 2003. The company hopes to create between 900 and 1200 jobs in the Spišska Nová Ves district making Pansonic video recorders, audio mini systems, and DVD machines. The Government signed an agreement with Matsushita on Wednesday 21 March which will bring much-needed jobs to this unemployment hot spot.
- Slovakia and Poland are to form a joint military unit to take part in peacekeeping operations. The announcement followed a meeting between the Defence Minister, Jozef Stank, and his Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Komorowski, in Warsaw on Thurdsay 22 March. The unit will be compatible with NATO standards and the move is partly aimed at helping Slovakia in its bid to join the alliance. A poll by the Polis Slovakia agency this week suggested that 50.9 per cent of Slovaks now support the idea of NATO membership. Thirty-five per cent are said to be opposed.
- The wedding of two Wild West fans in Stupava, western Slovakia, went off with a bang when the bride was shot in the foot. The couple had just plighted their troth at the town mayor's office when three men in full cowboy outfits regaled the happy couple with a celebratory fusillade from their pistols. Sadly, one of the bullets lodged in the bride's ankle. She spent the first few hours of married life undergoing surgery. The incident was reported on Markíza TV.
Robin Sheeran, 23 March 2001
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