Praise from Prodi
The President of the European Commission (EC), Romano Prodi, has commended Slovakia's progress along the path to European Union (EU) membership. Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with Premier Mikuláš Dzurinda on Friday 2 March, Prodi described the results achieved by Slovakia as "remarkable."
Referring to the position of the Roma, the EC President emphasised the importance of the issue of national minorities, which he said was a sensitive area, not only in Slovakia but in young democratic countries in general. Prodi said he regarded 2004 as a realistic date for the entry of the first tranche of new EU member states. Dzurinda was on a two-day working visit to Brussels organised by the Union of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.
Trade unionists block border crossings
Trade unionists blocked five border crossings between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland on Friday 2 March in protest at high rates of unemployment and low wages. According to the Interior Ministry, between 180 and 450 people gathered at each of the crossings.
There was no violence during the blockades which ran for about four hours. Unemployment in Slovakia currently stands at roughly 17 per cent of the workforce.
HZDS rally fails to attract support
A rally called by the Opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) to protest at the passing of the amendment to the Constitution (reported in last week's News Review) failed to attract any participants.
The apparent public indifference at the result of the marathon parliamentary debate, which preceded the vote, is being read in some quarters as symptomatic of a lack of public engagement with party politics.
Elsewhere this week, membership of the HZDS, led by former Premier Vladimír Mečiar, was reported to have dropped to 40,000 from a peak of 75,000 members. The party remains the biggest in Slovakia, with the highest ratings in the opinion polls.
Ján Korec murder a contract killing
The murder of nuclear research chief Ján Korec (see last week's News Review) was a contract killing, according to Slovakia's Chief Investigator, Jaroslav Ivor. Mr Korec was shot dead at his home in Piešťany, western Slovakia, on Friday 23 February. He was managing director of the Nuclear Energy Research Institute in Trnava.
Jaroslav Ivor says a Trnava businessman, Julius P, paid SKK 500,000 (USD 10,609) to have Korec killed. The alleged motive was an unspecified argument over business. Julius P has refused to testify, but the killer, who was paid just SKK 100,000 (USD 2121), and two intermediaries are all reported to have confessed to the killing.
The chief of the Slovak police, Ján Pipta, said he could not confirm press reports that the murder could be connected to senior police officers or politicians.
Roma party accused on money-laundering
The leader of one of Slovakia's Roma political parties has denied allegations that an agency set up by an alliance of Roma parties could have been used to launder cash from Belarus. Ladislav Fizík of the Roma Intelligentsia for Co-existence denied the claims made by Deputy Premier for Human and Minority Rights Pál Csáky. Fizík said that the head of the new agency, Milan Scuka, had resigned so as not to be an obstacle to its activities.
Mr Scuka, who is involved in business in Belarus, says he will be demanding proof of the accusations, or a public apology from Pál Csáky. Ladislav Fizík speculated that Csáky, who is a member of the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK), was trying to undermine attempts to build solidarity among Slovakia's Roma community.
Fizík said the SMK was concerned that if Roma who previously declared themselves to be Hungarian declared their Roma origin in the forthcoming national census, the official Hungarian population of Slovakia could drop by up to 40 per cent.
And in other news...
- Gangs carrying clubs and baseball bats are reported to have terrorised customers at night-spots in Bratislava on Thursday 1 March. According to police reports, about 20 young men carrying baseball bats burst into three restaurants in the city. Later in the evening, eight men armed with wooden clubs ran into a cafe in the city centre and dragged two foreigners into the street before beating them. The police say the incidents were linked, and may have involved rival Mafia gangs.
- Criminal charges against former government minister and ex-boss of the Eastern Slovak Ironworks, Alexander Rezeš, have been dropped. Rezeš, who served in the previous government of Vladimír Mečiar, faced charges of property damage in relation to a listed 18th century mansion in the central Slovak town of Banská Stiavnica, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Robin Sheeran, 5 March 2001
- Archive of Slovak news reviews
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Slovakia and the Czech Republic through CER
- Return to CER front page
TASR (Slovak Press Agency)
SITA (Slovak News Agency)
ČTK (Czech News Agency)