Smer to cancel airport sale if gains power

THE OPPOSITION Smer party has vowed to cancel the results of the recent privatization sale of Slovakia's two largest airports, in Bratislava and Košice, provided it gains power following scheduled September 2006 elections.

Smer party chairman Robert Fico told a press conference January 4 that if it is in a position to do so following the ballot, "we will immediately and uncompromisingly cancel the privatization of the Bratislava airport, as long as the sale occurs under the terms prepared by the current right wing cabinet," the business daily Hospodárske noviny reported.

The privatization sale of 66-percent stakes in the Bratislava and Košice airports has not yet been completed, but the tender advisor, Austria's Meinl Bank, has already recommended to the cabinet that it give the nod to the TwoOne consortium, comprising Vienna airport, the Slovak financial group Penta Investments, and the Austrian Raiffeisen Zentralbank. Four bidders had been short-listed.

Fico alleged that the seeming front-runner could turn the fast developing Bratislava airport, which is only 50 kilometres from Vienna's Schwechat airport, into a "second-rate rural airport owned by the city of Vienna and the Lower Austria area".

The Smer boss labelled the Košice airport "an appendix" of the Bratislava airport.

Slovak Transport Ministry spokesman Tomáš Šarluška responded that Smer's statements were "peculiar to say the least".

Šarluška told the TASR news agency that Smer had been invited to participate on the tender commission for the airport sales, but that Smer MP Maroš Kondrót had given up his post.

Compiled by Martina Jurinová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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