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Political news roundup

December 1 - Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič meets with European Union Special Representative and High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Paddy Ashdown, in Sarajevo. The officials agree that BiH has made great progress in meeting the international community's conditions but also that the country needs to make constitutional changes in order to build new institutions.

December 1- Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič meets with European Union Special Representative and High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Paddy Ashdown, in Sarajevo. The officials agree that BiH has made great progress in meeting the international community's conditions but also that the country needs to make constitutional changes in order to build new institutions.

December 2- Visegrad Four prime ministers meet with British PM Tony Blair over the EU budget proposal. The upcoming EU summit at which heads of states of 25 EU members should agree on the next budget for the period from 2007 to 2013 is to take place on December 15-16.

December 2- The Slovak Defence Ministry announces that BAE Systems will supply a mobile communication system to the Slovak army. BAE Systems won over a bid by Thales Communication in the final, fourth round of an international tender worth an estimated Sk7 billion (€182 million).

December 2- Interior Minister Vladimír Palko meets with EuroCOP President Heinz Kiefer, who criticized the Slovak minister for demoting the Slovak police trade union leader after a protest rally by police officers.

December 5- A Schengen border between Slovakia and Ukraine is to be established by the end of 2006, says Slovak Interior Minister Vladimír Palko during a visit to the Slovak-Ukrainian border. Slovakia will draw €4 million from the Schengen Transition Fund to finance the Schengen border works. Until now €4.7 million has been used for purchasing materials and technical and personal equipment for the border police.

December 6- President Ivan Gašparovič decorates Slovak Army Captain Michal Forgach with a military medal for bravery. Captain Forgach averted an attack by Iraqi insurgents on a US convoy in March this year. The US has already presented the officer with a medal for exceptional acts of bravery.

December 7- Slovak MPs approve a draft revision to the law on budgetary rules for the general government. The revision amends the rules for drawing EU funds and enables the drawing of European Community funds for intervention purchases by the Agricultural Paying Agency.

December 7- Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič receives Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in an official visit. The officials discuss the potential widening of bilateral trade cooperation and investment possibilities for Slovak businesses.

December 8- Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao defends his country, stating that it honours human rights, after Slovak Speaker of Parliament Pavol Hrušovský touches on the issue at a meeting with the Chinese PM. Jiabao says the Chinese government as well as parliament pledges respect for human rights in the country's constitution.

December 10- Activists from the Slovak arm of Amnesty International (AI) protest in Bratislava against torture in US secret prisons and the Guantanamo Bay prison. They wear black bags on their heads and hold letters forming the slogan "Stop Torture." The event takes place in front of the US Embassy to Slovakia on Hviezdoslavovo Square in Bratislava on Human Rights Day.

December 10- A mere 11 percent of the population participates in the run-off to the regional elections in which eight heads of the higher territorial units (VÚCs) are elected. Candidates affiliated with the opposition Smer and Movement for a Democratic Slovakia parties take five and three of the VÚC chairperson seats, respectively.

December 14- The Slovak government approves the appointment of Dana Dorotea Mikulová as new Deputy Education Minister.

December 14- The government appoints Ivan Štefanec, the current secretary of the government committee for the renewal of the High Tatras, as the cabinet's coordinator for the introduction of the euro into Slovakia. He will take up the post on January 1, 2006.

December 16- Movement for a Democratic Slovakia deputy chairman Milan Urbáni says that his party wants to win next year's parliamentary elections.

December 20- Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič signs the law on the 2006 state budget for Slovakia. Next year's budget revenues should reach Sk272.7 billion (€7.09 billion) and expenditures should be Sk330.2 billion (€8.58 billion) The budget deficit will thus be Sk57.5 billion (€1.49 billion) and 2.9 percent of the GDP, according to ESA 95 methodology, excluding pension reform costs.

December 21- Slovak Defence Minister Juraj Liška visits the southern Serbian province of Kosovo where 100 Slovak peacekeepers are currently serving.

December 21- Opposition Smer party signs a cooperation agreement with the Trade Unions Confederation (KOZ). Union chairman Ivan Saktor stated that the agreement does not mention the possibility of KOZ members running on Smer's candidate list in next year's parliamentary elections.

December 22- Slovakia cancels compulsory military service after 85 years. The last 214 conscripts leave. As of today Slovakia is to operate with a wholly professional army.

December 27- The National Register of Emission Quotas of the Slovak Republic launches into full operation for trading with quotas of greenhouse gases. The register is administered by Dexia banka.

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