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Political news roundup

January 1 - Slovakia officially becomes a non-permanent member of the United Nation's Security Council for the next two years. The council decided that the Slovak Ambassador to the UN, Peter Burian, would be chairman of the UN Security Council committee dealing with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

January 1 - Slovakia officially becomes a non-permanent member of the United Nation's Security Council for the next two years. The council decided that the Slovak Ambassador to the UN, Peter Burian, would be chairman of the UN Security Council committee dealing with the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Slovakia will also be the vice-chair of three UN Security Council committees supervising the implementation of sanctions against Somalia, Sudan and Syria.

January 10- The Defence Ministry transfers excess real estate worth Sk1.5 billion (€40 million) to regional and local governments.

January 11 - The Slovak government recommends the ratification of the UN convention on corruption.

January 11 - The opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia party announces that it is gathering support from MPs for a no-confidence vote against Culture Minister František Tóth.

January 11 - The Anti-Corruption Office is investigating potential criminal offences involving the improper handling of state property relating to the alleged covert privatization of Slovak Airlines.

January 13 - Slovakia decides to provide Sk10 million (€267,000) in development aid to Ukraine. The money is to be used to help build and strengthen the country's democratic institutions.

January 16 - Artists and various other prominent figures from the Slovak cultural community who wrote an official letter demanding the resignation of Culture Minister František Tóth, insist that the minister must go. The minister, however, refuses to leave his post. In general, artists dislike the minister's political philosophy, according to which he is introducing the principles of market economics into the world of culture.

January 17 - Members of the European Parliament from the Visegrad Four countries - Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland - and Slovenia, start a campaign to open the labour market to all EU newcomers. They want to gain sufficient support from MEPs to get the topic on the agenda of the European Parliament plenary session by February 1.

January 18 - Slovakia is to donate 2,200 tonnes of military material to Afghanistan to help the country build its army, the country's Defence Minister Juraj Liška announces. The United States is to transport this material to Afghanistan. Slovakia made this commitment at a donor conference in Berlin in March 2003.

January 19 - The ruling parties agree at a Coalition Board meeting that no more privatization decisions should be made later than March 31 this year. After this date the government and the National Property Fund will make no privatization decision on any issue within their competence that did not gain final approval by March 31.

January 19 - A Ukraine-made Slovak military airplane crashes near the Hungarian village of Telkybánia, close to the Hungarian-Slovak border, claiming 42 lives. The plane was carrying Slovak soldiers returning from the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo as part of a regular rotation. Only one man, soldier Martin Farkaš, survived the tragedy.

The Slovak government announced a day of mourning for the victims of the fatal accident scheduled from noon Monday, January 23, to noon Tuesday, January 24.

January 20 - Due to the tragic airplane crash, opposition parties withdraw the discussion on halting the privatization of Bratislava and Košice airports from the parliamentary agenda. The discussion had already been scheduled but the opposition parties felt that it was inappropriate to deal with such a theme at that time. The discussion was re-scheduled for January 24.

January 20 - At an informal meeting of labour and social affairs ministers of EU and associated countries Slovak Labour Minister Iveta Radičová expresses serious reservations about Eurostat's methodology used to measure poverty risks. According to the minister, Eurostat results do not objectively take into consideration results and trends achieved through economic and social reforms. This, suggested the minister, creates an impression that reforms on flexibility, motivation and activity are unsuccessful.

January 22 - Economy Minister Jirko Malchárek, Culture Minister František Tóth, and former Deputy Health Minister Alexandra Novotná announce plans to create a new liberal political party, Nádej (Hope).

January 23 - A Special Court sentences Samuel L, the mayor of the village of Veľký Meder to 32 months in jail for accepting a bribe. It also fines him Sk300,000 (€8,000), the sum equal to the bribe he took from a local businessman.

January 23-24 - Church bells ring and sirens sound at noon on January 23 to announce the start of 24 hours of national mourning for the 42 victims of the fatal airplane crash. Flags on state buildings and regional administration and other institutions are at half-mast or rolled up and tied with a black ribbon. Some institutions hoist black flags.

January 25 - The Slovak cabinet agrees to dissolve the management company Správcovská SND, an organization that was to administer the new Slovak National Theater (SND) building. The move comes as a reaction to protests from the cultural community against Správcovská.

January 26 - In Prešov city sports hall, Slovakia pays farewell to the 42 soldiers who died in the January 19 military plane crash. Numerous top state officials attend the ceremony as well as NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Hungarian President László Sólyom, Hungarian Defence Minister Ferenc Juhász and Czech Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl.

January 27 - In response to the military plane tragedy Slovak Defence Minister Juraj Liška announces his resignation from the post.

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