Political news roundup

July 3 - Former Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS) director Ivan Lexa should be rehabilitated, says his former party boss and three-time ex-PM Vladimír Mečiar. He also says the same should apply to Piešťany spa privatiser Karol Martinka, whose criminal prosecution was halted in June of this year after eight years.

July 3 - The designated Slovak Prime Minister, Robert Fico, officially informs Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič of the proposed composition of his new cabinet. The president accepts the list and says that he does not have a problem with any of the candidates.

July 4 - Following the resignation of the outgoing centre-right cabinet led by Mikuláš Dzurinda, President Ivan Gašparovič appoints a cabinet formed by Slovakia's new ruling coalition composed of Smer, the Slovak National Party (SNS) and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS). Smer has 11 cabinet ministers, the SNS three and HZDS two.

July 4 - At their first session, 149 of 150 newly elected members of the Slovak Parliament take their MP oath of office. Only one deputy, FIFA football referee Ľuboš Micheľ of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), is not present at the session as he is one of the referees at the FIFA Football World Cup 2006 taking place in Germany.

July 4 - The Slovak Parliament elects Smer's Pavol Paška to be its speaker. Paška's nomination is backed by 98 of the 148 MPs who are present for the vote. The parliament also elects four new deputy chairpersons. The ruling coalition is represented by Miroslav Číž (Smer), Anna Belousovová (Slovak National Party) and Viliam Veteška (Movement for a Democratic Slovakia). The fourth deputy speaker post belongs to the opposition, which nominates Milan Hort (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union) to the post.

July 6 - Slovakia's right-wing members of the European Parliament (EP), concerned about the political situation in Slovakia due to a new ruling coalition formed by Smer, HZDS and the SNS, ask the European People's Party (EPP), the strongest EP faction, to set up a monitoring group that will observe the political situation in Slovakia. The MPs who signed the request note that HZDS and SNS activities had harmed Slovakia in the recent past in all spheres of life. A lack of the rule of law, the infringement of human and minority rights, high corruption and their overall political orientation once thwarted Slovakia's efforts to integrate into the EU and NATO, the parties suggest.

July 6 - Following a meeting with Slovak PM Robert Fico, who is leader of the left-wing Smer party, the head of the European Socialist Party (PSE), Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, states that the sanctions that European Socialists plan to levy on Smer will remain in effect as long as the current ruling coalition is in power in Slovakia. The European Socialist Party is deeply concerned about the decision of Smer to form a ruling coalition with the ultra-right Slovak National Party (SNS).

July 10 - The ruling coalition party leaders meet for the first time to discuss the government's programme statement, which parliament should approve on August 3. The government has already signaled that health care fees will be cancelled and the coalition also plans to make cuts in state spending. According to PM Robert Fico the flat income tax will be preserved but big monopolies will face additional taxation.

July 11 - Slovak Foreign Minister Ján Kubiš visits Hungary to talk about mutual relations between Slovakia and Hungary. During his first foreign trip while in office, the minister meets with his Hungarian counterpart, Kinga Goncz, and assures Goncz that the new Slovak government will act democratically, maintain a pro-European position and fully respect minorities and human rights. Kubiš is thus reacting to media questions as to whether assurances of the fulfillment of the government's programme statement will be enough to allay all of the past anti-Hungarian statements uttered by Slovak National Party leader Ján Slota.

July 14 - US Ambassador to Slovakia Rodolphe Vallee is convinced that relations between the United States of America and Slovakia will remain as strong as they are now. He offers this opinion after an hour-long meeting with new Slovak PM Robert Fico.

July 17 - Defence Minister František Kašický recalls Colonel Vladimir Kotrus from the position of director of the Military Counter Intelligence Service (VOS). A functionary from the service is temporarily put in charge of the VOS.

July 19 - The government agrees to nominate Jozef Magala as the new director of the Slovak Information Service (SIS). The president appoints the SIS director nominated by the cabinet. Magala replaces Ladislav Pittner, who had been director of the SIS since April 4, 2003.

July 26 - Acting on a proposal from the new cabinet, President Ivan Gašparovič recalls Ladislav Pittner from the top post at the Slovak intelligence service, a post he has held since April 2003.

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