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Smer holds party congress in Bratislava

PRIME Minister Robert Fico told a Smer party congress in Bratislava on December 9 that Smer is against the cancellation of the Special Court in Pezinok, which the previous government founded to fight corruption and organized crime.

The congress evaluated the party's performance in government so far and its future prospects. Among Smer’s priorities for 2007 Fico mentioned passing legislation requiring people to demonstrated the origin of their assets, and finding a legal way of dealing with contracts with the private sector that are disadvantageous for the state.

In the social sphere, the party rejects the idea of addressing the deficit of the Sociálna Poisťovňa social security company by increasing the retirement age, while it intends to make participation in the capitalization pillar of the pension system voluntary.

Smer also wants to lower government spending and to reduce the number of employees in the middle ranks of public administration by 20 percent.

In the energy sector, pressure will continue on the Italian company Enel, the new majority owner of power utility Slovenské Elektrárne, to complete the two unfinished blocks of the Mochovce nuclear power plant.

Fico appealed to the opposition to cooperate with Smer on scripting a long-term development concept for Slovakia, whose priority should be building a knowledge-based society and overcoming regional disparities.

The prime minister said he was convinced that Smer would return to the Party of European Socialists in May 2007. Its membership was suspended in October 2006 because it chose the far-right Slovak National Party (SNS) as a coalition partner in the new Slovak government. Fico told the party congress that he considers the SNS a stabilizing element in the coalition.

At the party level, Fico said he expects a revival in Smer, and he suggested that the party’s leaders not be allowed to hold posts in government, but rather that they focus their attention on party affairs.

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