News Briefs

Deputy PM Ivan Mikloš walks out on Democratic Party

Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ivan Mikloš and cabinet appointee for public administration reform Viktor Nižňanský on December 9 both quit the Democratic Party (DS), a faction of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda's Slovak Democratic Party (SDK). The move came on the heels of DS party boss Ján Langoš' decision to follow the Christian Democratic Party (KDH) in walking out on the SDK.
Mikloš and Nižňanský announced their decision at the party congress in Trenčín, where they criticised the decision of the party's Langoš wing to leave the SDK. Mikloš has not yet confirmed whether he will join Dzurinda's new SDKÚ party, although he has said it is "the closest" to his political philosophy.
Several DS members reportedly sided with Mikloš, who said the Langoš' decision to reject possibilities of future cooperation with the SDK had been ill-advised and hasty. DS representative Jozef Kužma said Mikloš' departure was a "slap in the face" for the DS board, adding that a new party leadership would likely be elected.
The Slovak weekly paper Domino fórum has speculated that Mikloš' departure spells the end for the DS, one of the country's oldest parties. The paper has also questioned Mikloš' future position as an architect and promoter of economic and civil service reform. If the Deputy PM remains independent, the paper writes, he will have no party backing to bolster his demands, while if he joins the SDKÚ he may find his voice diluted by other, more powerful SDKÚ members.

Former HZDS vice-chair charged with sabotage

Rudolf Žiak, the former vice-chairman of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), has been charged with trying to sabotage the entry ambitions of central European countries into the European Union (EU) and NATO during his time as counter-intelligence chief with the Slovak secret
service (SIS).
Chief Slovak Investigator Jaroslav Ivor announced on December 11 in Bratislava that charges had already been filed against Žiak as well as two of his cohorts, Milan M. and Zdenko B. on December 5. "They attempted to thwart the integration efforts of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland by establishing in April 1995 a department of special operations [in the SIS] to promote negative attitudes toward membership in European structures among citizens of these countries," Ivor said.
Žiak and the two men allegedly prepared 15 proposals for such operations from 1997 to 1998, including one campaign which was carried out beyond Slovak borders.
Žiak's HZDS party has protested what it sees as a government witch-hunt, but in recent days has also had to deal with another case involving
one of its own - charges of fraud laid against Viliam Soboňa, a former Health Minister in the 1992-1994 government of Vladimír Mečiar.

Migaš returns from Japan trip refuting criticism

On the last day of his official trip to Japan, Slovak Speaker of Parliament Jozef Migaš met with representatives of the Osaka Kokusai Securities firm, who presented him with a gift to mark the continuation of the highway construction programme in Slovakia.
Migaš had been heavily criticised for the trip by his parliamentary colleagues, who said he should not have left during debates on the 2001 budget, which was passed by parliament December 13. Migaš had forbidden other members of parliament to travel during the same period.
The head of the reformed communist Party of the Democratic Left (SDĽ), Migaš said that he had to travel during the debates because the trip, arranged two years ago, had already been postponed once. Had he not gone, he added, it would have jeopardised Slovak relations with the Japanese.

Compiled by Chris Togneri From SITA and TASR

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