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News Briefs

State health care wages to increase as of June 1
Slovaks mark day of victory over fascism
Schuster hosts life-saving Austrian doctors
Bush nominates new ambassador to Slovakia
Kukan meets with European counterparts
Vincent Danihel recalled from Roma post

State health care wages to increase as of June 1

Health Minister Roman Kováč announced that the wages of state health care employees would increase as of June 1. Kováč said that the cabinet had approved the increase during its regular session on May 9.
Wages of doctors will climb by 45% while nurses will see a 36% rise. The wage increase will cost the state 1.8 billion Slovak crowns per year.
The morning before the announcement, approximately 300 health care sector employees held a demonstration in front of the Health Ministry.
Doctors are currently among the lowest paid professionals in the country, earning an average of 10,500 crowns a month ($216) without overtime. The Slovak average wage last year was over 11,000 crowns a month.


Slovaks mark day of victory over fascism

Marking the anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe and the liberation of the former Czechoslovakia, Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda spoke at a gathering in Bratislava May 8. "After more than 50 years we are still trying to get over what World War II has left behind," he said. "Europe is not yet healed.
Representatives of the Slovak Army, accredited diplomats in Slovakia and members of the Association of Anti-Fascist Fighters laid wreaths at a memorial of soldiers who died during liberation in 1945.


Schuster hosts life-saving Austrian doctors

President Rudolf Schuster welcomed Austrian anaesthesiologist Walter Hasibeder and chief surgeon Ernst Bodner from the Innsbruck Clinic to the eastern Slovak city of Košice on May 8. The two medical experts saved Schuster's life last summer after Slovak doctors were unable to properly treat the President in a scandal that eventually led to the resignation of Health Minister Tibor Šagát.
Last year, Bodner received 200 letters from Košice inhabitants who thanked him for saving Schuster's life. Schuster was the mayor of Košice from 1994 to 1999.
On their visit, the physicians attended the release of a new book written by Schuster's daughter entitled Don't Cry, Mummy, Dad is Still Alive. Schuster said he was not yet emotionally ready to read the book.


Bush nominates new ambassador to Slovakia

US President George W Bush nominated Ronald Weiser as the next American ambassador to Slovakia. Weiser is the founder and CEO of real estate investment company McKinley Associates Inc.
"Ron Weiser is a leader in his community and a successful entrepreneur who has been active in numerous civic and philanthropic activities," Bush said. "As US ambassador, he will build on the strong relationship that the US and the Slovak Republic enjoy."
Weiser was finance chairman of Bush's Michigan presidential campaign and a member of the Pioneers, a group of donors who each raised at least $100,000 for Bush.


Kukan meets with European counterparts

Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan attended a May 7 meeting of European Union and candidate country foreign ministers in Nykopyng, Sweden. Kukan addressed EU concerns over the Free Movement of Persons chapter in the acquis communautaire (a list of requirements EU candidate countries must satisfy before entry) by saying that the labour force from Slovakia could not seriously threaten the labour market of EU members. Several EU states have asked that the movement of labour from candidate countries be restricted for some time after they enter the EU.
At the meeting, the ministers also discussed a proposal by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on the future arrangement of Europe. Schroeder recently proposed that the EU Commission in Brussels be changed into a European government. Kukan said that Slovakia could imagine the future EU as a federation.


Vincent Danihel recalled from Roma post

At its regular session on May 9, the cabinet recalled Vincent Danihel, its plenipotentiary for solving the problems of the Roma minority. Deputy Prime Minister for Minorities Pál Csáky said that recent personal conflicts between Danihel and himself were not behind the sacking.
Csáky said that the cabinet had been dissatisfied with Danihel's work. Danihel had been repeatedly reproached for his passivity, lack of support among the Roma minority, and for his inability to communicate with the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Danihel does not speak English). Csáky has promised to hold a tender for Danihel's post within a week.
On Monday, Danihel filed a complaint against Csáky with the district prosecutor. He charged Csáky with mishandling World-Bank funds of $280,000, saying that Csáky used the money instead to finance activities not associated with the project.


Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA, TASR and press reports

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