News Briefs

Financial Control and Audits Law passed
Deputy PM says Roma exodus an organised business
Markíza influence noted by media industry watchdog
House of Foreign Slovaks to be disbanded
Cabinet reform appointee still hopeful
Civil Code amended to help evict tenants

Financial Control and Audits Law passed

The government on May 23 passed a Law on Financial Controls and Internal Audits which will, for example, allow a state-empowered auditor to conduct ex ante checks on how public money is used by state organs. The law is a pre-condition to Slovakia's opening the crucial Financial Controls chapter of the EU-entry blueprint acquis communautaire; parliament is expected to debate the law in August.

Deputy PM says Roma exodus an organised business

Deputy Prime Minister for National Minorities Pál Csáky suggested in a report he submitted to cabinet May 23 that political representatives of the Roma community have been indirectly profiting from the waves of Roma emigration that have occurred over the past four years. The Roma leaders use the danger of Roma emigration and its international impact to put pressure on the government to financing programmes for the Roma community.
Csáky's report was based on data provided by the Interior and Foreign Ministries and the Slovak Intelligence Service. It suggested that Roma leaders do not openly support Roma migration, but that the initially spontaneous and economically-motivated asylum trips have grown into a more organised phenomenon. Csáky himself has said he believes the intelligence services of other countries have contributed to migrations of Slovak Roma.
The report claims that usurers and document forgers violate the laws and profit from the Roma migration. "These structures are becoming an element of organized crime, while illegal migration has become a very lucrative business," Csáky claimed.

Markíza influence noted by media industry watchdog

The Council for Broadcast and Retransmission, a media market controlling body, submitted a report to parliament May 22 which identified the growth of a new media empire in Slovakia had been one of the most significant developments last year.
The licensing authority wrote that close media and advertising links had grown up between the private television station TV Markíza, the charity group Markíza Foundation, the daily newspaper Národná obroda, the weekly magazine Markíza and the private radio station Koliba (now OKEY).

House of Foreign Slovaks to be disbanded

Culture Minister Milan Knažko will submit in June a proposal that the current House of Foreign Slovaks be disbanded by the end of the year. The House until now had been the institutional basis of relations between Slovakia and Slovaks living abroad, but according to the minister has become too costly and inefficient.
A new Coordination Center for Slovak Compatriots, working out of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, should take its place. The change should reduce the cost of keeping relations with Slovaks living abroad, and the savings will be used for projects involving Slovak expatriates.

Cabinet reform appointee still hopeful

Viktor Nižňanský, Cabinet Appointee for the Reform of Public Administration, said he hopes parliament will take key political decisions on changing the country's territorial arrangement, including elections to regional self-governments and speeding up the public administration reform process, by the end of May. Nižňanský said this while addressing an international conference in Bratislava May 18 called "Territorial self-governments in Slovakia in the Process of EU Integration."
Nižňanský favours dividing Slovakia into 12, rather than its current eight regions, and having a new level of regional government elected to lead each new territory. He explained that even now, more than 70% of Slovak citizens feel a greater connection to the country's natural geographic regions such as Spiš, Šariš, Zemplin, Orava, Turiec and Gemer, rather than to the current artificially drawn regions. He said Slovaks feel greater ties to these natural regions than they do even to their churches, state or nation.
The tradition of regional administrations began in the 13th century, and was only abandoned after 1900. While from the 9th through 19th centuries Slovakia underwent only five territorial reforms, the last century recorded 10 such reforms, most of which obeyed the power interests of ruling political circles than the will of citizens.

Civil Code amended to help evict tenants

Members of parliament approved a revision to the Civil Code May 17, removing the excessive protection tenants are afforded by the legal system, protection which has until now limited the ownership rights of landlords. The law becomes effective July 1, and allows tenants who fail to pay rent to be evicted without court approval, as is currently the case. The revision introduces sanctions against tenants who don't pay rent, or who damage rented premises. The change is expected to promote housing construction by better protecting landlords.

Compiled by Tom Nicholson
from press reports and SITA

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