News Briefs

Kukan says Schmögnerová knew of UN post
SDK dismisses Kováč, fails to elect new head
Markíza claims to have bought Gamatex
SNS irritated by ECRI racism report

Kukan says Schmögnerová knew of UN post

Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, in response to media reports last month that he and Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda did not tell Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová of her candidacy for the post of the head of the UN European Economic Commission, said that Schmögnerová had in fact known of her candidacy and that she had attended a competition for the job in Rome in April 7. However, Kukan said, she was turned down and the post went instead to the Polish representative.
The matter was discussed in parliament on June 15 when opposition parties asked Dzurinda to explain why he had denied support for Schmögnerová. Dzurinda explained that no official offer had ever been made.

SDK dismisses Kováč, fails to elect new head

Members of the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) dismissed party caucus chairman Roman Kováč from his post on July 3. A new chairman was not elected.
František Mikloško was appointed to temporarily assume the powers of the SDK chair, including participating in the meetings of the Coalition Council on behalf of the SDK. Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda said that the dismissal may have been a response to his creation of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), an alternative to the SDK and one which has the support of several key SDK figures, including six ministers and the unfortunate Kováč.

Markíza claims to have bought Gamatex

The private TV station Markíza reported on July 3 that it had bought a 100% share in the Gamatex company, a firm which has been trying for two years force the station to acknowledge debts Gamatex claims. Markíza management said that the purchase would end all uncertainties over the station's licence, which had been threatened in 1998 by a Gamatex takeover and since then in the courts. Neither side would say how much Markíza had paid to satisfy Gamatex.
Markíza's fate had been imperilled recently when the Broadcast Licence Council (RRTV) threatened to take the station's licence for legal infractions, and when police reported that Markíza owner Pavol Rusko had forged a critical document in his court fight against Gamatex.

SNS irritated by ECRI racism report

The Slovak National Party (SNS) vice chair Dušan Maslonka contested the contents of a report prepared by the Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) which outlined alleged racial intolerance in Slovakia. Unlike other nations, Maslonka said, Slovaks have never been colonists or slave drivers. The SNS says that the June 27 ECRI report was one-sided, offered no solutions to the Roma problem and was compiled by a "clearly incompetent" source. Maslonka added that the police are often too benevolent in dealing with the Roma.

Compiled by Chris Togneri from SITA

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