News Briefs

Czech senate ratifies treaty on federal assets
Figeľ in Holland to debate Roma asylum seekers
DÚ vice-chairmen Budaj and Švec resign
MP Sládeček's immunity should be lifted: Committee
STV management concerned about lobby groups

Czech senate ratifies treaty on federal assets

The Czech senate May 10 approved the agreement between the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic on the division of the former federal assets. Of 60 senators present 52 voted for the agreement and eight abstained.
The Slovak Parliament had already given its approval on February 1 this year.
Both countries have been trying to agree on the division of federal assets since January 1, 1993, when the Czechoslovak Federal Republic split into two independent states. The agreement was signed by respective premiers Mikuláš Dzurinda and Miloš Zeman November 24 last year.
Under the terms of the accord the Czech National Bank (CNB) will return 4.5 metric tons of gold that it kept as lien for a 25.8 billion crown debt that Slovakia did not acknowledge. The Czech Republic will be partially compensated by the exchange of the shares of the Slovak VÚB and Czech Komerční Banka (KB) when the current price of the KB stake is higher than the price of the VÚB stake.
The Slovak national privatization agency (FNM) owns a 14.7% stake in KB, and its Czech counterpart owns a 29.6% stake in VÚB.

Figeľ in Holland to debate Roma asylum seekers

State Secretary of the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry Ján Figeľ left for a two-day visit to the Netherlands May 9 to discuss issues linked to asylum requests from Slovak Roma. Figeľ was due to meet his Dutch counterpart Dick Beshop and discuss ways to halt the Roma exodus to the Netherlands.
Figeľ was also due to meet the State Secretary of the Dutch Justice Ministry Job Cohen and address the Dutch Institute of Foreign Affairs.
Along with the Roma migration, Figeľ was also expected to discuss Slovakia's integration ambitions and possible political and economic developments in Slovakia. The partners would also discuss preparations for the Memorandum on Partnership between the Netherlands and the Slovak Republic that would be signed during the planned visit of Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok to Bratislava.

DÚ vice-chairmen Budaj and Švec resign

At a special congress of the ruling Democratic Union (DÚ) May 6 which was to decide on their future, party vice chairmen Ján Budaj and Juraj Švec resigned from their posts. Budaj said after his resignation that he will continue in Democratic Union as a rank and file member. He repeatedly criticised the congress organisers for underpreparation.
A wing in the DÚ, led by the DÚ chief and Economy Minister Lubomír Harach, supports close cooperation and even a merger with the newly established Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) of Mikuláš Dzurinda. Another wing, represented by Budaj, supports the continuation of the present independent existence of the party.
Švec said that the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union will need a strong political partner and the DU can be that leader.
Prior to their resignation both men had walked out of the conference, attacking Harach and calling the meeting a farce. Budaj said that 80 percent of delegates giving their support to Harach are state employees and only concerned with their jobs.
Harach said after the two men's walk-out that the internal situation in the DÚ is unsustainable.

MP Sládeček's immunity should be lifted: Committee

The Mandate and Immunity Committee of the Slovak Parliament recommended lifting the deputies' immunity of independent deputy Imrich Sládeček May 4, but recommended not to do the same for the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia's (HZDS) Gustáv Krajči, who served as interior minister in the government of Vladimír Mečiar.
Sládeček is suspected of participation in a fraud during December 1997 and February 1998, when he was the authorised representative and associate in limited liability company Centrogel. Police have said that Sládeček signed an amendment to a contract that the company would create 111 jobs and in return receive a contribution from the municipal labour office of 22.2 million crowns.
Committee secretary Miroslav Krúpa said that the committee disagreed with lifting Krajči's immunity because investigators failed to submit sufficient direct evidence that would have persuasive power for deputies to justify criminal prosecution of Krajči.
Krajči is under investigation for allegedly accepting a bribe of 4.5 million crowns from representatives of the Bratislava-based company Goldfin Invest.

STV management concerned about lobby groups

Luboš Jariabka of public Slovak Television (STV) said he is afraid that the recent storm around STV is nothing but an effort lobby groups to force through the privatisation of the STV 2 channel.
Jariabka was responding to the May 4 deputy audit at STV. According to Jariabka, who met members of the Parliamentary Media Committee, the audit has proven that there is no crisis at STV but only financial difficulties.

Compiled by Ed Holt
from SITA

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