News Briefs

Hamžík presents national programme to EC's Rochel
Ex-Communist leader Biľak charged with high treason
Dzurinda's SDKÚ begins member registration
TV Markíza fined 2 million Sk for Müller interview
HZDS's Kramplová says coalition was watching her
Illegal immigrants discovered after truck crash

Hamžík presents national programme to EC's Rochel

Deputy Prime Minister Pavol Hamžík gave Slovakia's national programme for adopting EU legislation (known as the acquis communautaire) to Walter Rochel, the Ambassador of the European Commission to Slovakia. The presentation took place in Bratislava on April 4 in the presence of French Ambassador to Slovakia George Vaugier; France will assume the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2000.
The programme is the basic document that outlines the process of Slovakia's accession into the European Union (EU). It includes law approximation, the shaping of institutions, and the provision of financial assistance. The programme also defines the government's responsibilities in fulfilling obligations to the Partnership for Accession Programme and the comprehensive legislative programme of adopting European law by the end of 2002. The revised version of the document is oriented towards accession talks and presents the future actions of the government while evaluating the implementation of the European legislation to date.
Rochel said that the European Commission would use the national programme to update its regular report on Slovakia, and emphasized that the most important evaluation would be concerning the implementation of EU-standard laws. The cabinet and parliament should focus on shaping new institutions and infrastructure.
From the point of view of the European Commission, Slovakia should focus on securing the independence of the judiciary, creating the stable operation of democratic institutions, and combating corruption. Rochel also said that the reform of public administration was important as was the improvement of the living conditions of the Roma in Slovakia.

Ex-Communist leader Biľak charged with high treason

The Bratislava Prosecutor General filed a lawsuit on March 30 against Vasil Biľak, the former secretary general of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, who was accused of 'inviting' the Warsaw pact troops into Czechoslovakia in 1968 to crush the Prague Spring demonstrations. Biľak has also been charged with violating the protection of peace law as well as some economic laws.
During a police inquiry, Biľak confessed to handing a letter to Leonid Brezhnev, then secretary general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in person several days prior to the Warsaw Pact intervention. Biľak said the letter was an analysis of the political situation in Czechoslovakia in 1968.
In a rare interview published a year ago, Biľak said he believed that socialism would return because "it is the destiny of mankind. The desire of people for a better life, justice, and equality will live on."

Dzurinda's SDKÚ begins member registration

The Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), a breakaway party of the ruling Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK), started registering new members on April 3 and promoted the new party in major Slovak cities inlcuding Banská Bystrica, Žilina and Nitra. SDKÚ founder and Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda told supporters in Žilina that the new party wanted to unite democratic political forces in Slovakia and to counterbalance the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) in the next elections, scheduled for 2002.
Members of other parties can not join the SDKÚ, although SDK members may be permitted dual-membership. Besides Dzurinda, other key SDKÚ members include Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan, Culture Minister Milan Kňažko, Health Minister Tibor Šagát, Deputy Finance Minister Viliam Vaškovič, Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner, Telecom Minister Jozef Macejko, Ivan Šimko, Milan Hort, Juraj Kopčak and Peter Kresánek.

TV Markíza fined 2 million Sk for Müller interview

Private TV Markíza was fined 2 million Slovak crowns ($46,500) for broadcasting a March 6 interview with singer Richard Müller in which he spoke of his use of marijuana and other drugs. The Board of Radio and TV Broadcasting (RRTV) ruled April 4 that the interview could have been perceived as promoting drugs.
RRTV chairman Peter Juráš said that Markíza had violated the law on radio and TV broadcasting because it aired the interview before 22:00. A Slovak media watchdog concluded that the interview could have endangered the psychological and moral development of young viewers, an opinion which was seconded by a state-authorized court specialist.
Müller has been charged with promoting drugs and could face up to eight years in prison for his comments. TV Markíza co-owner Pavol Rusko told journalists that the station would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

HZDS's Kramplová says coalition was watching her

Zdenka Kramplová, the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) Vice-Chair and former Foreign Minister, said April 2 on a TV Markíza programme known as "Na telo" ('Hard Hitting'), that the ruling coalition was "monitoring" her actions. Kramplová was recalled as Ambassador to Canada last November one month after being selected to her post by outgoing Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar, but disobeyed the recall and remained in Canada for several months.
Kramplová said she had filed a complaint against an unknown offender who had used state authorities to trace her actions in Canada.

Illegal immigrants discovered after truck crash

Police found 101 illegal immigrants (including 13 women and 14 children) from China, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and India near the village of Pincina in southern Slovakia. The illegal immigrants, most of whom had no identification documents, had crossed into Slovakia from Ukraine at an undertermined location and traveled by truck through Košice.
At Pincina, the truck driver crashed, leading to the discovery of the immigrants by local police. Banská Bystrica Police spokeswoman Marta Mandáková said that the immigrants were given provisional shelter with the border police department.

Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA

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