News Briefs

If Žilina hangs Tiso plaque, MP's will respond
UK's Cook meets Schuster to discuss Romany project
Visas for Ukraine, Russia and Belarus not at same time

If Žilina hangs Tiso plaque, MP's will respond

If the town hall in northern Slovakia's Žilina does not cancel its decision to dedicate a plaque honouring Jozef Tiso, the president of the wartime Slovak State,the Slovak parliament at its March session will adopt a resolution condemning the act. Members of the ruling coalition agreed to such a move after Peter Zajac, an MP for the ruling SDK party, suggested a declaration condemning any celebration of totalitarian regimes of the 20th century in Slovakia.
The draft declaration reads that parliament condemns any expression of racial hatred and extremism, and warns that the Penal Code defines such acts as crimes. MP's are also expected to declare that they respect the victims of totalitarian regimes and those who resisted these regimes. The parliament should also appeal to the Žilina municipal office to change its mind.
Žilina was one of the greatest concentration centres where Jews were kept before their deportation to German camps during WW2. There is no single plaque or monument to commemorate the Jewish victims there. During Tiso's presidency, about 58,000 Jews were taken to concentration camps from Slovakia from March to October of 1942. Between 1944 and 1945, an additional 11,000 were deported. Historical documents suggest that from Žilina alone 3,600 Jews were deported to concentration camps and only 600 returned.
Slovakia was the only European country that deported its Jews while not being occupied by fascist Germany. Later, some Slovak historians interpreted the deportations as the price that Slovaks had to pay for being allowed to form its first independent state.

UK's Cook meets Schuster to discuss Romany project

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook met Slovak President Rudolf Schuster on March 6 and discussed a joint project between the Slovak and Czech Republics to solve 'the Romany problem.'
Schuster reported after the meeting that, given the new asylum legislation in Great Britain, there is still a chance that the UK's visa regime for Slovakia will be canceled, but added that Cook had not given any concrete date for this to happen. "But with the Czech-Slovak Romany project agreement and Britain running under a new asylum policy, I am certain that it could happen by the end of the year," Schuster said.
The UK installed a visa regime for Slovaks in 1998 after several hundred Slovak Romanies emigrated to Great Britian to apply for asylum. Many European countries have urged Slovakia to improve living conditions for Romanies, while the Slovak government has advised EU nations to tighten their permissive asylum laws.
Schuster also told media that Cook had expressed full support for Slovakia's NATO and EU integration ambitions. Cook was paying his first visit to Slovakia, and met his Slovak counterpart Eduard Kukan as well as Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda.

Visas for Ukraine, Russia and Belarus not at same time

Deputy Foreign Ministrer Jaroslav Chlebo said on March 6 that the Slovak cabinet would not impose visas restrictions on Ukraine, Russia and Belarus at the same time, but according to a staggered schedule. He suggested that visas for Ukraine should take effect at approximately the same time as the Czech Republic's visa regime against Ukraine, while Slovakia should coordinate its visa policy towards Russia and Belarus with Poland and Hungary by January 1, 2001. Prague reintroduced visas for these three countries on February 2. Chlebo explained that imposing a visa regime was technically very demanding, which is why Slovakia needed a gradual time schedule to prepare its three restrictions.
At its February 28 session, the cabinet was unable to reach a consensus on the question of visas for Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The visas have been urged to control the flow of organised crime figures into Slovakia, as well as to cut down on illegal workers and migrants from the three eastern countries.

Compiled by Tom Nicholson
from SITA

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