SOUTH Korean carmaker Hyundai/Kia is poised to seek damages from Slovakia if the timetable to prepare the land for its new plant near Žilina is not met, Economy Minister Pavol Rusko warned on July 12.
The firm can claim damages under both the Commercial Code and other legislation, even if the contract with the investor did not stipulate any fines. Judging by the letter sent by the Koreans, Rusko is confident that they will do so, the news wire TASR wrote.
"The ground levelling is planned to begin July 1 and be completed by the end of August. If that is not carried out as scheduled, the entire project is bound to be delayed, with significant losses suffered by both sides," he said, citing excerpts from the letter.
Due to delays in land acquisition, Slovakia may not meet that timetable. Since it announced its decision to build a plant near Žilina in March, landowners have called for much higher prices, most recently Sk300 (€7.50) a square metre, than those offered by the state of around Sk150 (€3.76).
In the most recent turn of events, Smer party media advisor Fedor Flašík encouraged landowners not to sell and offered them cheap legal advice.
According to Stanislav Vinc, the Kia investment's general manager, 70 percent to 80 percent of the overall land has been legally settled, and Flašík is hampering the state's successful purchase of the rest.
The topsoil is already being removed by bulldozers, even from the land not yet purchased, to allow for archaeological research, which was cleared by the Slovak Monuments Authority," said Rusko. He conceded that, if the landowners were successful in their efforts to hold up the project, "the topsoil must be replaced within weeks or months".
According to the latest news, police are investigating an incident in which a Kia billboard was set on fire in Teplička nad Váhom, one of the villages located on the controversial land.
"I hope it is just common vandalism unrelated to the landowners or Flašík," said Juraj Čermák, CEO of Žilina Invest, the company in charge of purchasing the land.
Compiled by Beata Balogová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
13. Jul 2004 at 10:28