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NEWS BRIEFS

Benefits for Slovaks living abroad

A DRAFT bill recently approved by the Slovak cabinet would provide Slovaks living abroad with state aid for education and culture, news wire SITA wrote.

The bill replaces legislation from 1997 and puts the General Secretariat for Foreign Slovaks in charge of administering the new policy, which includes issuing certificates that can be used to gain access to a number of benefits.

The law also changes the requirements for gaining Slovak citizenship. Applicants will be able to qualify for citizenship after just two years of permanent residence (down from five) and will no longer be required to report their temporary residence to authorities.

Vilma Privarová, the government's plenipotentiary for foreign Slovaks, said she is prepared to push for further advantages for Slovak expats.

In 2005, Sk12 million (€180,000) will be distributed among projects for foreign Slovaks. As much as Sk7 million (€310,000) will go through the House of Foreign Slovaks exclusively to support culture.

There are currently over 2 million Slovaks, or people of Slovak origin, estimated to be living abroad.

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