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Opposition links Lisbon Treaty support with Press Bill compromise

On January 28 all three parliamentary opposition parties agreed to ask Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška to withdraw the draft press bill, as well as the draft reform treaty on the European Union signed in Lisbon in December from the agenda of today’s parliamentary session. Following the opposition leader’s meeting, KDH Chairman Pavol Hrušovský announced that if Paška turned a blind eye to this request, opposition MPs would not attend the parliamentary discussion on the Lisbon Treaty. To ratify the Lisbon Treaty, a constitutional majority of ninety deputy votes is required. This means that the treaty can be passed only with the support of a part of the opposition.

On January 28 all three parliamentary opposition parties agreed to ask Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška to withdraw the draft press bill, as well as the draft reform treaty on the European Union signed in Lisbon in December from the agenda of today’s parliamentary session. Following the opposition leader’s meeting, KDH Chairman Pavol Hrušovský announced that if Paška turned a blind eye to this request, opposition MPs would not attend the parliamentary discussion on the Lisbon Treaty. To ratify the Lisbon Treaty, a constitutional majority of ninety deputy votes is required. This means that the treaty can be passed only with the support of a part of the opposition.

Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška told SITA he had not yet received the opposition's request.

Following today's meeting, the opposition said that it was concerned by the curbing of democracy in Slovakia and by the ruling coalition's pressure on media freedom, NGOs as well as anything that has proven to be viable and private. However, this does not mean that the opposition will not support the Lisbon Treaty in the future, either. "We are talking only about the upcoming session [of parliament]," explained Dzurinda. The OSCE is urging the Slovak government to withdraw the draft press bill, as it contains paragraphs that would seriously curb editorial autonomy and would go against Slovakia's commitment to protecting media freedom. Slovakia's diplomats and OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklós Haraszti, however, agreed on Friday that experts from Slovakia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will meet at the beginning of this week in Vienna to discuss Slovakia's draft press bill.

Opposition parties also agreed on mutual support for their draft bills in parliament. They will also discuss some details of the draft amendment to the abortion draft prepared by the KDH. Hrušovský stressed that if Defence Minister František Kašický had not resigned from his post, the opposition would have initiated his recall today. SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports

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