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Euro support guarantees divide coalition parties

THE SLOVAK cabinet approved an increase in the amount of the country’s guarantees to the European Financial Stabilisation Facility (EFSF) and its participation in a future European Stability Mechanism (ESM) that will begin in 2013. But there is no assurance that the cabinet’s decision will have enough weight in the national parliament since four ministers from the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party and one minister from the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), both of which are members of the four-party governing coalition, voted against Slovakia participating in the European programmes to assist member countries with financial difficulties.

THE SLOVAK cabinet approved an increase in the amount of the country’s guarantees to the European Financial Stabilisation Facility (EFSF) and its participation in a future European Stability Mechanism (ESM) that will begin in 2013. But there is no assurance that the cabinet’s decision will have enough weight in the national parliament since four ministers from the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party and one minister from the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), both of which are members of the four-party governing coalition, voted against Slovakia participating in the European programmes to assist member countries with financial difficulties.

“I am leaving for Brussels with a clear mandate and will inform [the EU] very precisely: it is approved by the government but I cannot guarantee its ratification in parliament,” said Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, as quoted by the Sme daily.

Slovakia’s guarantees in the current EFSF bailout programme would increase from €4.37 billion to €7.72 billion, based on the draft addendum to the EFSF framework contract passed by the cabinet on June 21. The total guarantees of all Eurozone countries would increase from €440 billion to €779 billion so that the effective capacity of the programme of €440 billion is secured, the SITA newswire reported. The EFSF will be replaced by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) beginning in June 2013.

Radičová said that her government agreed with the increase in Slovakia’s guarantees to secure continuity in European efforts to protect the euro and to fulfil the obligations inherited from the previous government. She stressed that neither of the proposals is linked to any specific loan to Greece or any other country.

The chairman of SaS, Richard Sulík, has stated that his party is fundamentally opposed to Slovakia’s entry into the ESM as well as to increasing Slovakia’s guarantees to the EFSF.

Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic of KDH also voted against the proposals and argued that when Slovaks have to tighten their belts it is not fair asking them “to contribute their money to Greeks who aren’t responsible”.

The head of Smer party, Robert Fico, called on Radičová to discipline Sulík, adding that Smer would support mechanisms to protect the euro but would not support games played by SaS, adding that his party would vote for the proposals only if all the parties of the ruling coalition do so.

“If the whole coalition does not support the two proposed mechanisms, I see no reason to extend a helping hand to the government and to SaS,” Fico said, as quoted by SITA.


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