News digest: Slovaks keep losing trust in politicians

First NATO troops and Patriot system have arrived. Authorities block another disinformation website. Defence minister sues Smer MP Blaha.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Welcome to the Monday, March 21, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia with the main news of the day in less than five minutes.

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First troops and Patriot system have arrived

The first NATO troops tasked with setting up the Patriot anti-missile defence system arrived in Slovakia on Sunday, and more are expected to come in the coming days. The system will be temporarily placed at the military base in Sliač (Banská Bystrica Region).

Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) noted that the Patriot is not a replacement for the Russian system S-300, but another feature for the protection of Slovakia’s airspace.

CNN reported last week that Slovakia preliminary agreed to give the S-300 system to Ukraine but only after finding a proper replacement; yet Naď has said that the Patriot systems are in Slovakia on a temporary basis.

The minister also thanked Germany and the Netherlands for offering the system.


More on the war in Ukraine

  • Nearly 250,000 people from Ukraine have crossed the border with Slovakia since the war started in late February; this includes mostly Ukrainian women and children, but also foreigners living in the country who wanted to return to their homeland. Altogether 44,705 people have asked for temporary protection and 163 for asylum. The inflow of refugees from Ukraine via the Slovak border has been falling in the last few days.
  • Slovakia is ready to help the Czech Republic with the wave of refugees from Ukraine, said PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), adding that Slovakia is currently seen mostly as a transit country. In his opinion, refugees could be working here in positions that employers cannot fill with Slovak nationals.
  • The National Security Authority (NBÚ) has blocked another website spreading disinformation in Slovakia – Infovojna. The website administrators had recently moved the domain to Belize.
  • The Profesia recruitment company launched a special job search for people from Ukraine on its website, now available in Ukrainian as well.
  • Tatra Banka will start exchanging Ukrainian hryvnias for euros, with the limit of €250 per person per day, tomorrow. For now, exchange will be possible in Bratislava (in Tatracentrum on Hodžovo Square); but spots in Humenné and Michalovce, close to the state-run hotspots, will be added later.

For a deeper insight into current affairs, check out our Last Week in Slovakia piece published earlier today. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

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Trust in politicians falls

The public's trust in President Zuzana Čaputová has significantly dropped in the past three months. Only 42 percent of people said that they trust her, which has been the lowest rate since she took office in 2019. Yet, she remains the most trusted politician in the country.

This stems from the poll conducted by the Focus agency for the private broadcaster TV Markíza in late February.

The drop might have been caused by several factors, according to Focus head Martin Slosiarik. In late 2021, for example, several representatives of the senior ruling party OĽaNO criticised the president for her statements concerning PM Eduard Heger and his management of the pandemic, her meeting with opposition politician Pellegrini, and her support for the Defense Cooperation Agreement between Slovakia and the United States.

“The president lost it especially in the electorates of the opposition parties, but neither did some voters of the coalition parties agree with the DCA,” Slosiarik said. “This was probably demonstrated in the decrease of trustworthiness towards her.”

Čaputová was not the only politician whose trustworthiness dropped. Opposition leaders Peter Pellegrini (Hlas) and Robert Fico (Smer) also witnessed a decrease in their trustworthiness, while the trustworthiness of several coalition leaders keeps stagnating.

Since the data was collected between February 22 and March 1, the poll results do not much reflect the situation after the war in Ukraine started.


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Picture of the day

Spring is gradually coming to Bratislava, with dozens of crocuses and daffodils coming to bloom.


Feature story for today

Unlike many other sectors, the business service centre (BSC) sector experienced very few difficulties with the pandemic-induced transition to across-the-board home office operation. Two years into the pandemic, office life has not been restored to its previous form and BSCs are in the process of deciding whether it ever should. Most may not return to the way things were.

The model, which has been labelled as hybrid work, will reduce office spaces. According to the survey conducted among members of the Business Service Center Forum (BSCF), 55 percent of its member companies are planning some reductions over the next few years, while 35 percent are not planning any changes and 8 percent need for more space, according to BSCF vice chair Martin Bednár.

Focus at home, team up at work. The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the work environment at business centres Read more 

In other news

  • 2,840 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 5,479 PCR tests performed on March 20. The number of people in hospitals is 2,385; and 23 more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 51.26 percent; 2,819,083 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) filed a lawsuit against Smer MP Ľuboš Blaha at the Bratislava I District Court. As he wrote on Facebook, Blaha has repeatedly called him, as well as other constitutional officials, a traitor and has accused him of treason without presenting any evidence.
  • The Fitch Ratings international economic rating agency has affirmed Slovakia’s A rating with a stable outlook. The current evaluation is supported by competitive exports, stable foreign direct investments (FDI) and EU capital inflows, according to the agency.
  • Public transport in Bratislava will follow standard operation in the Workday – School Year regime as of March 28, apart from lines 50, 75 and 7. All passengers will be able to enter through the front door and they will have to push the button to embark or disembark. (TASR)
  • More than 32,000 vacancies in Slovakia can be filled by foreigners, according to the Labour Ministry. These are positions that have not been filled due to the low interest of Slovak jobseekers – mostly jobs requiring lower qualification, without the need to speak the language.
  • The Convergences music festival kicks off today in Bratislava. The opening concert will take place in the Primate’s Palace at 19:00. Check the official website for more information along with the programme.

More on Spectator.sk today:

Why the arrested spies are close to far-right parties Read more 

EU’s Unshell Directive could be improved to freeze Russian oligarchs' assets more efficiently Read more 

Slovakia is one place where Putin will first look to test western resolve Read more 

If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.

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