Slovakia is the last EU Member State without a single mosque, TRT World reports. Previous attempts to build have been halted by politicians.
The country does not recognise Islam as a religion and only have a few thousand Muslim residents. Islam must not be taught in schools and the 5,000 Muslims, mostly European ones, who reside in the country are not officially recognised. They account for only 0.1% of the population.
In 2007, politicians changed the country’s laws so that 20,000 signatures from members were required to be recognised by the state. In 2017 they more than doubled the number of necessary signatures.
Not being officially recognised poses major difficulties for the group. Among other things, they are not allowed to have official religious leaders, conduct Muslim marriages or receive financial contributions from the State, rights which 18 other recognised religions have.
According to some of the country’s politicians, Islam is a serious threat.
“Islamisation begins with kebab and in Bratislava it has already begun. So understand what it could be like in 5-10 years,” says MP Andrej Danko.
“Every normal European, Christian or atheist fears this satanic pedophile creation of the devil,” rumbles another critical MP.
According to TRT, the situation was further complicated for the country’s Muslims in connection with the 2015 asylum wave. Slovakia then used the absence of mosques as an argument not to accept any migrants.
The TV channel also claims that Slovakia violates EU rights laws by not permitting the building of mosques.
Slovakia’s gemologists have revealed a diamond certification fraud. An inferior diamond in a ring was accompanied with a certificate for a different gem of higher value.
This case does not have to be isolated, Martin Mikuš, head of the Slovak Gemological Institute, told the TASR newswire.
This type of fraud is more of a threat than the ones that have occurred before, Mikuš said. While in the past a natural gem was directly replaced by a synthetic one or synthetic gems were added to a natural one, now the diamond had a false number of the original gem with certification branded on it.
“A laser-branded number has been used as reliable identification proving a diamond’s authenticity and certification till now,” Mikuš explained, as quoted by TASR.
American gemologists warned against this type of fraud last year. However, it is the first time it is revealed in Slovakia.
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovakia’s ruling Smer party won regional elections this weekend but saw support shrink in the wake of the killing of an investigative journalist that prompted mass protests and led long-serving prime minister Robert Fico to resign in March.
The leftist Smer party won mayorships in 592 of Slovakia’s 2,919 towns and cities, losing 255 towns since the 2014 regional election, final results published by the Statistics Office showed on Sunday.
President Andrej Kiska, who is unaffiliated with any party and who sided with protesters calling for Fico’s ouster, said people in many parts of Slovakia voted for change.
“The appetite for a change in the style of politics is a promise for upcoming presidential, European Union and general elections.”
Slovakia has seen living standards jump among its 5.4 million people, thanks to strong economic growth driven by automotive production. But many complain about perceived public corruption often involving well-connected businesspeople.
Most towns will now be governed by independent candidates who won 42.4 percent of the vote, in some cases unseating long-term Smer politicians.
The Slovak capital Bratislava and two major cities saw victories for candidates supported by the protest movement ‘For a Decent Slovakia.’ The movement organised the biggest protests in Slovakia’s post-communist history this spring.
Reporter Jan Kuciak, who had been investigating political corruption and EU subsidy fraud by business people with alleged links to the government, was shot along with his fiancee at home in February in what prosecutors say was a contract killing.
Four people so far have been charged with the murder but the police are still investigating who ordered the hit.
Two junior coalition parties – centre-right Slovak National Party (SNS) and ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid party – gained 119 and 40 mayors respectively.
Parliamentary opposition parties each won less than one percent of mayors. Turnout stood at 48.7 percent, the same as four years ago.
A latest opinion poll by Focus agency has shown Smer would win the next general election in 2020 but not be able to hold a parliamentary majority with its current coalition partners.
“Smer is still the strongest party… but it is on a downward path and we don’t hear any critical voices from within the party that could change the trend,” Marian Lesko, a political analyst with Trend weekly told Reuters.
Kiska, a popular, respected figure said he would not seek re-election in 2019 but will remain active in politics. He did not rule out setting up a new political party and running in 2020.
Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Alexandra Hudson
BRATISLAVA, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) — The minimum wage in Slovakia will rise from current 480 euros (545 U.S.dollars) to 520 euro (591 U.S. dollars) next year. according to a government decree signed by Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini to this effect on Monday.
At the same time, Pellegrini stressed that Slovakia’s economy is doing well, the government will hold talks with social partners on further hikes of the minimum wage in the future.
“With this step we continue to significantly increase the minimum wage, and our goal is to have a minimum wage reaching at least 60 percent of the average salary in the national economy in the future. On the other hand, as the prime minister I want fewer and fewer people to work for the minimum wage in Slovakia,” said Pellegrini.
The minimum wage will exceed 500 euros (568 U.S.dollars) for the first time in Slovakia’s history.
Transport Minister Árpád Érsek proposes renting Bratislava airport to a concessionaire for 30 years, the SITA newswire wrote.
It cited a draft public-private partnership project for selecting a concessionaire for the operation of M.R. Štefánik Airport in Bratislava (BTS), which his department submitted on October 26 for a fast-tracked interdepartmental review.
The expedited review should be closed as early as on November 2, as the Ministry claims, there is an urgent need to carry out further actions resulting from the project as well as the entire procedure of selecting a concessionaire. According to the proposed schedule, the concession agreement could come into force as soon as 2021.
The document mentions a concession for a strategic partner in the form of a public-private partnership as about the best option for the future of the largest Slovak international airport.
The Ministry expects that this step will secure the long-term sustainable development of the airport, with the State benefiting from it, alongside the investor, the Sme daily reported.
The concession should minimise threats connected with the ownership and operation of the airport, while certain control and strategic assets will remain with the State, the ministry argues.
“The variant involving the rental of the airport to a foreign partner has been discussed repeatedly, and ultimately, this option has been shown to be the best and most advantageous for the State,” Érsek said, as quoted by Sme. “I believe it will help make the biggest Slovak international airport – with a strategic position within Europe – visible. I am sure that thanks to sufficient investments which the State cannot render to the airport, its prestige and quality of service can improve, and it can attract new airline operators.”
The Transport Ministry elaborated a feasibility study which explored several options such as development by current management, or granting the concession to a strategic partner.
The documents ultimately find a strategic partner to be the best solution, with the State acquiring an extra €61 million, and a higher residential value for BTS when it is returned.
The conclusion of the concession is expected by June 2020, after a public tender. Its subject should be the operation, maintenance and development of Bratislava airport, while the runways and the connected infrastructure should remain in the ownership of BTS, according to Sme.
“By implementing the project of public-private-partnership in the form of granting a concession, the long-term sustainable development of M. R. Štefánik Airport will be secured,” the ministry predicts, as cited by Sme. “The precondition is that the strategic partner improves the competitive position of BTS in the region and increases the offer and quality of the airport services.”
29. Oct 2018 at 14:18 | COMPILED BY SPECTATOR STAFF
BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovakia has threatened to freeze relations with Vietnam over the case of a Vietnamese businessman who Germany says was kidnapped by Vietnamese agents and smuggled back home through Slovakia, the Slovak foreign ministry said on Saturday.
German prosecutors have said businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh, who had sought asylum in Germany, was abducted in a Berlin street by Vietnamese secret service agents and taken back to Vietnam, where he was tried and jailed for life.
The alleged incident took place during a visit to Slovakia by Vietnamese public security minister To Lam in July 2017.
Slovakia’s foreign minister met with his Vietnamese counterpart on the sidelines of a UN general assembly meeting last month seeking an explanation but the country has yet to hear back from Hanoi, the ministry said.
“We haven’t yet received a reply from Vietnam,” the ministry said in a statement. Minister Miroslav Lajcak said that unless Hanoi provided a credible explanation of how the kidnapped (Vietnamese) citizen got to Vietnam, bilateral relations between the countries would be frozen.
“Slovakia is a serious state and will draw resolute diplomatic consequences if the suspicions that Vietnam is facing prove to be true.”
The case has also soured relations between Germany and Vietnam and prompted Germany to accuse Vietnam of breaching international law. A German court in July sentenced a Vietnamese man to three years and 10 months in jail after he confessed to helping his country’s secret services kidnap Thanh.
Slovakia sought to distance itself from the incident following a report in Dennik N alleging Thanh was taken in a van from Berlin via Prague to Bratislava, where he was added to the Vietnamese minister’s delegation and left on a Slovak government plane.
Former interior minister Robert Kalinak in August denied any involvement in the kidnapping, calling the media report “science-fiction”.
Slovakia’s competitiveness dropped slightly compared with last year. The country placed 41st in the Global Competitiveness Report 2018, with an overall score of 67 points. It was two places down compared to the previous report.
The report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), assessed the competitiveness landscape of 140 economies.
“Slovakia’s position slightly worsened even though our overall score has improved slightly,” said Peter Serina, executive director of the Business Alliance of Slovakia (PAS), WEF’s partner organisation. “We were overtaken by countries that improved the conditions for doing business and economic growth more significantly than Slovakia.”
Slovakia’s foreign trade produced a deficit of €81.7 million in August 2018, which is a drop of €23.1 million year-on-year, the Statistics Office reported on October 9.
Total exports amounted to €6.248 billion, up by 5.8 percent y-o-y, while total imports increased by 5.3 percent to reach €6.330 billion, the TASR newswire wrote.
In the January to August period, exports grew 7.5 percent y-o-y to €51.641 billion and imports rose 7.4 percent y-o-y to €49.851 billion. Thus, Slovakia reported an eight-month trade balance surplus of €1.79 billion, up €149.6 million from the same period of last year.
Eight-month exports to other EU-member countries were up by 8.2 percent y-o-y to equal 85.7 percent of Slovakia’s overall exports. Conversely, imports from EU countries comprised 67.8 percent of overall imports, up by 9.2 percent y-o-y.
Exports outside the EU countries swelled by 3.5 percent y-o-y in the January-August period to account for 14.3 percent of the country’s overall exports, according to TASR. Meanwhile, imports from non-EU countries increased by 4 percent in the same period to make up 32.2 percent of imports.
Machinery and transport devices – as the most traded items – made up 59.8 percent of all exports and 47.9 percent of overall imports in the first eight months of this year.
After seasonal adjustments, overall exports reached €6.640 billion (up by 5.8 percent y-o-y), with overall imports reaching €6.458 billion (up by 5.2 percent), thus posting a surplus of €182.6 million (42.3 million up y-o-y).
Foreign trade was expected to drop into negative in August 2018, but the volume of deficit was milder than foreseen, Ľubomír Koršňák, macroeconomic market analyst of the UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia, wrote in a press release.
The balance of foreign trade usually worsens in summer due to summer holiday production shutdowns in plants, he added. This year, a higher deficit resulting from “advance imports” of supplies connected to new production in autumn (especially in the Nitra plant of the Jaguar Land Rover carmaker) has not materialised so far.
Nevertheless, the growth of turnover in foreign trade has lagged behind the strong figures from July, and partially confirmed the hypothesis that compared to 2017, some summer holidays were postponed to August. Both exports and imports were reduced after a seasonal adjustment, and this has resulted in a considerable slow-down of the dynamics of their year-on-year growth, the analyst points out.
On the other hand, exports partially maintained high dynamic growth thanks to the acceleration of y-o-y growth of export prices in the past two months. The growth dynamics of exports have probably slightly slowed-down in reality, even though it has still remained relatively strong, according to Koršňák.
The faster growth of imports is greatly connected with price factors, mostly more expensive crude oil.
In the upcoming few months, a strong domestic demand – both the import of technologies for new car plant and the higher industrial deliveries before the start of production – should affect imports and temporarily worsen the balance of foreign trade. Then new export capacities in the country should considerably encourage the growth of exports – although they may partially be reflected in imports, due to the bigger imports of materials and goods for production.
On the other hand, the cyclic slowdown of growth in Europe could dampen the growth of machinery and electric devices exports. However, the effect of strong automotive growth should prevail, and foreign trade surpluses should start expanding considerably again from the end of the year.
A possible risk for foreign trade remains the potential trade war between the EU and the USA, or the hard Brexit, both being mostly felt by the automotive industry in Slovakia, directly as well as indirectly, Koršňák sums up.
9. Oct 2018 at 13:22 | COMPILED BY SPECTATOR STAFF
Slovakia’s state prosecutor has charged three people with the premeditated murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in February, a spokeswoman said on September 28.
The three people were detained in a house raid on September 27.
Five others detained in the same raid have been released, the spokeswoman said.
Jan Kuciak was found shot dead along with Martina Kusnirova at their home near the capital, Bratislava, in February. They were both 27.
The authorities have said they believed it was a contract killing linked to Kuciak’s work.
The journalist was investigating political corruption at the time of the slayings, which triggered the biggest street protests in Slovakia since the fall of communism in 1989 and a political crisis that led to the fall of former Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government in March.
both lanes of the Višňové highway tunnel near Žilina have finally been bored through. The ceremonial blasting of the final stretch of the second lane took place on September 6 while the first lane has been passable since August 28. The construction consortium presented the bores on September 13. Construction Minister Árpád Érsek (Most-Híd) did not attend the ceremony, sending only the message that there is no reason for celebration.
Both lanes of the Višňové highway tunnel near Žilina have finally been bored through. The ceremonial blasting of the final stretch of the second lane took place on September 6 while the first lane has been passable since August 28. The construction consortium presented the bores on September 13. Construction Minister Árpád Érsek (Most-Híd) did not attend the ceremony, sending only the message that there is no reason for celebration.
“The tunnel has been subject to a nine-month delay,” said Karolína Ducká, spokesperson of the Construction Ministry, as cited by the Hospodárske Noviny, adding that even longer delays hover over other goals of this project.
Thousands of people from all over Slovakia and abroad, wearing traditional Slovak folk costumes, met at SNP Square in Banská Bystrica on September 8 to celebrate the first Folk Costume Day.
“I’ve come to Banská Bystrica in a folk costume from the Horehronie area … I hope that Folk Costume Day will become a wonderful tradition …. enabling us to remember the wonderful cultural heritage that we’ve inherited from our ancestors,” Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, a native of Banská Bystrica, who took part in the event told the TASR newswire.
Folk Costume Day was organised by Slovenka (Slovak Woman) magazine in cooperation with the city of Banská Bystrica and the Slovak Towns and Villages Association. Several Slovak folk ensembles took part in the three-hour programme.
Better living standards and higher salaries, a decent and fair country and greater protection of nature are the most important goals with which Robert Mistrík wants to enter next year’s presidential elections. He officially announced his bid on Monday as an independent candidate. He has to gather at least 15,000 signatures in support of this candidacy. A chemist by profession, Mistrík co-founded the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) political party in 2009 but left it three years later.
15. 06. 2018 14:00
The Art Film Fest, presenting not only the most recent international as well as Slovak cinematography production, begins in the eastern Slovak city of Košice on Friday. Its sections include two international competitions; one of feature and one of short film, both primarily oriented towards filmmakers early in their careers, being only a director’s debut, second or third film. Besides watching films, festival-goers will have the chance to participate in various workshops, discussions and concerts. The Art Film Fest will be finished on Sunday, June 25, with the ceremony announcing the winners of 5 categories.
Prosecutor-General Jaromír Čižnár promised farmers that he would investigate their cases directly at the Prosecutor-General’s Office, stated representatives of the farmers’ initiative after meeting with the prosecutor general in Bratislava on Thursday. The district and regional prosecutor’s offices should thus be excluded from the investigation. Farmers are seeking a review of procedures carried out by law enforcement bodies in specific criminal cases. “The promise made by the Prosecutor-General’s Office was that these specific criminal cases would be immediately requested by the Prosecutor-General’s Office and would be examined directly by a prosecutor at the Prosecutor-General’s Office,” said the Prosecutor-General’s Office spokesperson Andrea Predajňová.
03. 05. 2018 14:02
“Freedom of speech and the right to information are among the basic principles of democracy. Without the free work of journalists, a democratic society or a rule of law cannot exist,” said Slovak Ombudswoman Mária Patakyová on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, which is May 3rd. She added that in order to protect fundamental human rights it is necessary to pay more attention to the safety and security of journalists. Meanwhile a group of actors and about 190 journalists from a variety of media outlets marked the day by expressing support for journalists of the public broadcaster RTVS, which is the mother company of Radio Slovakia International. A series of resignations and dismissals have taken place in recent weeks following disagreements between journalists and part of the management. On Wednesday a spokesperson for RTVS Erika Rusnáková said that the broadcaster has a legally elected general manager and an appointed management that works for the benefit of the public.
02. 05. 2018 14:38
I’ll try to make the number of people earning the minimum wage lower every year, stated Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) during Labour Day celebrations in Žilina on Tuesday, which were organised by Slovak and Czech trade unionists. “This isn’t only a holiday marking Labour Day, but I’m glad that today’s May 1 is also the day when things that will improve the working conditions for people working in Slovakia are coming into force. The things we promised a year ago in Nitra and today, they are a reality,” said the premier, referring to the hikes in bonuses for working at night, at weekends and during holidays. All these changes are part of an amendment to the Labour Code that has come into force on May 1. The Czech and Slovak unions in Žilina criticised the level of salaries which are significantly lower than salaries in western countries.