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Slovakian report Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2010-01-14 08:21:46
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Freight transporters protest against problems in new road tolling system

The Slovak lorry drivers continue their protesting action against problems accompanying the introduction of the new electronic road-tolling system. In effect since January 1, lorries of more than 3.5 tonnes have to pay for using motorways, highways and some sections of first-class roads in Slovakia using the new electronic road-toll system. However, the introduction of the system unveiled multiple mistakes in tolling and problems in system operation. Big numbers of lorries got stuck in long jams on Slovak borders from Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

Slovak Government representatives tried to hide errors and mistakes in new tolling system for days, and only after protests and warnings of international transport companies they must finally agree that system is not ready completely. All previous protests of Slovak transporters were ignored. By blocking important roads with their lorries, Slovak carriers wanted to express their discontent over the running of the newly-introduced system. The protest evoked traffic jams in major cities over Slovakia. The Slovak police began to sanction and intimidate protesting drivers. Road-carriers ask the Government and Prime Minister Robert Fico personally to meet and discuss the problems in tolling system. The meeting with Prime Minister should take place on Monday morning, but only on Premier's condition that protests are discontinued.

Slovak Road Transporters Union decided to stop all blocking actions in all cities in order to meet the Prime Minister's conditions. Since Thursday morning, the only place partially blocked by lorries remains one of Bratislava's traffic arteries - Roznavska Street. "I firmly hope that we'll be accepted by Prime Minister Robert Fico and that we'll discuss the issues that concern all of us in a proper way," said Jaroslav Polacek from the Association of Slovak Hauliers (UNAS). The Slovak drivers in most cases support protesters, even though the lorries blocking roads made traffic complications. People in Bratislava express their support verbally and bring food to protesters staying on the street.

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Kalinak no longer legitimate interior minister for us

Slovakia's Interior Minister Robert Kalinak is no longer a legitimate minister for the main opposition party SDKU-DS, the party's law, order and justice team leader Lucia Zitnanska said at a press conference in Bratislava on Friday. According to former Slovakia's justice minister Zitnanska, SDKU-DS is calling on Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico to dismiss Kalinak over the scandal over the (miss) placing of explosives in the luggage of an unwitting passengers. The botched police operation was been a blow to Slovakia's reputation abroad, and SDKU-DS wants Fico to dismiss Kalinak in order to restore Slovakia's reputation.

"I think Kalinak has lost any kind of credit to remain on his post. Thursday's press conference was the last drop. Rather than admitting his failure and apologise to the citizens of Slovakia, he blamed everybody else - starting with opposition, one policeman and the police sniffer dog will be blamed in the end," said Zitnanska. SDKU-DS MP and former defence minister Martin Fedor pointed out that after the scandal with the explosives Slovakia has gained worldwide attention as a country where things are hidden and lied about. "This may be one of the last chances when the minister can restore such a mistake, right now we can still save our reputation," thinks Fedor. 

He views the decision of the Slovak police to include unsuspecting civilians in training not as a mistake, but as a system failure. The same is applied to the fact that nobody misses explosives for several days, which are boarded on plane and flown abroad. "The only failure of an individual we can see is that of Mr. Kalinak," concluded Fedor. The Opposition is willing to negotiate on further steps concerning this case next week. In connection with this, Zitnanska pondered whether it makes sense to initiate extraordinary session of Parliament in order to initiate a no-confidence vote in Kalinak five months before the elections.

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Legal proposals on proving origin of property


Vice-chair of the Christian Democrats (KDH) Daniel Lipsic told a press conference on Tuesday that he is about to submit a legal proposal on proving the origin of property to Parliament, as well as a constitutional amendment proposal that would enable the act to be passed. Prime Minister Robert Fico announced a similar intention on Monday - with a proposal that concerns property that exceeds 1,000- or 1,500-times (€300,000 or €450,000) the minimum monthly salary and was acquired after the year 1990.

Lipsic's proposal concerns property exceeding 500-times the minimum monthly salary, with no time limits on acquisition included. "If there is a time limit, it will be nothing more than a political spectacle," stressed Lipsic, arguing that it wouldn't be difficult to bypass the law if a time limit were introduced. If Fico excluded the disputed point, Lipsic wouldn't rule out supporting the Government's legislation. "I don't care who claims the credit or who calls the first press conference," he said. According to Lipsic's proposal, it would be possible based on an official initiative to look into whether a physical or legal entity would have been able to acquire a certain amount of property within a given period of time via legal activities. "The first selection of complaints will be looked into by the financial police. If it is believed that the difference between the value of the property and legal incomes is higher than €150,000, the case will be passed to the Prosecutor's Office," said the former justice minister.

If the Office finds the financial police's move justified, it will call on the person in question to provide a deposit equalling the value of property that may have been acquired from illegal sources. Then the person would be obliged to prove that the property concerned could have been acquired legally. "If the person doesn't provide evidence within five years that the property came from legal sources, it will be confiscated to the state's benefit," said Lipsic, stressing that this is not a retrospective law, as the legality of property will only be assessed under legislation valid at the time when it was acquired.


      
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