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Slovakian report Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-10-11 07:45:53
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Euro success Slovakia torn over saving currency zone

The Volkswagen, Peugeot and Kia car plants along the main highway illustrate Slovakia's transformation from ex-communist backwater to euro zone success, the world's top auto maker per capita. They also explain its dilemma over Greece. No strangers to privations and harsh economic reform, Slovaks are divided over whether their government should agree to increasing the powers of the fund set up to help Greece and other euro zone countries that have lived beyond their means. So laborious is EU decision-making, that one dissenting voice among the 17 countries that use the euro could wreck the latest plan. It's a debate the rest of the world is following with concern.

Should Slovakia, the single currency's second poorest member, pay for countries like Greece, which borrowed too much, fudged data and spurned the thorough economic reforms that Slovaks endured to join the euro in 2009? "The Greeks have big pensions and retire early. I'll have to work until I'm 65 to help pay off the loans that our government will have to take out to pay for Greece's mistakes," said Dana Antasova, a 31-year-old economist on maternity leave in the north Slovak city Poprad. "I'm really mad. They stole everything, and now they want money from us?" The reason for resentment is clear. Salaries in the country of 5.4 million average only 780 Euros a month -- just a tad over a minimum wage of 750 Euros a month in Greece -- and mothers like Antasova live off of a subsidy of just 11 Euros a day.

Polls show Slovaks are split evenly over whether Prime Minister Iveta Radicova's government should ratify the expansion of the European Financial Stability Facility, the euro zone's bailout fund for countries in crisis. A rebel party in the ruling coalition, the liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), is threatening to vote against on Oct. 11. But while many people agree with SaS and say Greece should be allowed to go bankrupt, they are also worried that a Slovak "no" could prompt another global recession and threaten an economy that is mainly driven by exports to euro zone partners.


Slovakia withdraws from Eurovision 2012

The program director of the Slovak broadcaster RTVS, Andrej Miklánek, has confirmed that the central European country will not participate in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. According to Mr Miklánek, the state television will focus on producing other entertainment shows.

Slovak broadcaster RTVS will not be in Baku next year. According to Slovak news website medialne.sk, they want to use the money for other purposes: "We promise that we will prepare more interesting shows than the Eurovision Song Contest. We will broadcast Legends of pop soon, and after that, other big show in spring", program director of RTVS Andrej Miklánek declared.

Nearly one year ago, it was unclear whether Slovakia would participate in Eurovision 2011. RTVS decided to withdraw from Eurovision by the end of 2010, but still they submitted application to the EBU and in fact were included in the official list of participating countries for 2011. The intention of pulling out of the contest was confirmed on January 7th, in the frame of the merger between the television and radio services and financial problems. In the end, Slovakia decided to remain in the Eurovision family rather than withdrawing and subsequently paying a fine.


Slovakia sets vote date as parties seek accord on EFSF

Slovakia’s ruling parties set Oct. 11 for a parliamentary vote on an overhaul of the euro area’s bailout mechanism as they seek an agreement to ensure passage of the bloc’s main defence to keep a debt crisis from spreading.

The governing Freedom and Solidarity party, or SaS, whose votes the Cabinet needs to retain a majority in parliament, continues to oppose the measures, Bela Bugar, head of the Most party, told reporters late yesterday. Without SaS, Premier Iveta Radicova will need support from Smer, the largest opposition party, which has said it will only back the legislation if the Cabinet steps down.

“We don’t have an agreement yet,” Bugar said after a meeting of leaders in the four-party coalition in the capital Bratislava. Negotiations with SaS will continue, he added. Slovakia’s support for the European Financial Stabilization Facility, which must be ratified by all 17 members of the euro area, is seen as the most questionable among the three still to endorse enhancement of the bailout agreement. The European Commission has urged Slovakia to back the legislation. Malta and the Netherlands also have yet to ratify the EFSF.

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