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Slovakian report Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-01-31 07:29:57
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Hackers from Anonymous group say they shut down websites in Slovakia

The official websites of Slovakia’s Government Office and the Economy Ministry were inaccessible for a couple of hours on the evening of January 28 evening after apparently being hacked by the Anonymous movement. Earlier the group said it had hacked the webpage of Prima Banka (former Dexia Banka) that is owned by the Penta financial group as well as the internet site of the civic association 99 percent, the TASR newswire reported. The group said that it had attacked the sites in order to demonstrate its disapproval of the international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which is aimed at enforcing copyrights and dealing with counterfeit products.

“This agreement will limit our rights and freedoms,” stated the representatives of the Anonymous movement, as quoted by TASR. “It will lead to more censorship of the internet. Downloading copies will be illegal, and customs officers will be allowed to look through the files on your computers.”

After the hackers attacked the sites, the Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party expressed its negative stance towards the new agreement, saying that if the agreement violates the basic rights and freedoms of the individual, they will not support it. The new treaty has also been criticised by the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) who said they would like to discuss the measure.


Slovakia urges quick euro zone bailout activation

The euro zone-wide downgrade by Standard & Poor's highlights the need to quickly activate the bloc's permanent bailout mechanism (ESM, Slovak Finance Minister Ivan Miklos said on Thursday. Single currency area finance ministers will debate the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), seen as central to fighting the debt crisis, on Monday and are expected to remove the last obstacles and submit the agreement for ratification in member countries. "This rating downgrade decision will be a very clear stimulus for a quick activation of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)," Miklos told reporters.

Miklos said last week's S&P move, which stripped France and Austria of their top-notch ratings, should not harm the lending capacity of the temporary European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) aid mechanism for ongoing programmes. "I assume that even after the downgrade the (EFSF) capacity should be sufficient for running programmes," Miklos said. "There should be no problems, unless new big programmes emerge."

He said he hoped the combined lending capacity of the new European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and the EFSF would not exceed 500 billion euros ($640.8 billion) as currently designed. "It would not be ideal to exceed it," he said. Miklos also said he supports the IMF's idea of more than doubling its war chest by raising $600 billion in new resources to help countries deal with the fallout of the euro zone debt crisis. ($1 = 0.7802 euros) (Reporting by Martin Santa)


Allow euro members to leave

Europe has to weigh all scenarios for saving the euro, including the possibility of allowing member states to break away from the currency union, Slovak Finance Minister Ivan Miklos said Thursday. "It'd be ideal to save the euro [and the euro-zone] in its current composition without any additional costs for bailing out Greece," Mr. Miklos said in an interview. "But the question is whether it will be possible to keep the euro zone in its existing full set-up." Slovakia is one of the 17 European Union countries sharing the euro and in the past has been a critic of costly financial bailout packages for countries running into fiscal trouble, which have included Greece, Portugal and Ireland. European leaders have to assess alternatives with the aim of preventing any specter of the euro ceasing to exist, even if that requires one or more countries to leave. "Keeping and safeguarding the euro is crucially important for me and it is in the interest of Slovakia," Mr. Miklos said.

EU leaders are focusing on pulling together a new €130 billion ($165.18 billion) rescue package for Greece, which has warned that it will run out of cash in March without more aid. The sum is to include debt forgiveness by Greece's private-sector creditors. Last October Slovakia's center-right coalition government, which includes the conservative Slovak Christian Democratic Union party, or SDKU-DS, co-chaired by Mr. Miklos, lost a parliamentary vote of confidence over its support for increasing the bailout fund for Greece. The vote opened the way for early general elections, scheduled for March 10. "All these issues related to the Greek bailout funding will have to be resolved in the next six months and the mandate of this government is the next two months," he said, declining to comment on whether it will be necessary to increase the funding for saving Greece's public finances beyond the €130 billion package agreed by Greece's creditors in October. "I don't want to comment on this yet because it's all currently under discussion and should be resolved by the end of January."

However, euro-zone leaders must ensure that the common currency survives, which involves assessing the costs of all alternatives on how to achieve this, he said. "Because the collapse of the euro would be a catastrophe not only for Europe but for the whole world [...] on the other hand saving [the euro zone] in its current form isn't a reasonable solution either," Mr. Miklos said. "There'll be a legitimate debate on how and what kind of euro is necessary and possible to save." Mr. Miklos declined to say if reducing the number of euro-area members is an ideal solution for the sovereign-debt crisis. "I don't want to speculate about this," he said, adding that, however, such an option has to be assessed. On Greek bailout funding specifically, Mr. Miklos said it is necessary to get a cool-headed assessment from experts whether Athens can fulfill its obligations. "It isn't only about whether we're willing to give more money but it's also an issue whether it makes any sense and if it's realistic to expect [Greece] to meet its goals," Mr. Miklos said.

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