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Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-07-27 11:48:35
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People in Slovakia work four hours to cover basic shopping expenses

A Slovak earning an average wage has to work almost four hours to do common shopping worth €20, according to a Poštová Banka analysis. In the analysis, the bank based its calculation on the average gross wage according to the data of the Slovak Statistics Office, earned in 20 working days in a month with eight-hour workdays.

“For one €20 banknote, we can put in our basket, for example, flour, bread, meat and meat products, milk, butter, cheese, eggs, apples and also chocolate or beer,” the SITA newswire quotes the analysis. Analysts with Poštová Banka also say that if we buy more expensive products, the amount of time worked to pay for it is longer. For example, to buy things for €50, a Slovak with an average wage has to spend 9 hours and 45 minutes at work, while shopping for €100 requires twice as much.

Analysts also say that the inevitable working time is also prolonged in the case of people who earn less than the average wage, which is the case for many Slovaks. For instance, those who earn a gross wage of €500, have to work almost 6.5 hours to be able to do €20 of shopping.


Slovakia ‘not obsessed with sanctions’, but will support EU, says Lajčák

Recent developments in Ukraine and the shooting down of the Malaysian civilian aircraft resonated at the meeting of the European Union’s foreign ministers, held on July 22 in Brussels. “We concurred that the top priorities at the moment are the need to ensure a dignified process of identification of bodies and their return to home states; unimpeded and full access to the crash site and an objective investigation into the circumstances of the crash,” Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajčák said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. The ministers declared that the case of the downed MH-17 flight represents a tragic peak in the developments in eastern Ukraine over the past months, during which a number of Ukrainian aircraft were shot down.

The ministerial council claimed emphatically that such attacks need to stop and called upon Russia to use its influence on the insurgents to secure access to the crash site and to allow for an independent investigation. Furthermore, the ministers called upon Russia not to allow the Russo-Ukrainian border to be used for supplying weapons and ammunition as well as the arrival of militants. “If these conditions and expectations, as defined by EU leaders, are not met, the EU is ready to embrace further sanctions,” said Lajčák, as quoted by TASR.

He added, however, that Slovakia does not belong among those countries engaging in ill-advised shouting of “hurray, let’s apply sanctions”. The country supports all measures to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, stop the civil war and prevent further civilian losses. Any potential sanctions, however, need to be assessed in terms of their negative impact on the EU and its members, Lajčák stressed. “Slovakia is ready to be part of the European decision to apply further sanctions but, as I already said today, everyone needs to shoulder their part of their negative impact,” the minister added. “This means we should not make rash decisions.” According to Lajčák, Slovakia is “not obsessed with sanctions” and any such measures must not be a goal in themselves but only a means to resolve the situation in Ukraine.  He conceded, though, that if political talks fail and one of the parties does not honour the commitments agreed upon at international negotiations, then the EU has no choice but to resort to sanctions.


Slovakia’s debt reached historic high in March

The debt of Slovakia reached its highest level ever in the first quarter of the year. It stood at 58.4 percent of GDP, which amounts to €42.3 billion, the Eurostat statistics office informed. Regarding the country’s commitments to the European Union as well as investors, it will be more important, however, to see what the debt will be at the end of the year, the Sme daily reported in its July 23 issue. At the end of last year, public administration debt stood at 55.4 percent. Since it exceeded 55 percent, the government had to apply the debt brake, meaning it had to freeze 3 percent of budget expenditures, i.e. about €305 million.

During the first three months of 2014, the debt rose to more than 58 percent, mostly due to the state using advantageous conditions on the market and borrowing money, the Finance Ministry explained. “By the end of 2014, we expect a gradual drop in debt,” the ministry claimed. The government hopes to keep the debt slightly above 55 percent by December. It plans to remove the agency for emergency reserves of oil from the state finances, and also decrease the cash reserve.

On the other hand, the debt might be negatively affected by economic growth in the second half of the year, in addition to prices and the deficit, said Andrej Arady, analyst with VÚB bank.  Moreover, Eurostat’s methodology is also set to change in the autumn. Yet, if it does not change the way it calculates GDP, Slovak debt would surely increase compared to economic performance, Sme wrote. If the debt does not fall below 57 percent, the government will have to prepare a balanced budget for next year, as stipulated by the law on budgetary responsibility.

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Emanuel Paparella2014-07-27 14:02:27
The statement above by Foreign Minister of Slovakia Miroslav Jajcak can perhaps be best described as a masterpiece of ambiguity. It is predictable that it will duly be exploited by Vladimir Putin who is good at dividing and conquering and finding Achille's heel in geo-political opponents. In his former days in the KGB he learned all the tricks in the book, all the Machiavellian intricacies of real politic and geo-political strategy. After all he considers himself a good chess player on the world stage, proud of his skills as a judo practitioner. The first pastime is useful to plan the strategy for the envisioned so called “greater Russia” aiming at restoration of the glory days of the Soviet Union; the second is useful for turning the weakness of one’s opponent to one’s advantage; in judo, the whole trick is to turn the very energy and thrust of the adversary against him. For example, the other day he held a conference where he reassured the Russian people that Russia is ready should NATO invade Russia and all its armed forces are on the alert and ready to repel the aggressors. That kind of table turning is a gem in Machiavellian geo-political chess playing Putin has observed that the EU in particular and the West in general is long on rhetoric about national sovereignty, common defenses and common ideals, but short on action and commitment, in making the necessary economic sacrifices to carry out common deliberations and decisions with one clear voice. To be sure, some in the EU Council remember well the historical lesson that to appease a bully now is to have to pay a much steeper price in blood and treasure later. Others, alas, for whatever reasons, seem to be afflicted by amnesia in this regard and remain to be persuaded; thus abetting Putin’s geo-political strategic goals. History will have the last word on this conundrum, as it always does.

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