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Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-09-20 14:30:17
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Dual citizenship ban

The Slovak Constitutional Court's (ÚS) verdict, announced today, preserves the validity of the controversial law with which the current government of Robert Fico practically abolished the possibility of the country's inhabitants having dual state citizenship in 2010. The dual citizenship issue caused a rift between Slovakia and Hungary after the latter made it possible for its compatriots abroad to gain Hungarian citizenship without having a permanent residence in the country. Bratislava reacted by tightening its citizenship law, justifying it by the fear that members of the Hungarian minority, who form about 8.5 percent the country's 5 million inhabitants, would seek Hungarian citizenship en masse. According to previous statistics of the Slovak Interior Ministry, hundreds of Slovaks lost Slovak citizenship over the dual citizenship ban. It often happened after they become citizens of the Czech Republic.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic formed the joint Czechoslovak state until its division Jan. 1, 1993. Experts, however, say it would be difficult to ascertain the real number of Slovaks who have gained citizenship of another country. Slovaks are obliged to report this under the threat of being fined, but the state allegedly only has limited possibilities of uncovering dual citizenship. The ÚS was dealing with the controversial citizenship law amendment for three years. Opposition lawmaker Gábor Gál, who submitted the proposal to abolish the law to the ÚS, said he will turn to the European Human Rights Court in reaction to the ÚS verdict, according to media.

Slovakia announced last year it had prepared an amendment to the state citizenship law, but it has not yet been passed. The amendment extends the possibility of acquiring dual citizenship for inhabitants who have lived abroad for some time and have a permanent residence there. In this case the Slovaks would not lose their Slovak citizenship. Currently, an exception is only granted to those who acquire another citizenship by birth or marriage. When passing the valid law, the government coalition headed by Fico was inspired by the then-valid Czech legislation. However, since then, the Czech Chamber of Deputies has passed a state citizenship law that introduced dual citizenship.


The least affected by Russian embargo

For Slovakia, the Russian ban on imports of agricultural products from the European Union will entail an annual loss of about six million Euros. This means it will be one of the least affected member states. The only EU countries which will be less affected are Luxembourg, where annual losses will amount to around 5 million Euros, and Romania, where losses have been estimated at just one million Euros.

The greatest losses, according to published statistics, will correspond to Lithuania, with up to 922 million Euro, and Poland, with 840 million. Other countries also significantly affected by the embargo include Germany, where losses on the basis of last year's data are estimated at 589 million Euros, or the neighbouring Netherlands, with around 503 million Euros. 

On a similar level with Slovakia we find Croatia (7 million Euros) and Bulgaria (8 million Euros). Meanwhile, losses for the Czech Republic are estimated at 11 million, and more deeply affected will be Hungary, with 77 million, and Austria, which will be estimated to lose approximately 103 million Euros.


Slovakia makes offers to NATO

Amid a politically charged discourse over the crisis in eastern Ukraine and its implications for regional security, with Prime Minister Robert Fico offering an interpretation that the conflict represents a geopolitical fight for influence between Russia and the United States, Slovakia has made concrete offers to its partners in NATO on how the country could contribute to facing the current challenges. The list that Slovak state officials tabled at the NATO summit in Newport, Wales on September 5 includes a logistics base in Poprad, trainings at an airport in central Slovakia and a pledge not to make any cuts to the defence budget. “We have pledged to boost our presence in the headquarters in Szczecin, Poland,” said President Andrej Kiska, who led the Slovak delegation to the summit, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “We have offered our airport in Sliač and the training facility in Lešť for the Alliance’s manoeuvres.”

Slovakia is also working on intensifying intelligence activities together with its Visegrad Group (V4) partners, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, in association with the situation in Ukraine, Kiska said, as quoted by TASR. Slovakia, which currently contributes about 1 percent of GDP to its defence budget, promised no further budget cuts until 2016 and pledged that it would start hiking this budget to reach 1.6 percent of GDP by 2020, still well below the 2 percent threshold pledged by NATO members. Of the total spending, 20 percent should go for the modernisation of forces. “We came to the summit with an ambitious package, which our partners appreciated,” Kiska said, as quoted by the SITA newswire, adding that raising national budgets is important in light of the current crisis in Ukraine. “Russia, with its behaviour, endangers security in Europe.”

Russian soldiers are fighting in the eastern parts of Ukraine, raising concerns mainly in the neighbouring countries that fear for their security, Kiska said. Nevertheless, information that Slovakia is planning to build a logistics base for use by NATO in Poprad has so far received the strongest response, especially among Poprad locals who in a poll posted on the official municipal website rushed to oppose the idea. Within the first 22 hours, more than 902 of the 1,000 voting citizens responded no, SITA reported. The establishment of the logistics base is not yet certain, according to Defence Ministry spokesperson Martina Balleková, suggesting that NATO authorities have yet to assess the Slovak proposal.

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