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SLOVAKIA


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 31,868 23,700 20,500 59
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,920 3,950 3,760 73
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Slovakia


 
Update No: 123 - (31/08/07)

The centre of Central Europe 
Slovakia is an interesting entity. Much more so than people realise. It is right in the heart of Central Europe, in its living centre.

Bratislava, its capital, is next to Vienna and right on the Hungarian, as well as Austrian, border. It is the ancient, if not the scientifically geographic centre of Central Europe, on its main artery, the Danube.

Slovakia took the initiative in radical reform under the leadership of Mikulas Dzurinda (1998-2006), coming after the leaden grip of Vladimir Meciar, who had the rare merit for a populist, former communist apparatchik, of respecting the electorate's dismissal of him and leaving office quietly. Dzurinda's reforms, among other things, united individual and corporate income taxes at 19 percent and introduced private pension schemes as well as cash payments in surgeries. This made him very popular abroad, but not so much with the populace. 
The new leftist government of Robert Fico has adjusted some of the reform steps since it took over in July last year.

Smer predominant
The governing Party Direction - Third Way (Smer) remains the most popular political organization in Slovakia, according to a poll by MVK. 39.7 per cent of respondents would vote for Smer in the next parliamentary election.

The Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU) is second with 15.5 per cent, followed by the Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) with 10.7 per cent, the Slovak National Party (SNS) with 10.5 per cent, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) with 7.8 per cent, and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) with 6.9 per cent.

Parties require at least six per cent of the vote to earn seats under the country's proportional representation system. The Slovak Communist Party (KSS) and the Green Party (SZ) fall below this threshold.

Slovak voters renewed their legislative branch in June 2006. Final results placed Smer-led by Robert Fico-as the top party in this European country with 50 seats. In July, Fico officially took over as prime minister, in a coalition encompassing Smer, the SNS and the HZDS.

Bratislava the Central European jewel
Bratislava is not as well known as it deserves to be. Everybody knows about Prague, indeed Warsaw, Budapest and Bucharest. Capitals all of ancient nations. Bratislava only became a capital in January 1993. Actually it was briefly one of an independent Slovakia, thanks to Hitler, after 1939, under the curious leadership of Jozef Tiso, who managed to be an ardent fascist and was a senior Roman Catholic priest, a monseignor. He pleased Hitler by his zealous anti-semitism, dispatching 58,000 Jews to the gas chambers, but failed to notice that Hitler was as zealously anti-clerical and intended to liquidate priests after the war. 

It has a superb location. It is becoming the powerhouse of the region, including Eastern Austria, Northern Hungary and the Southern Czech Republic. The expansion of Bratislava's residential districts and suburbs into neighbouring EU republics is generating new businesses and job opportunities for them as well. Buoyed by the growth of prosperity in the Bratislava surrounds, property prices are soaring in adjacent areas of Austria and Hungary

SCHENGEN
In late July, interior ministers from 14 European Union (EU) countries agreed that it will be possible to lift border controls by the end of August. New members of the EU-such as Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland-are preparing to implement the Schengen Information System (SIS), which allows them to remove systematic border controls between them at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008. Slovak interior minister Robert Kalinak discussed the situation, saying, "As the timetable within the implementation of SIS is still valid, there is no reason to postpone the deadline for the entry of individual countries in Schengen."

In January this very important development should accelerate the property boom. Slovakia and Hungary are set to join Austria in the EU borderless zone known as the Schengen Agreement, whereby travellers do not need to show passports when crossing from one country to the next within the EU. Daily crossing to and fro will be seamless. 

Buoyed by the growth of prosperity in the Bratislava surrounds property prices are soaring in adjacent areas of Austria and Hungary. 

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