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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)

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Update No: 126 - (26/11/07)

Dispute over a land deal threatens coalition, says Smer
Its former dictator, Vladimir Meciar, continues to haunt Slovakian politics. He had the good grace to accept the verdict of the polls nine years ago in 1998 and stand down and has thus been able to remain in mainstream politics. His party is now causing ructions inside the governing coalition, which would lose its majority in parliament without its support.

The Slovak senior ruling party, Smer-Social Democracy of Prime Minister Robert Fico, said on November 20 that a dispute over a (corrupt) land deal threatens the existence of the coalition government. "The situation in the governing coalition is serious," Silvia Glendova, a spokeswoman for Smer, told Slovak TA3 news television.

She said her party blamed the junior People's Party- Movement for a Democratic Slovakia of Meciar. "Smer is not interested in participating in a coalition which would tolerate such managing of land in the Slovak Land Fund," Glendova said.

At issue is a piece of land near the High Tatras mountain range that was purchased by a company close to Meciar's party for some 13 million koruna (euro392,300; US$580,000) from owners who had received it as restitution in a deal approved by the Slovak Land Fund. The land's real value is reportedly 1.5 billion koruna (euro45.3 million; US$67.0 million). Fico's Smer called the deal "scandalous."

The Slovak agriculture minister, Miroslav Jurena, who is from Meciar's party, is in charge of the fund. That is the key.

It has been revealed that Slovak Land Fund (SPF) vice-chairman Briza signed an agreement in April on the basis of which former owners of land near Michalovce (Kosice region) were given property in Velky Slavkov near the High Tatra Mountains as restitution. The owners then sold the land to a company called GVM, which is said to be close to Meciar, for nearly Sk13 million (€391,000), despite the fact that its real market value was Sk1.5 billion. 

The ultra-nationalist Slovak National Party led by Jan Slota is the remaining party in the government, which would lose its parliamentary majority without Meciar's party.

Governing-coalition Smer-SD party said at its extraordinary session on November 20 that the situation in the governing coalition is "serious, as LS-HZDS is opposing further measures aimed at removing the consequences of the scandalous transfer of land at the Slovak Land Fund (SPF) carried out by an LS-HZDS nominee."

Smer makes clear its displeasure
"Smer-SD isn't interested in being part of a governing coalition that turns a blind eye to manipulating SPF land in a manner that was typical of (Mikulas) Dzurinda's government," Prime Minister Robert Fico spokesperson Silvia Glendova told SLOVAKIA.

According to Fico, the contracts signed by SPF vice-chairman Branislav Briza at the time he was in charge instead of the SPF chairman, are scandalous. As a result, Fico insisted that Agriculture Minister Miroslav Jurena (a HZDS nominee) should dismiss Briza over the land deal - otherwise, Jurena might lose Fico's trust.

Fico's initiative was followed by Meciar's ultimatum that if the premier expresses his loss of trust in Jurena, HZDS will express its lack of confidence in Fico. Fico stressed that his party would not be scared by threats and views the assumption of personal, political and legal responsibility for the scandal as a matter of principle, even if it led to a collapse of the governing coalition.

In the end, Briza resigned on November 15. He has kept his position on the SPF board, however.
Fico tops political trustworthiness chart in November; Slota tops untrustworthiness list.
While the politicians are losing trust in each other, it is interesting to see what the general public think of them.

In an unusual opinion poll survey, measuring not just popularity, but lack of it too, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico remains the most trusted politician in Slovakia, while Slota, the leader of the junior partner in the coalition, is the least trusted politician. 

A public opinion poll by the MVK agency shows that in November Fico, leader of Smer. had the trust of 39.4 percent of Slovak citizens. President Ivan Gašparovic follows with 26.9 percent. The third most trustworthy politician in Slovakia is Iveta Radicová, deputy-chair of the opposition SDKÚ and former labour minister, with 18.4 percent. 

The top five is rounded off by Ján Slota, the chairman of the junior coalition SNS partner, with 16.3 percent; and Smer Interior Minister Robert Kalinák, with 13.3 percent.

Slota is also seen as the most untrustworthy politician, with 37.2 percent, a telling statistic. The chairman of the opposition SDKÚ and former PM Mikuláš Dzurinda follows with 33.7 percent as the second most unpopular, then comes HZDS chairman Vladimír Meciar third, with 32.7 percent. Fico was named as untrustworthy by 21.6 percent of the respondents. 

Each respondent was asked to name three trusted politicians, so the results add up to more than 100 percent. The poll was conducted on a sample of 1,114 respondents in early November.

Kazakh-Slovakian relations on the rise 
Slovakia is very keen to lessen its energy dependence on Russia, which provides the bulk of its energy supplies. Now that Kazakhstan is beginning to be able to transport its Caspian sea oil via Azerbaijan and the Southern Caucasus route, it is becoming a most attractive alternative.

Issues of trade and economic cooperation dominated Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev's two-day visit to Slovakia in November. 

Nazarbayev had talks with Fico, who told him about Slovakia's interest in importing oil and gas from Kazakhstan and in handling a part of the transit of Kazakhstani hydrocarbons to Western Europe. Government officials in Bratislava believe these supplies may begin within the next five years. 
November 20 was the main day of the visit, as Nazarbayev had talks with Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic and parliament speaker Pavol Paska. The sides signed four documents pertaining to expansion of trade and contacts in the humanitarian sphere. 

"Slovakia considers Kazakhstan to be a most promising partner in Asia and the Caspian littoral area," Marek Trubac, the Slovak president's press secretary told Itar-tass. "Nursultan Nazarbayev's visit will herald in a new stage of Kazakhstani-Slovak relations and will become the most crucial event in the history of this relationship in the past few years," Trubac said.

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