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Slovak Spectator 16 03

Slovak Spectator 16 03

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The Slovak Spectator is Slovakia’s only English-language newspaper. It is published weekly by The Rock, s.r.o. publishing house and covers local news, culture and business.
The Slovak Spectator is Slovakia’s only English-language newspaper. It is published weekly by The Rock, s.r.o. publishing house and covers local news, culture and business.

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Published by: The Slovak Spectator on Mar 05, 2010
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AfterreceivingtheapprovalofMEPs,MarošŠefčovič,Slovakia'scommissioner-designatetotheECisnowsettobecomeoneof thecommission'ssevenvice-presidents,withresponsibilityforinter-institutionalrelationsandadministration.
Photo:ČTK
EP grillingfails to singeŠefčovič
DESPITE the fact that the recent EuropeanParliament (EP) hearing for Slovakia’sEuropean Commissioner-designate MarošŠefčovič belonged among the most-heatedones,hepassedhistrial-by-fireandwaseven-tually endorsed for the post of Vice-Presidentof the European Commission (EC) for Inter-InstitutionalRelationsandAdministration.BeforethestartoftheirtermswiththeEC,nominees from each member state must beapprovedas a wholebodyby theEP. Individu-al hearings for each commissioner-designatetook place in mid-January before the parlia-mentary committees responsible for over-sightofeachcommissioner’sportfolio.
SeeECpg3
 Axe to fall on two ministries
THE TRIMMING of state administra-tion bureaucracy has started, heraldsthe government of Prime MinisterRobert Fico. The government plans toclose up the stand-alone Ministries of Environment, and Construction andRegional Development, merge theformer with the Ministry of Agricul-ture, then toss in the regional devel-opment duties from the latter and cre-ate a new Ministry for Agriculture, En- vironmentandRegionalDevelopment.Under other parts of the PrimeMinister’s grand plan, the tourismfunctions will move to the Ministry of Culture and the Economy Ministry willassume the construction-related func-tions of the Ministry of Constructionand Regional Development. And to topit off, all authority related to drawingEU funds will be placed in the hands of theSlovakCabinetOffice.The Slovak parliament has alreadysaid yes to the plan in a fast-tracked le-gislative procedure which took placeonJanuary20.However, this does not mean thatthe current government of Prime Min-ister Robert Fico will have to walk the walk, since the reshuffling approvednow, a few months before June’s par-liamentary elections, will take effectonlyunderthenextgovernment.Prime Minister Fico dubbed thetrimming plan “fantastic” but it seemsthatthereareseveralgroupswhich,fora number of reasons, do not share hisenthusiasm. Environmental organisa-tions, ecologists and civic activists areprotesting against scrapping the Min-istry of Environment, saying that themerger plan reveals that the currentgovernment simply does not under-stand environmental policies and theimportance of protecting nature. TheSlovak Governance Institute has initi-ated a petition against the eliminationof the stand-alone environment min-istry.Fico said that the plan can save thestate about €13.28 million annually butthe draft that was submitted to parlia-ment did not provide exact figures onpotentialsavings.Several observers said that Fico isrushing into this mega-merger without proper preparations and thatin the end the savings might not bethatsignificant.
SeeCUTpg4
NEWS
Languagelawrevisited
 AdelegationfromtheCouncilofEurope'sVeniceCommis-sionhasvisitedSlovakiatoreviewthecountry'scontro- versialStateLanguageAct.pg2
Joblessratekeepsrising
Thoughthehorizonisshow-ingclearercontoursofaneconomicrecoveryin2010,dataonavailablejobscoupled withastillrisingjoblessratedonotgiveSlovakia’sarmyof unemployedmuchhoperightnow.pg3
OPINION
 Trimmingthestate
Talkofnarrowingthestate'sgenerouswaistlinerisksbe-ingjustthat:talk.pg5
BUSINESSFOCUS
Indiarebuildslinks
TheSlovakSpectatorspoketo AmbassadorHomaiSahaaboutherthoughtsaboutIndia'seconomicdevelop-ment,globalclimatechange,thebusinessenvironment,andacademicexchangesandtheirchallenges.pg6
SlovaksdiscoverIndia
SlovakstraveltoIndiatoseeancientmonumentsandexot-icwildlifeaswellastotrekintheHimalayas,orhavetreat-mentsatspasandwellnesscentres.pg
CULTURE
FascinatedbyIndia
Slovakia'sIndiaclubhasmaintainedculturallinks betweenthetwocountriesfor27years.pg11
SailingontheLines
TheJánKoniarekGalleryinTrnavaisshowcasingspecialtreasuresfromitscollections.Someoftheworksdisplayedhaveneverbeenseenbythepublicbefore.pg11
Slovakia to take threeGuantánamo detainees
THREE prisoners from the controver-sial US detention centre atGuantánamo Bay will be resettled inSlovakia this year following an agree-ment reached between the Slovak andUSgovernments.Slovak officials have provided littleinformation about the detainees, orabout how the security risks and legalcomplexitiesinvolvedinhousingthem would be handled. At a press confer-ence in Bratislava on January 19, For-eignMinisterMiroslavLajčáksaidonlythat none of the three were suspectedterrorists, nor had any ever beenchargedwithacrime.Slovakia becomes the tenthEuropean Union country to acceptGuantánamo detainees, following aninternational appeal by US PresidentBarack Obama for help in closing theprison. The Fico government’s decisionto take the three, as well as its vocalsupport for Obama himself, surprisedsome diplomats, who contrasted it with Prime Minister Robert Fico’sformerly cool stance towards the USpresident.“While I applaud this decision, it’sdifficult to know what is behind it,”said former Slovak ambassador to Washington Martin Bútora. “Anti- American rhetoric has always been astrong part of Fico’s politics, and noth-ing changed with the election of Obama,eventhoughonthepolicylevel you might have expected there to besomesharedgroundbetweenthetwo. AseniorSlovakForeignMinistryof-ficial described the three detainees as“non-combatant militants”, such ascooks or drivers within suspected ter-roristorganisations.
SeeBAYpg2
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Banks opposestate plan tosimplify fees
 A GUIDING thread to help bank clients walkthrough the maze of bank fees: this is how thestateportraysitslatestproposedlawdirectedatthe banking sector. But banks say that insteadof casting more light on their fees the state isabouttointerveneinthefreemarketandispre-paringthegroundforpriceregulation.
If the draft legislation on consumer loansthat the cabinet approved in mid January ispassed by parliament, each bank operating inSlovakia will have to offer a so-called “basic bankingproduct”, definedasapackageofser- viceswhichmustbeidenticalacrossallbanks.
SeeSBApg4
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New US envoy to Slovakianamed
PUBLISHER Theodore ‘Tod’ Sedgwick of Vir-ginia has been selected to become the new USambassador to Slovakia. The announcement was made by the White House on January 20.Providing Sedgwick is approved by the USSenate, he will fill one of the last remaining vacanciesatAmerica’sEuropeanembassies.
SeeUSpg3
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SpecialtotheSpectator
 Vol. 16, No. 3
 Monday, January 25, 2010 - Sunday, January 31, 2010
FOCUS
of this issue
On sale now
 
On sale now
FOCUS
of this issue
 from page 6 
INDIA 
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S
ELECT FOREX RATES
benchmark as of 
 January 21
CANADA
 
CAD
147CZECHREP
CZK
25.98RUSSIA
RUB
4186GREATBRTAN
GBP
0.87HUNGARY
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270.43JAPAN
 JPY
129.14POLAND
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4.05USA
USD
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BAY: Inmates will not be free to travel
Continuedfrompg1
 According to a source close to the trans-fer, the Slovak side was given a list of 10 can-didatestochoosefrom.Foreign and Interior Ministry officialsinterviewed prisoners at Guantánamo, weighing their ability to adapt to the“specifics” of the Slovak environment, suchas the absence of a larger Muslim com-munity. The prisoners were free to reject re-settlementinSlovakia,andinatleastonein-stancedidso.On their arrival, the Foreign Ministry of-ficial said, the three will be housed in specialcamps under the control of the Interior Min-istry.Following an 18-month process of accli-matisation to Slovakia, during which they willgethelplearningthelanguage,findingajob and a place to live, the prisoners will bereleased, though they will remain under thesupervision of local intelligence services foranundeterminedperiod.
USnotanoption
In an interview with The Slovak Spectat-or, the special envoy for the closing of Guantánamo, Daniel Fried, said that the de-tainees would not immediately be free totravel within the passport-free SchengenzonethatSlovakiabelongsto.“In most cases, detainees do not get aSchengen visa but a national visa issued bythe country they settle in," he said. "Thatmeans that in the short term they can’ttravel, and in the longer term it’s a questionofwhatcountrywouldacceptthem.” An agreement between the US and theEU, as well as an EU regulation from June2009 lay out the rules for transfers of Guantánamo detainees within Schengen.“Slovakia is not acting alone, but together with other European countries who have ac-cepteddetaineesundertheumbrellaoftheseaccords, which basically gave them thegreenlight,Friedsaid.The detainees were not given the optionof resettlement within the United States,however, because Congress has banned it.“It’s a fair question,” Fried said. “Manypeople think that we should be taking lowerrisk detainees as well, but Congress has not been willing to do so. But we are also doingour bit, as we are taking the highest risk de-tainees, who will go before a court or be inlong-termdetention.”Other EU members to have taken prison-ers include Great Britain, which has re-settled 14, as well as Portugal, France, Italy,SpainandHungary.
SupportforObama
 At a briefing, a senior Foreign Ministryofficial called the decision to accept detain-ees“astatementofpoliticalsupportforwhatthe Obama administration is trying toachieve. There are too many people trying totear Obama down for what he has not doneso far.” He also said that “we wanted to helpresolve an issue that has caused tension withintheEuro-Atlanticcommunity.”Lajčák also spoke of solidarity with theUS and in particular with Obama, “who hasintroduced a new atmosphere to interna-tional relations and who is promoting newapproaches to solving problems inheritedfromthepast”.The tone of these statements differssharply from Prime Minister Robert Fico’slaconic response to Obama’s election victoryin 2008, in which he observed that “it willnotmakebreadanycheaperinSlovakia”. A Slovak diplomat who formerly servedin Washington said he suspected the Ficogovernment was hoping to win somethinginreturnforacceptingthedetainees,suchasanaudienceforFicowithObama,oravisittoSlovakia by Secretary of State Hillary Clin-ton. “This is a win-win situation for Ficohere, first of all because it was the rightthing to do, and secondly because if he getssomethingforit,suchasatoningdownofUScriticism of corruption in Slovakia, it couldhelp him with elections only five monthsaway,” the source said. “I also suspect thathe wants to show up US foreign policy ascynical, and to demonstrate that he cansnuggleuptoMoscowandvisitLibya,hecan basically do whatever he wants, but in theendhecanalwaysbuyagoodname.ButFried,whowasinvolvedinthetrans-fer talks, said there had been no horse-trad-ing for high-level meetings. “They never putitonthetable,”hesaid.“Theysaidtheywereinterested in good relations with the US, buttherewasnobazaarmentality.”Bútora also said he thought it was un-likelythatFicocouldbarteranaudiencewithObama this close to Slovakia’s June parlia-mentary elections. “That would basicallyamount to an election endorsement,” hesaid. “I don’t want to believe this was justaboutbusiness.”
ThefutureofGuantánamo
The Guantánamo Bay site was chosen asa detentioncentrefor suspectedterroristsbyformer US President George W. Bush follow-ing the September 11, 2001, attacks on NewYork and Washington. Most of the jail’s cur-rent population of some 220 prisoners aresuspected of ties to Al-Qaeda or the Talibanmovement in Afghanistan, while others were taken prisoner during fighting in Iraqand Afghanistan. Obama promised, on tak-ing office, to shut the facility by January2010, but that target has proven too ambi-tious and the legal and security issues morecomplexthanObamaanticipated.The US chard’affaires in Bratislava,Keith Eddins, said that the USA had decidedtolocateupto150low-riskprisonersinalliedcountries because it had no assurance they would not be mistreated if returned to theirhome countries. Some 100 prisoners – thoseconsidered too dangerous to release – willremaininprisonsintheUSorwillbetriedincourt.Eddins acknowledged that the decisionto release the prisoners amounted to an ad-mission from the White House that theyshould never have been in custody in thefirst place. “Some of the people who woundup in Guantánamo do not represent thethreatthatwefirstbelieved.”
 Venice Commission visits
SLOVAKIA’s State Language Act, whichhasbeenafactorinthede-terioriation of Slovak-Hungarianrelations, will be examined by yet another international au-thority. After the High Commis-sioner for Minorities of the Or-ganisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) par-ticipated in drafting the imple-mentation guidelines for thecontroversial law and promisedto keep an eye on its future ap-plication, now experts from theCouncil of Europe are also expec-tedtogivetheiropinions. A four-member delegationfrom the European CommissionforDemocracythroughLaw,alsoknown as the Venice Commis-sion,whichservesasanadvisory body to the Council of Europe onconstitutional matters, visitedSlovakia on January 18 and 19 atthe request of the Slovak gov-ernment to gather informationto prepare a statement on theStateLanguageAct.The delegation met officialsfromtheForeignAffairsandCul-ture Ministries, representativesof minorities living in Slovakia,and political parties represent-ing ethnic Hungarian citizens.The latter have been among themain critics of the law. The del-egation also made a field trip toDunajská Streda in south-west-ern Slovakia where a large num- ber of citizens are ethnic Hun-garians.Slovakia asked the VeniceCommission to evaluate thecompliance of the State Lan-guage Act with internationalnorms and the obligations of thecountry towards the interna-tional community, the Foreign Affairs Ministry stated beforethevisitbegan.Thelaw,passedinJune2009, became effective in September2009 and has encountered heavycriticism, mainly from repres-entatives of the ethnic Hungari-an minority living in Slovakia as well from government repres-entatives and politicians inHungary who have complainedthat the law harms the positionof minorities living in Slovakiaand hinders their basic right tousetheirmothertongue.
SeeCoEpg9
 TrenčínUniversityrectorresigns
T
HERECTORoftheUniversityofAlexanderDubčekinTrenčín(TnUAD),MiroslavMečár,submittedhisresigna-tiontoEducationMinisterJánMikolajonJanuary19,severalmonthsafterascandaloverquestionablediplomasawar-dedbytheuniversityhitmediaheadlines.
MečárwillleavehispostonMarch1.Heannouncedthatheplanstoinitiateseveralmeas-urestomaketheacademicsen-atemoreeffectiveandtoridtheschoolofseveralindividuals beforethen,theSITAnewswirereported.Mečárofferedhisopinionthattherearecliquesandindi- vidualsattheuniversitywhoinitiatedaprocessofself-de-structionforTnUADbasedontheirownnarrow-mindedandselfishgoalsandthatheplanstogetridofthem.Healsosaidthathewasresigningtohelpcalmthesitu-ationattheschool.ButMečárdidnotruleoutapplyingfortherector’spostagain,SITAwrote.Theacademicsenateof TrenčínUniversityrecalledMečáronDecember7,2009.Hefiledacomplaintincourttocontestthevalidityof hisrecallandofthemeetingof theacademicsenate,allegingfactualandproceduralerrors.Mečársaidthathehadfiledthelawsuitbecausetheprin-ciplesofthelawonuniversitieshadbeenbreached.Healsosaidthatapersonwithacriminalpasthadpresidedoverthemeeting. AnauditofTnUADconduc-tedbytheEducationMinistryreportedmisconductandviola-tionsofthelawandproceduresoftheuniversitywithinitslife-longlearningprogramme.Hundredsofstudentsmightnowlosetheirdiplomas.
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in short 
2
January 25 – 31, 2010 
NEWS
MembersofthedelegationinBratislava.
Photo:Sme-T.Somogyi
QualityofSlovakdemocracystillfalling
THEQUALITYofdemocracyinSlovakiaworsenedlastyear,saysareportentitledIVOBa-rometerpreparedbythePublic AffairsInstitute(IVO),anNGOthinktank,theSITAnewswire wrote.DeteriorationwasreportedinallareasmonitoredbyIVO,includingdemocraticinstitu-tions,ruleoflaw,legislation,humanandminorityrights,andindependenceoftheme-dia.Comparedto2008,thequalityofdemocracydroppedfrom2.9pointsto3.3pointsin2009,basedonascalefrom1to5with1beingthebest.“Problematictrendsdidnotdisappear,partycronyismdidnotweaken,andmarginalisa-tionoftheparliamentaryop-positionintheformofrejec-tionofallitslegislativepropos-alspersists,”IVOPresidentGrigorijMesežnikovtoldSITAonWednesday,January20,addingthatimplementationof theprincipleofpartyandpolit-icalloyaltytowardstherulingcoalitionattheexpenseofpro-fessionalismandcompetitive-nesshadamajorimpactonstateinstitutions.Mesežnikovsaidthereisanalarmingquestionaboutjudi-cialindependence,whichsomejudgesthemselvesdrewatten-tionto,whichisrareindemo-craticcountries.Thegovern-mentreactedinatypicalwaytothesituationanditsdefence wasreminiscentoftheerapri-orto1989,Mesežnikovsaid.
SlovakiahelpsinHaitianrescueefforts
SEVERALrescueteamsfromSlovakiawilltakepartinrescueeffortsinHaitifollowingtheearthquakethatdevastateditsresidentsandcausedseveredamagetotheisland’sinfra-structureinmid-January. Ateamofhealth-care workersfromtheStElisabethUniversityofHealthcareandSocialWorkinBratislavaar-rivedinthecapitaloftheis-land,Port-au-Prince,onJanu-ary20andimmediatelystartedrescueoperations,theSITAnewswirereported,addingthatrescuersinHaitiareworkinginextremeconditionsabout18hoursadayandaredailysavingthelivesof around50people.TheSlovakteambroughtalongabout300kilogramsof medications. Anotherteamof16SlovakrescuerswasexpectedtodepartfromParisonJanuary23.AsmallerteamofvolunteersfromtheAssociationofSamar-itansofSlovakiaisalsoleavingforHaitialongwiththeirAus-triancolleagues,theČTK newswirereported.Slovakiawillalsocontrib-utewithmaterialhumanitari-anhelp:large-capacitytents,foldingbeds,sleepingbagsand blankets.TheForeignAffairsMinistryhasassigned€50,000fromtheSlovakAgencyforIn-ternationalDevelopment,knownasSlovakAid,forHaiti,ČTKreported.
Judgeaccusedofneglect
SUPREMECourtPresidentŠtefanHarabininitiateddiscip-linaryproceedingsinSeptem- ber2009againstJudgeJozef Kanderaforallegedlyneglect-ingfourcases,theSmedailyreported.Theheadofthedisciplinarypanel,HaraldStiffel,didnot wanttosaywhetherthejudgeisguiltyofprocrastinationun-tilheknowsmoreaboutthescopeofthecasefiles.Kanderasaysthathehasbeenstudyingthecases,whichhedoesnotconsidertobeinactivityorpro-crastination.Kanderaisoneof the105signersofapetitional-legingthatHarabinhasbeenabusingdisciplinaryproceed-ingsagainstjudges.
CompiledbySpectatorstaff from pressreports
DelegationgathersinformationaboutSlovakia’slanguagelaw
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ThreeGuantánamoinmateswillbemovedtoacampinSlovakia.
Photo:Reuters
 
EC: Being prepared
Continuedfrompg1
Šefčovič,assignedtheport-folioofinter-institutionalrela-tionsandadministration,wasexaminedbymembersoftheConstitutionalAffairsCommit-tee(AFCO)onJanuary18.Membersofthecommittee, whoareexpectedtotesttheprofessionalskillsandoverallpreparednessofthecommis-sioner-designatetohandlehisassignedportfolio,questionedŠefčovičaboutimplementationoftherecently-approvedLis- bonTreaty,electoralreformof Europeanelections,therotat-ingseatoftheEP,andhislevelofeuro-federalism.RadovanGeist,theeditor-in-chiefofEurActiv.sk,saidtherewereseveraltough,polit-ically-sensitivequestionsputtoŠefčovičandthatsomecommitteemembersfoundhisanswerstobetoogeneral.“Ingeneral,thosewerequestionsaboutproblemsthatcannotbeansweredinawaythatwouldpleaseeveryone–suchastheregularmigrationoftheEPbetweenBrusselsandStrasbourg,theissueoftheop-timaldepthofEuropeaninteg-ration,etc,”GeisttoldTheSlovakSpectator.HesaidthatŠefčovič,whohadpreviouslyservedasambassadoratSlovakia’sPermanentRepres-entationtotheEU,usedhisexperienceandskillsasadip-lomatandeloquenceasaspeaker.
Anti-Romaaccusations
MediaattentionwasquiteheavilyfocusedonŠefčovič’shearing,notasatestofhispro-fessionalskills,butmainlybe-causeofaccusationsofanti-Romasentimentsdirectedathim.TheaccusationsweremadeafewdaysbeforethehearingbyJózsefSzájer,anMEPfromtheHungary'sFideszparty,whichisaffiliatedtotheEuropeanPeople’sParty(EPP).SzájerservesastheEPP'sco-ordinatorforcommissioner-designatehearings.SzájeraccusedŠefčovičof havingcalledRoma“exploitersoftheSlovakwelfaresystem”ataconferenceoftheEuropeanCommissionin2005.HesaidthatinhisECpost,Šefčovičcannothaveanydiscriminat-oryattitudes.Szájer’saccusationscausedaheatedreactiononboththeEuropeanandnationallevel.NotonlytheSlovakgovern-mentthatnominatedhim,butalsoRomaorganisationssuchastheEuropeanRomaInform-ationOffice,supportedŠefčovičandpraisedhimforhispersonalengagementintheareaofsocialinclusionof theRomaminorityinSlovakia. Aquestionabouttheseac-cusationswasraisedatthe verybeginningofŠefčovič’shearingandinhisresponsehestressedhispastworkwithRomacitizensandaskedtheMEPstoputthisworkonthesamescaleasthefive-year-oldquotewhichhesaidwastakenoutofcontext,theofficialEPpressreleasereported.
“Ineverhadanti-Romasentiments,Šefčovičsaid.“Iamreadytoworkwiththose whowanttoworkonthisissue.”
Observers,aswellasSlovakMEPscontactedbyTheSlovakSpectator,foundŠefčovič’sde-fenceduringthehearingtobeconvincing.“IregardthereservationsagainstMr.ŠefčovičonthepartofsomeofmyfellowMEPstobenonsenseandunjustified,”SlovakMEPEduardKukantoldTheSlovakSpectator.“IhaveknownŠefčovičfor20yearsandIfindanyattemptstocreatetheimpressionthatheisracistorxenophobicbizarre.”
Nationalpoliticsinvolved
 AnotherSlovakMEP,MonikaFlašíkováBeňová,whoisaffiliatedwiththePartyof EuropeanSocialists(PES)andelectedasarepresentativeof theSmerparty,believesthatSzájer’saccusationswereares-ultofaradicalisationoftheat-titudesofFideszMEPstowardsSlovakia.“Itseemslikethisyear,andmainlytheupcomingnationalelectionsinHungary,will bringalongmanymoresimilar verbalattacks,”shetoldTheSlovakSpectator.HerpartyleaderandSlovakprimeminister,RobertFico,expressedsimilarsentiments whentheconflicthitthena-tionalpoliticalscene.Afterthehearing,theSITAnewswirere-ported,hesaidthattheSlovakgovernmentcondemnsalltheattacksof“chauvinistFidesz”againstŠefčovič.“WerecommendthatFideszdealwiththecomplexit-iesonitsownnationalpoliticalscene,wheremurdersofRomaoccurred,”Ficosaid,addingthatheisconcernedaboutSlovakia’sHungarianCoalitionParty(SMK),whichaccordingtohim,servesasanextensionofFideszinSlovakia.
TheEuropeanpoliticalaspect
Geist,however,believesthenationalaspectorrelations betweenSlovakiaandHungaryarenotverysignificantinthiscase.“MEPSzájer,wholedtheattackonŠefčovič,wasdoingittoalargeextentbyvirtueofhispost–asheistheEPPcoordin-atorforcommissioners’hearings,”Geistsaid. AccordingtoGeist,ques-tionsaboutthepersonalinteg-rityofthecommissioner-des-ignatearefullyappropriateandjustified.Ontheotherhand,heagreedtherewerepoliticsinvolvedinthecriti-cismofŠefčovič,astheEuropeansocialists,thePES,hadbeenpressingontheBul-gariandesignate,RumaniaJel-eva,togiveupherpostoveradubiousassetsdeclarationandallegedlinksbetweenherhus- bandandorganisedcrimeinBulgaria.Shedideventually withdrawhername.“TheEPPagreedthey wouldreturnthestrikeandŠefčovič’sstatementfromfive yearsagoprovidedanoppor-tunitytodothat,”hesaid,ex-plainingthatŠefčovič,despitehimselfbeinganapoliticaldip-lomat,wasstillanomineeof Slovakia'sSmer-ledgovern-ment,andSmerinturnisaffil-iatedwiththePES.
3
January 25 – 31, 2010 
NEWS/BUSINESS
 A few more gloomy months to come for labour
THOUGHthehorizonisshowingclearer contours of an economicrecovery in 2010, data on avail-able jobs coupled with a stillrising jobless rate do not giveSlovakia’s army of unemployedmuch hope right now. InDecember 2009, the country re-corded 116,000 more unem-ployed than a year earlier and atotal of more than 335,000 job-lesscitizens.
Market watchers say it maytake many more months untilSlovakia’s labour market startsrecoveringandsomeanalystsarepredicting even gloomier newsover the first six months of 2010, with new additions to the un-employmentfigures.
 While Slovakia’s labour au-thoritypresentedtheDecembernumbers more optimistically, with the spin that the growthin unemployment has nowslowed down, the oppositionquickly challenged the gov-ernment, saying that the job-less rate grew twice as fast dur-ing the economic crisis in Slov-akia as did the average acrosstheEuropeanUnion.The registered unemploy-ment rate in Slovakia climbed0.26 percentage point month-on-month in December 2009 tostandat12.66percent,accordingto data released by Ján Sihelský,the director general of the La- bour, Social Affairs and FamilyCentral Office. The registeredjobless rate thus reached itshighest level since March 2005.Compared to December 2008,the jobless rate inDecember2009 had increased 4.27 per-centage points, with 116,570Slovaks joining the ranks of theunemployed over the course of the year. At the end of Decem- ber, Slovakia had 335,490 re-gistered unemployed persons who said they were ready toimmediatelytakeupjobs.
D
ávid Dereník, a macro-ana-lyst with UniCredit Bank seessome seasonal influences behindthe December increase in the job-less rate since “in the last monthsof the year the number of unem-ployed increases primarily in theconstructionindustry”.“Thisisprovenbya50-percentincrease of newly unemployedconstruction workers inDecember,” Dereník said. “Last year in December approximately2,000 construction workers re-gistered with the Labour Office;thisyearitis1,000more.” According to Dereník, public-private partnership projects inroad building might bring somehope for jobless construction workersin2010.Sihelský said that the numberof availablejobsrecordedin labouroffices dropped considerably year-on-year,withonlyabout5,000jobsavailable at the end of December2009, 11,000 less than in December2008,theSITAnewswirewrote.
However, Sihelský also saidthat mass layoffs reported to la- bour offices seemingly droppedat the end of last year, as the au-thorities recorded only 500 job-lesswhohadbeenletgoinlarge-scalelayoffsasdefinedbySlovaklaw.Employersoriginallyrepor-ted1,300jobsasendangered.The December results haveconfirmed the expectations of market watchers, said JanaMrvo, an analyst withPoštováBanka.In October 2009 the numberof jobless Slovaks droppedmonth-on-month to 12.4 per-cent and then remained at thesamelevelinNovember.“The December increase inthe number of jobless wasevoked by the impacts of theeconomic downturn on the la- bour market, which has clearlyshown that we should not getcomfort from the stagnationover a roughly two-monthperiod,” Mrvová told The SlovakSpectator. “Though the impactof the crisis on Slovakia’s eco-nomy is gradually easing, wehave not won the battle and we willcontinuefeelingitsimpactsonthelabourmarketthisyear.”Mrvová agreed that in addi-tion to the crisis, seasonal influ-ences also had an impact on the year-end increase in the joblessrate since some jobs in the con-struction and agriculture indus-tries are often eliminated overthewintermonths.Underpressurefromsinkingforeign demand, production inSlovakia’s export-oriented eco-nomy fell significantly, openingthe gate to a wave of layoffs, ac-cording to Mrvová. While notsparing any segments of theeconomy, the crisis first hit in-dustrial producers primarily inexportmarkets.“Over 2009, from month tomonth there were significantcuts in the number of peopleemployed in industry, which isthe largest employment sectorforSlovaks,”Mrvovásaid.But she added that othereconomic sectors, for exampleretail sales, have been affectedaswell.“Even though we are cur-rently witnessing certain posit-ive economic results not only inthe Slovak economy but also inthe world economy which wecouldtickoffasthebeginningof an economic recovery, oneshould not forget that the re-covery will be slow andgradual,” said Mrvová. “The la- bour market responds to eco-nomic recovery with a certaindelay since it is first necessarythat demand and production re-covers and only then will jobopportunitiesfollow.”
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Jobless rate nears5-year high
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Spectatorstaff 
ThenumberofSlovakslookingforjobscontinuestogrow.
Photo:Sme-PavolFuntál
US: Nominee led 'Sportsmen for Obama'
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Sedgwick donated a reported $28,000 toDemocratic Party candidates in 2008, raisedover $200,000 for the Obama campaign, andgifted $10,000 to the inauguration. A keen birdhunter, he tried to present the futurepresidentasanallyofhunters.“Maybe on the surface you wouldn’tthink that a guy from Chicago would be anatural advocate for sportsmen,” he said atthe Democratic National Convention inDenver, “but Obama wants to open up ac-cess on public lands to hunting andfishing”.Sedgwick aimed to organise a chapter of “Sportsmen for Obama” in every state tocounter the gun lobby’s portrayal of thecandidateashostiletoitsinterests.“I won’t argue with anybody that this isanuphillbattle,hesaid.In 1978, at the age of 29, Sedgwick wasediting the energy sector newsletter CoalOutlook, when the owner suddenly an-nounced he intended to sell. Rather thanmove on, Sedgwick bought a 70 percentstakeinthepublicationfor$70,000.“My whole motivation for buying thenewsletter was protecting my job,” he toldtheWashingtonPost.Over a decade, Sedgwick turned his ac-quisition into the Pasha Publications pub-lishinghouse,with15newsletters.“It is rewarding work,” he told the NewYork Times in 1989. “We do a lot of very ar-cane stuff of interest just to a specific audi-ence. But when you call a source, they say,‘You really know what you're talkingabout.’” In 1998 he sold the energy wing of the publisher to the Financial Times groupfor$17.8million.Sedgwick also took the unusual step of suing a subscriber, the Enmark firm of Dal-las, for photocopying his newsletters anddistributing them to other offices. Enmarksettledoutofcourt.“Since we don’t take advertising, it’s areal financial issue for us,” said Sedgwick, whose subscribers paid up to $1,000 annu-allyforhispublications.In 1992, on receiving an award, he saidof the incident “if there’s anything to belearned from this, it’s that it pays to sue yourcustomers.”One of Sedgwick’s ancestors, Theodore(1746-1813), was the fifth speaker of theHouse of Representatives. Another, JohnSedgwick, was a general with the UnionforcesduringtheUSCivilWar.He was killed by a sniper in 1862. Ac-cording to historical accounts, just beforehisdeathGeneralSedgwickhadbeenurginghissoldiersnottoduckenemyfire.“I’m ashamed of you, dodging that way,” he is reported to have said. “At thisdistance,theycouldn’thitanelephant.”
Someobserversarepredictingmorebadnewsaboutjobsforthefirstsixmonthsof2010

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