On Thursday evening, parliament approved the draft revision to the Traffic Code, which introduces the requirement to have car headlights switched on throughout the whole year when driving a car, it bans using a telephone while driving and sets out tighter sanctions for driving under the influence of alcohol.The new measures, which are to take effect on October 1, are aimed at boosting safety on roads and improving driver discipline. The aim is to reduce the number of traffic accidents and their casualties. According to the new Traffic Code, the maximum speed in towns will be reduced from 60 km/h to 50 km/h. The maximum speed limit on highways and dual carriageways crossing towns will be 90 km/h. Vehicles over 7.5 tons will not be allowed to overtake on highways and dual carriageways.
FinMin and National Bank Won’t Comment on Changeover Rate
Slovak authorities said on Thursday that they currently don’t want to comment on the future changeover rate of the Slovak koruna against the euro, which will be set next Tuesday (July 8). According to the Bloomberg agency, the European Commission proposed this rate to be at the level of the current central parity - 30.1260 SKK/EUR. ”The Finance Ministry doesn’t comment on the conversion rate,” the ministry spokesman said. The Slovak central bank (NBS) has reacted in a similar way. Bloomberg says that the EC by its proposal that the conversion rate of the koruna against the euro be 30.1260 SKK/EUR ignores the proposals of Slovakia to have a stronger, and for Slovaks a more advantageous rate.
Football Referee and MP Michel Leaves SDKU-DS Parliamentary Caucus
Slovak football referee and MP Lubos Michel informed Parliamentary Chairman Pavol Paska on Thursday that he is leaving the Opposition’s SDKU-DS caucus but will continue to adhere to right-wing policies and a pro-European orientation as an independent MP and will retain his SDKU-DS party membership. Michel, who refereed this year’s Champions League final, said the decision has been mulled over for a long time. The crucial moment came when the SDKU-DS caucus did not vote for the Treaty of Lisbon’s ratification, which was a result of the Opposition trying to pressure the Government into making changes to the Press Act earlier this year.
Foreign Affairs Ministry Lambasts Statement Made by OSCE’s Haraszti
Slovakia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Thursday it rejects the statement made earlier in the day by the representative of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Miklos Haraszti that the new Press Act has become a tool for politicians in Slovakia to browbeat the media. Haraszti delivered to the OSCE Permanent Council a regular report on the state of the freedom of media in the OSCE region, in which he mentioned several countries including Slovakia. The report said that the initial experience with the new legislation confirms that it’s an instrument of politicians. Ministry spokesman Jan Skoda said that the Slovak delegation to the OSCE has unambiguously rejected the report and refutes Haraszti’s affirmations. Slovakia considers the statements to be untrue, and now it expects Haraszti to issue a correction.
Jan Slota Believes Slovakia can Get Gabcikovo Back from SE
Jan Slota, leader of the junior member of the ruling coalition, the Slovak National Party (SNS), believes that Slovakia will manage to take the Gabcikovo hydropower station back from the power producer Slovenske Elektrarne, a.s. (SE), which has rented it for thirty years. He told a news conference given by the SNS on Thursday that the government privatization agency the National Property Fund (FNM) should file two lawsuits regarding the rent contract of the hydropower station next week. According to Slota, the Italian company Enel, controlling 66 percent in Slovenske Eletrarne, strives to agree with the Slovak Republic so that the government would not have to pay an additional SKK 2 billion for SE’s privatization, as requested by Enel. On the other hand, Enel suggests that Slovakia also not require settlement of the purchase price for an SE sale to be completed, which would mean about SKK 12 billion.
Prime Minister Fico Believes the Lisbon Treaty Can be Salvaged
In the regular Thursday afternoon parliamentary question hour of Prime Minister Robert Fico, he answered a question of Smer-SD deputy Stanislav Kubanek regarding the Lisbon Treaty. The prime minister thinks that it is possible to salvage the Lisbon Treaty, if the highest European Union representatives stop debating it and start dealing with real issues. “It is a serious mistake if the European Council wants to deal only with issues of the Lisbon Treaty and does not want to deal with matters of the steep growth in prices of food and crude oil,” the prime minister said. He continued by saying that the Irish ”no” to the EU reform treaty does not mean that the Irish have objections to the content of the Lisbon Treaty. “It was not so much about the Lisbon Treaty’s content, but about the extent to which the European Union is attractive or unattractive to the people in Europe,” he said.
Kalinak Refuses to Comment on Slota’s Statements On Malinova Case
Interior Minister Robert Kalinak refused to comment Thursday on the statements of National Party (SNS) chairman Jan Slota, who said at a press conference earlier in the day that the infamous alleged attack on Hedviga Malinova was organised by the Hungarian secret service. ”I will not comment on the case until the end of the investigation of the General Prosecutor’s office,” Kalinak said at a briefing following the adoption of the Road Act in Parliament. Slota said that Slovak politicians and media are ignoring the growing danger of Hungarian chauvinism.