July - 17 - 2011
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Slovakia is beset, like so much of Eurasia, by natural disasters.

Radicova to the rescue
Prime Minister Iveta Radičová interrupted her holiday in Croatia and went straight back to Slovakia due to the floods that have hit the Upper Nitra area especially hard, Radičová’s spokesman Rado Baťo told the TASR newswire on August 16.

It was announced that Radičová had set aside €300,000 from the premier’s reserve as relief for areas in Upper Nitra hit by the floods at the weekend. At the same time, the prime minister expressed her sorrow over the loss of human life and sent her condolences to the bereaved.

First auction of natural gas
Slovakia’s dominant gas firm SPP has arranged the country’s first auction of natural gas at which it plans to sell supplies for 2011 and potentially the following two years, it said on Auguat 19.

The successful bidder will offer the best price per 1 MWh of gas during the auction, which is to be held between August 20 to September 8, SPP said.

“We are expecting interest in this form of gas sale primarily from the side of large industrial customers, as well as from the side of gas traders…,” SPP Gas and Trade Division Director Dusan Randuska said in a statement.

SPP, which operates a pipeline carrying around 70 percent of Europe’s consumption of Russian natural gas, said it expects both Slovak and foreign businesses to take part in the auction and will announce the successful bidder on September 9th.

Slovakia opts out
Slovakia’s new government came under fire from its eurozone partners, particularly Germany, on August 18 after its parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject taking part in a European Union aid package for the troubled Greek economy.

The German government criticised the Slovak parliament’s decision in unusually harsh terms. “All member states committed themselves politically to assistance for Greece,” said a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Every member relies on solidarity; solidarity is no one-way street.”

Two strong women head to head
Ms Merkel would address the issue when Iveta Radicova, the Slovak prime minister, visited the German capital on August 25, he added.

The European Commission in Brussels also reacted angrily to the news. “It is a breach of the commitment undertaken by Slovakia in the Eurogroup,” Olli Rehn, the economics and monetary affairs commissioner, said in the wake of the vote. “I can only regret this breach of solidarity within the euro area and I expect the Eurogroup and the Ecofin Council to return to the matter in their next meeting.”

A Commission spokesman added that Slovakia had itself benefited from the increased financial stability that resulted from the bail-out facility it originally endorsed.

But he stressed that the loan package to Greece was not put at risk by Slovakia, which was to provide just over 1 per cent of the total needed for the €80bn ($104bn, £66bn) bail-out.

The poor do not bail out the rich
Slovakia, which is much poorer than Greece, adopted the euro last year, and as a member of the zone was expected to provide more than €800m, its portion of the rescue package that saved Greece this year.

Slovakia has a per capita average inome of $21,000 or thereabouts at purchasing power parity, while Greece has a per capita GDP of abouit $32,000. Slovakia embarked on a bout of painful economic reforms in 1998 that transformed it into one of Europe’s top economic performers.

Ms Radicova, who took power after parliamentary elections in June, had long been opposed to bailing out Greece and her predecessor, Robert Fico, had been lukewarm about the scheme.

The parliament voted on August 18 by 69-2 to reject the Greek aid package. Former Premier Mikulas Dzurinda, the foreign minister, explained that Greece’s troubles were the result of “irresponsible decisions” made by member states and commercial banks, and that his country was still pro-European.

While rejecting the Greek package, the Slovak parliament did back the country’s €4.4bn participation in the larger €440bn European Financial Stability Facility, aimed at preventing the spread of the Greek crisis.

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