MORNING NEWS HIGHLIGHTS - Saturday, March 2, 2024 - 9 a.m.

2. marca 2024 9:00
TASR brings a quick morning overview of the most important events seen in Slovakia on the previous day (Friday, March 1): KOSICE - A Swedish firm called Nexer Group is considering an investment in Kosice, the city authority announced on its social network on Friday. "The plans of the Swedish firm, specialising in customised IT services for its clients, are tied to the construction of a production facility by Swedish car maker Volvo in the village of Valaliky. The new investor could bring dozens of new jobs with high added value to Kosice," claimed the city, adding that its representatives have discussed options of future cooperation with Nexer Group. "Representatives of the company highlighted the potential of Kosice and, if they decide to come to the metropolis of the east, they wish to participate actively in the city's development," stated the post. BRATISLAVA - Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok (Voice-SD) announced a recovery plan set to be introduced for the state-owned Automobile Repair Company of the Interior Ministry over a loss generated by the company's IT division, TASR learnt on Friday. "The Automobile Repair Company will be revived. There won't be any senseless projects here," the minister claimed at a press conference on Friday. He pointed out that the IT division was founded under the tenure of former interior minister Roman Mikulec ('Slovakia' party/2020-23). According to Sutaj Estok, the IT division generated the loss of more than a million euros in 2023, which carried over into the company's overall loss. Because of this, the company will have its basic capital increased by €2 million, with the minister not ruling out even legal action. He proposes to have all state-run IT projects administered under the aegis of a single institution. In his response, Mikulec claimed that Sutaj Estok needed a cover story to bolster the company's basic capital and underlined that both the IT division and the entire stockholder company had prospered in the past. "It worked. All that was needed was to continue the projects and take interest in acquisition of new orders," said Mikulec. BRATISLAVA - The Transport Ministry is attempting to force the city of Bratislava to do away with bicycle lanes on the Vajanske Nabrezie bank of the Danube with its amendment to the Road Act, Bratislava mayor Matus Vallo posted on a social network on Friday. "We've been registering since autumn an effort by young Bratislava lawmakers from Smer, later joined also by the Transport Ministry, to force us to eliminate bicycle lanes on Vajanskeho Nabrezie. Today, this effort has taken the form of an amendment to the Road Act," claimed the mayor. In the bill, the Transport Ministry proposes to expand its powers, so that it can carry out state supervision over roads of 1st-3rd class and local roads, in case there is an urgent public interest or special circumstances. "A novelty the bill introduces are astronomical fines for failing to fulfil the Transport Ministry's directives. The first fine equals €200,000 and, subsequently, if the local authority won't remedy the situation within 60 days, the sum increases to €600,000 and it can be imposed repeatedly until the political wishes of the ministry are accommodated," stated Vallo, adding that there will be no option of appeal against the Transport Ministry's fines. This is the second road bill sponsored by the Transport Ministry under the incumbent government. The previous one, in which the ministry proposed to expand its powers to assume control over traffic signage and traffic equipment was withdrawn and revised in the face of criticism from local authorities. In his social network post, Vallo criticised the fact that the Transport Ministry has once again submitted another amendment to the bill without any expert discussion and in a fast-tracked legislative process. "There's plenty of urgent problems in this state that can no longer go unaddressed and where the state should take the initiative, but I dare to say that the cycle lanes on Vajanskeho or traffic solutions in towns and villages are not it," added the mayor. BRATISLAVA/GREENSVILLE - Slovakia has officially claimed its first two US-made F-16 fighter aircraft, with the handover ceremony taking place at the Lockheed Martin factory in Greenville, South Carolina in the presence of Slovak Defence Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD), TASR learnt on Friday. Both aircraft will be used in the USA to train Slovak technicians before their departure to Slovakia. The delivery of the F-16 fighters will mark the beginning of a new era for Slovakia's supersonic air force, agreed Kalinak and Lockheed Martin vice-president OJ Sanchez. The Defence Ministry noted that Slovakia will be the first European country to have the latest F-16 version. According to the ministry, the fighter jets will help to ensure that Slovakia will once again protect its airspace with its own resources. Slovakia concluded a contract for a total of fourteen US-made F-16 C/D Block 70 fighter aircraft in late 2018. The delivery of the jets has been delayed due to the pandemic. The first of the aircraft should arrive in Slovakia in mid-2024. BRATISLAVA - Had a presidential election taken place in late February, it would have been won by Parliamentary Chair Peter Pellegrini (Voice-SD) on 51.7 percent of the votes, ahead of ex-foreign affairs minister Ivan Korcok on 48.3 percent, a poll carried out by Median SK agency on behalf of public broadcaster RTVS has shown. Korcok would have won the first round on 36 percent, followed by Pellegrini on 32.7 percent, ex-justice minister Stefan Harabin on 11.2 percent, former premier Igor Matovic on 4.9 percent and diplomat Jan Kubis on 3.2 percent. Candidates Krisztian Forro, Andrej Danko, Marian Kotleba, Patrik Dubovsky, Robert Svec and Milan Nahlik would all have garnered less than 3 percent of the votes. The poll was carried out on a sample of 1,214 people between February 23 and February 27. BRATISLAVA - The opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party on Friday presented its slate for the upcoming European Parliament elections. The slate will be headed by SaS leader Richard Sulik, who will be followed by MEP Eugen Jurzyca and MP Vladimira Marcinkova. Other names on the list will include, for instance, MPs Jana Bitto Ciganikova and Juraj Krupa, along with ex-state secretaries Karol Galek and Jan Oravec. Sulik claimed that the slate is solid in terms of the candidates' expertise. The party is set to present its election programme in approximately two weeks. "It will be much more extensive than in the past. This shows that the European Union is a much bigger part of our everyday life today than it was 15 years ago," said Sulik. The European Parliament elections in Slovakia will take place on June 8. Slovaks will elect a total of 15 MEPs for five-year terms. mf
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