Slovakia. According to Countryaah, police were charged in June with brutality and assault on a raid against a Roman settlement in the city of Moldava nad Bodvou in southeastern Slovakia. Over 60 police officers participated in the raids, in which more than 30 people were injured, among them a small child. According to authorities, the police were looking for two suspected criminals.
During the year, the 14th wall in the country was built to separate a space-dominated residential area from other local residents. It happened in Slovakia’s second largest city Košice, where residents complained of theft and disorder. The municipality said that the wall was erected without permission and that the local district council was responsible. Košice was one of the EU’s two European capitals of culture in 2013 (the other was Marseille), and the wall aroused upset feelings in the EU. The Culture Commissioner in Brussels urged the city to demolish the wall, which she said was contrary to the EU’s stance on racism.
Of Slovakia’s 5.5 million residents, roughly 100,000 are officially identified as Roma, but according to other figures, over 5% of the population is Roma. They have complained of discrimination, and many live in deep poverty with poorer health and literacy than the country’s average. In the designated district of Košice, about 8,000 Roma live in slum and misery, in apartment buildings that were built to accommodate about 2,500 people. Unemployment is almost total, and the garbage is in drives below balconies without railings. Critics felt that the city should renovate the area, as the Capital of Culture received the equivalent of half a billion SEK in EU grants.
In November’s local elections, Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Social Democratic Government Party succeeded and won the governorship election in six of eight regions. In the Banská Bystrica region of central Slovakia, however, a right-wing extremist prevailed. Nationalist Marian Kotleba, surprisingly, won against the incumbent Social Democratic governor in the second round and gained over 55% of the vote.
The former teacher Kotleba leads the ultranationalist party Our Slovakia but was previously leader of a now-banned neo-Nazi party. He has become notorious for leading marches against the Roma, wearing Nazi uniforms, holding extremist speeches and being prosecuted for racist propaganda. The Jews in Slovakia expressed concern over the election of Kotleba, and the European Jewish Congress demanded a European action plan against Nazi parties.
The Banská Bystrica region has Slovakia’s second highest unemployment rate, which is believed to be an explanation for dissatisfaction in Kotleba. He has demanded cuts in social contributions to “parasites”. However, Kotleba risked isolation on his governor post as Social Democrats and Christian Democrats took control of the regional assembly.
Slovakia’s economy was expected to grow by just under one percent during the year, more than the government originally anticipated. It was hoped that growth would be sufficient for the 2013 budget deficit to fall below 3%, which is the requirement for euro area countries such as Slovakia. The budget deficit was 8% in 2009 and has since dropped steadily.