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Country profile for Slovakia

Provided Courtesy of Security Exchange 24

Risk Rating

Red (High Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are dangerous.

Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Amber (Moderate Risk) InTouch advice:

Some parts of the country are dangerous.

Travel with caution.

Green (Low Risk)
Green (Low Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are safe.

Travel freely.

General Information

  • Capital: Bratislava
  • Major Languages: Slovak
  • Currency: Euro
  • Timezone: GMT +1:00

Country Map

Map of Slovakia

Slovakia became a member of the EU in 2004 and joined the Eurozone in 2009.  The country has one of the fastest economic growth rates in the EU and there are limited security concerns facing visitors to the country. Due to Slovakia’s limited involvement in Iraq there terrorist threat is increased.  However there have not been any reported incidents and the country are not considered to be a high-profile target.

Crime rates are relatively low in Slovakia with petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing and bag-snatching the most likely to affect foreigners.  The risk of petty crime is increased in major urban areas, especially on public transport and around areas of tourism.  Visitors should remain vigilant and undertake standard safety precautions.

Alerts for Slovakia

Erin Brockovich wins first round of presidential elections

The first round of the presidential elections in Slovakia has been won by environmental lawyer Zuzana Caputova (aka Erin Brockovich) following a vote on Friday 16 March. According to recent reports, Brockovich beat opponent Maros Sefcovic to first place, securing 40.57 percent of the vote compared to Sefcovic's 18.66 percent. The second round of the election is expected to take place later this month on 30 March.

Slovakia to face presidential elections

Slovakia is set to face its presidential elections on Saturday. More than a dozen candidates will run for office to replace President Andrej Kiska, who is not running for another five-year term. Slovakia is facing its presidential elections after a troubled relationship between President Kiska and former Prime Minister Robert Fico, who resigned last year - Fico was replaced by his deputy, Peter Pellegrini. Despite being a largely ceremonial role, the future Slovakian president will be in charge of picking a PM and have veto power. Among the presidential contenders are Zuzana Caputova, a liberal environmentalist, and Maros Sefcovic, the VP of the European Commission. Other candidates include Supreme Court Judge Stefan Harabin and far-right Marian Kotleba. Preliminary polls suggest that Caputova and Sefcovic will head to the run-off on 30 March.

Demonstrations expected in Bratislava

Demonstrations by groups under the banner "For a Decent Slovakia" are expected to take place in Bratislava on Thursday.  Silent marches are to be staged in 50 cities beginning at 17:00 local time.  The marches will commemorate the first anniversary of the death of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancé  who was investigating police corruption and government links to the Italian mafia.  Protests over that event last year eventually led to the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico.  

Fifteen candidates submit their bids ahead of presidential vote in mid-March

Fifteen candidates have submitted their bid ahead of the presidential elections in mid-March. Slovakians will vote on 16 March to replace President Andrej Kiska, who despite having no party affiliation, publicly supported protests that led to the removal of Prime Minister Robert Fico. Although it is still unclear which candidate is likely to win, some prominent figures are running for office. They include the former European Commission VP, Marcos Sefcovic, who is being backed by the ruling Smer Party. Meanwhile, the opposition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) is supporting Robert Mistrik. Other candidates include Supreme Court Judge Stefan Harabin and the far-right leader Marian Kotleba. Although the Prime Minister is responsible for ruling the country, the president of Slovakia authorises the formation of governments and nominate judges to the constitutional court.

Five killed in house fire in Richnava

Five people, including four children, died in a house fire in the village of Richnava on 30 November.  According to reports, the fire started at around 03:00 local time, and emergency services took almost four hours to extinguish the blaze.  

Hundreds protest at detention of Greenpeace activists

Hundreds of people protested in Bratislava on Monday night, against the detention without bail of 12 Greenpeace activists.  They were detained last week while staging a protest at the country's largest brown coal mine, and scaling a tower at the lignite mine in Novaky.  They are of several different nationalities and stand accused of criminal acts, and if convicted could face up to five years in jail.  Greenpeace said that the action was non-violent, no-one was injured and there was no damage to property, and that pre-trial detention is usually only used for dangerous criminals. Both the President and the Prime Minister have questioned the decision of the court, suggesting there were better ways to deal with the young people rather than keep them in custody.

Military aircraft crashes in Zvolen

The Defence Ministry has said that a military aircraft crashed in central Slovakia on Wednesday.  The Czech-made L39 Albatros plane crashed north of the city of Zvolen in an uninhabited area.  Both pilots ejected safely.

Suspects arrested in journalist murder case

On 27 September, authorities announced that several suspects had been arrested in connection with the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in February.  Mr Kuciak and his fiance were gunned down outside their home in Bratislava, while he was working on a story about political corruption and links between Slovakian officials and the Italian mafia.  Police suspected a contract killing, and those arrested are understood to be part of an organized crime gang.  The case brought down the government, and the role of the police, who were accused of destroying evidence and inappropriately investigating Kuciak's peers, remains far from clear.   

Emergency response to measles outbreak downgraded

The state of emergency for a measles epidemic which had been declared in the Michalovce district last month has been downgraded due to a significant drop in the number of new cases, authorities reported yesterday.  Eight new cases were declared last weekend, compared to 30 in a single weekend in July. Regional hygienist Janka Staskova said that while it was possible that there may be further cases, the mass vaccination programme had obviously had an effect.  

Medical centre damaged in explosion

An explosion at the Vrkuna medical centre in Bratislava at around 05:00 local time on Monday, damaged the premises as well as some vehicles in the vicinity.  The building was empty, and no injuries were reported.  The incident was thought to have been caused by a gas leak, but investigations are under way.  

Marian Kocner detained for tax evasion

On 20 June, the National Criminal Agency of Slovakia (NAKA), arrested businessman Marian Kocner on charges of forging promissary notes with a value of over 70 million euros, and also tax evasion.  The forged promissary notes relate to a private TV channel, Markiza, and he also stands accused of avoiding VAT in real estate transfers at the Donavaly ski resort.  A police investigation will now lead to a decision as to whether Kocner can be remanded in custody.  

President Andrej Kiska not seeking second term

President Andrej Kiska has said that he is not seeking a second term in the largely ceremonial office. The pro-European politician is known as an avid opponent to former Prime Minister Robert Fico. Kiska has been one of the main supporters of street protests that led to the collapse of Fico's governing coalition - protests erupted in February after an investigative journalist and his fiancee were murdered.

Laser beam threat at Sliac airport

Slovakian authorities have stated that the security presence around Silac military airport has been strengthened because of repeated exposure to lasers, which are a potential safety threat as they can temporarily blind pilots. 

Thousands to stage anti-government protest in Bratislava

Thousands of protesters are set to take to the streets of Bratislava to demonstrate against government corruption. Demonstrators are set to march across the Namestie SNP Square on Friday from 17:00 local time. Public transportation around Stare Mesto and other downtown areas is expected to be heavily disrupted. Travellers have been advised to avoid the area as even peaceful demonstrations may suddenly turn violent.

Protests held against government corruption

Anti-government protests took place on Thursday and will continue today in several cities across Slovakia against government corruption, and to demand an independent investigation into the death of a journalist.  Jan Kuciak and his fiancee were shot in a suspected contract killing in Bratislava in February.  Mr Kuciak had been working on an investigation into the alleged misuse of European Union funds and government links to the Italian mafia.  Previous protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, who both deny any wrongdoing.   Demonstrators are also keen for a change to the law to prevent the interior minister from naming his successor in order to ensure an impartial investigation into the journalist's killing.   

President accepts PM Fico's resignation

Slovakia's President Andrej Kiska is set to accept the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico. The PM offered to quit due to mounting criticism of the government sparked by the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak. "I proposed that in order to solve the political crisis I am ready to resign as prime minister," Mr Fico told a televised news conference. Earlier this week the junior coalition party Most-Hid threatened to withdraw from the government unless new elections were scheduled.

Interior Minister resigns over journalist's death

Interior Minister Robert Kalinak has resigned following anti-government protests in Bratislava on Friday, amid a political scandal caused by the murder of a journalist and his partner.  Jan Kuciak's final unfinished article was published after the pair were murdered two weeks ago in an apparent contract killing.  The subject of the article was the infiltration of the Italian mafia into Slovakian politics and implicates a number of people close to the Prime Minister, Robert Fico.  Kalinak's resignation was the third in a matter of weeks.

President calls for government reshuffle after journalist's killing

President Andrej Kiska has called for a government reshuffle or even new elections to rebuild public trust, following the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his partner last week.  Prime Minister Robert Fico disagreed and said that the president does not have the power to dissolve a government, and that any such action would undermine the result of the 2016 elections.  Kuciak was writing an article about allegations that Italian businessmen with ties to an Italian mafia syndicate had settled in Slovakia and embezzled EU funds for years.  The article was unfinished, but was published posthumously.  Seven men were arrested in connection with the murders but were released for lack of evidence.  One of those arrested had a record of business deals with Mr Fico and his advisors.  

Prime Minister offers €1m reward in journalist murder case

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is offering a one million euro reward for information about the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his partnere who were shot dead at their home on Sunday.  An unfinished article by the 27-year-old was published overnight, linking the Italian mafia to high-level political corruption in the country.  

Journalist and partner murdered in Velka Maca

An investigative journalist and his partner have been shot dead at the weekend in their home town of Velka Mica, in an attack suspected of being connected to his work.  27-year-old Jan Kuciak had been working on an article about an alleged tax fraud in relation to luxury apartments.  Interior Minister Robert Kalinak was criticised about business dealings with a property developer last year, although he denied any wrongdoing and the case was dropped.  Prime Minister Robert Faco convened an emergency meeting with security chiefs, saying that if the murders were connected to the journalists' work, it would be an "unprecedented attack on freedom of speech and democracy in Slovakia".  Like many other ex-communist countries, Slovakia had to enact far-reaching law and justice reforms in order to qualify for EU membership. 

Slovakia in talks to buy new fighter jets

Slovakia's defence ministry reported on Friday that it was currently in talks to buy either Swedish Gripen or American F-16s fighter jets to replace its' ageing Russian fleet. Jaroslav Nad from the Slovak Security Police Institute said that the F-16s are more expensive and would take until 2023 to be deliverd, but either way, the maintenance contract they have with Russia for its' 12 MiGs would remain in place beyond its' 2019 deadline. Slovakia is due to spend around $65 billion to modernise its' military by 2030.

EU court rejects challenge to fixed migrant quotas

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected challenges to the fixed migrant quota introduced in 2015. Hungary and Slovakia both issued formal objections to the compulsory migrant relocation deal and Hungary has refused to accept any migrants since the fixed quota was brought in at the peak of the migrant crisis two years ago. The deal was originally arranged to relieve the pressure on frontline countries, such as Italy and Greece. The Czech Republic and Romania also objected to the quota; however, Hungary and Slovakia took the case to the ECJ, citing procedural mistakes and a lack of suitability as a response to the crisis. According to the BBC, the ECJ dismissed the objections, supporting the establishment of the deal by stating that the quota "contributes to enabling Greece and Italy to deal with the impact of the 2015 migrant crisis and is proportionate"

Thousands march in anti-government rally in Presov and Zilina

Thousands of students marched on the streets of Presov and Zilina on Monday in renewed anti-corruption rallies. In Zilina, western Slovakia, protest organisers underlined their intention to collect 100,000 signatures in their call to remove Interior Minister Robert Kalinak and Special Prosecutor Dusan Kovacik from office. Both politicians are blamed over their links to a notorious VAT and bribery schemes involving the government. Previous marches broke out in the capital Bratislava, but it has recently spread nationwide.

Thousands launch anti-corruption march in Bratislava

Thousands of students gathered in Bratislava's Hviezdoslav square in an anti-corruption march on Tuesday. The main demand of the protesters is the prosecution of those being investigated in the Bastenark - involving the government, including Interior Minister Robert Kalinak into VAT fraud - and Gorilla - a long-standing bribery scheme regarding foreign privatisation contracts - cases. 

Seven dead in mid-air collision of two planes

At least seven people have been killed after two planes collided near a village in western Slovakia, officials said. Media reports suggest there were about 40 people on board both aircraft. The incident took place near the village of Cerveny Kamen at about 08.30 GMT, Zuzana Farkasova, a spokeswoman for Slovak firefighters said. An ambulance and at least three helicopters were deployed to the crash site, Andrej Hirjak, a spokesman for the rescuers said. The seven victims were confirmed by the Slovak Interior Ministry.

Slovakia Data Sheet

5.4 million
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Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary