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Slovakia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Slovakia has a fragile government coalition, comprising centre-left, centre-right and nationalist parties. A cabinet reshuffle – triggered by public demonstrations following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée in February 2018 – temporarily defused the risk of early parliamentary elections. Although charges were brought against several murder suspects in September 2018, the mastermind is still believed to be at large. Public pressure is likely to continue and could heighten if the murder investigation fails to progress or if major allegations of corruption are made involving prominent members of the three coalition parties. The possibility of a snap election prior to March 2020 therefore remains elevated. Tackling widespread corruption and strengthening public trust in state institutions, such as the police force and judiciary, will remain the government's foremost challenge but high-level political corruption is likely to undermine efforts at improvement. The government therefore is likely to focus further on adopting popular business-friendly policies including plans to reform the tax administration system to simplify and increase tax collection. Slovakia is the only Visegrad Four country that has adopted the euro as its currency and will aim to serve as the EU's go-to partner within that group. It maintains tight fiscal policy and plans to bring the budget deficit near to balance in 2019. With four automotive plants, Slovakia is the world's biggest car producer per capita, but that reliance exposes the economy to vulnerability if global demand weakens. With the new Jaguar Land Rover plant boosting exports, Slovak GDP growth is projected at 3.9% in 2019 (from 4.2% in 2018). Household consumption and fixed investment also will be strong, benefiting from a tight labour market and EU transfers. Downside risks stem from external factors and domestic political uncertainty. Other domestic challenges include labour shortages, regional imbalances, and continued rapid credit growth.
Last update: February 16, 2019

Operational Outlook

Slovakia's favourable geographic location and low-cost labour are attractive for FDI. Strikes are rare; wage negotiations are the main reason for industrial action in privately owned companies, primarily in the automotive sector. However, elevated corruption and administrative red tape, alongside incomplete infrastructure and lack of skilled labour, hamper Slovakia's regional competitiveness. Corruption allegations affect all echelons of public administration. Public procurement and allocation of EU subsidies are particularly likely to be vulnerable to corruption. The current government promised to increase transparency in public tenders and state institutions, but recent accusations of high-level political corruption threaten to mar any visible improvement.

Last update: December 11, 2018

Terrorism

Moderate

Although part of NATO, Slovakia generally keeps a low international profile, making it an unlikely target for terrorist attacks staged by Islamist militant groups. However, if attacks were launched, the most likely target would be government and parliament premises, embassies, public transport and large shopping centres in the capital, Bratislava, and Košice. The foremost risk to property or personnel stems from the protests organised by extreme-right and activist groups (such as those advocating animal welfare) as well as organised crime activities. However, the level of organised crime has reduced dramatically over the past decade, with several high-profile members of criminal groups now imprisoned or awaiting trial.

Last update: December 6, 2018

War Risks

The risk of interstate war between Slovakia and any other country is low. The country is part of the EU, NATO, and the regional Visegrad Four (V4) group, which means that any potential conflicts are more likely to be solved through diplomatic channels rather than military conflict. Although some bilateral issues exist (such as the nuclear power issue with Austria and the issue of the treatment of ethnic minorities with Hungary), these are highly unlikely to escalate into an armed conflict. Slovakia has a sizeable Hungarian ethnic minority (around 10% of the population). However, the risk of civil war is highly improbable.

Last update: December 6, 2018

Social Stability

Elevated

The risk of protests is likely to remain elevated, stemming from anti-government/anti-corruption protests triggered by the murder of an investigative journalist in February 2018. Although large (some demonstrations were largest in the country's post-communist history), they are likely to remain peaceful. The foremost risk stems from demonstrations and counter-demonstrations organised by far-right/nationalist groups. The anti-immigration protests are likely to attract activists from neighbouring countries and turn violent either due to fights between protesters and police or between pro- and anti-immigration activists. It is highly unlikely that businesses will be directly targeted.

Last update: December 6, 2018

Health Risk

Very high

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: November 28, 2013

Natural Risks

Very high

The country often suffers from summer floods following heavy rain. In 1998, 2002, 2006, and in 2013, the country experienced severe flooding that left dozens dead.

Between November and March, important snowfalls can isolate some parts of the country (roads and rails cut, electricity outages, etc.).

Last update: February 13, 2018

Transportation

Moderate

Despite the small number of highways, the motorway is generally well developed. However secondary and peri-urban roads may be in bad condition (deformed pavement, pothole, indication failure, etc.).

Roads in remote areas are often poorly maintained and can be dangerous. Extreme vigilance is advised at night due to the lack of proper street lighting. Horse-drawn carts, agricultural vehicles, cyclists, and vehicles without taillights or reflectors are common. Moreover, drivers can be very aggressive.

Vehicles are required to be fitted with snow tires from November 1 until May 1. Dipped-beam headlamps are required to be turned on during both the day and night. It is necessary for drivers to display a sticker on a vehicle windshield, authorizing the circulation on highways and national roads, otherwise punishable by fine. This sticker, which has a limited period, is available at border posts, post offices and at some gas stations. Driving under influence is strictly forbidden.

Travelers should note that few domestic flights are operated in Slovakia.

Trains are slow but the railway network is dense and in a good state.

It should also be noted that public transportation (tramways, bus and trolley bus in Bratislava) is reliable and well-developed.

Taxis are usually reliable and inexpensive. It is advised to order a taxi ahead. Riders should check the meter and ask for a price estimate before using the taxi. It is recommended not to use informal taxi companies.

Last update: February 13, 2018

Practical Information

Climate

Slovakia has a continental climate. The hottest and driest regions are the southern and eastern plains. The coldest month is January (-2°C average) and the hottest are July and August (21°C average). The period from May to September is generally quite sunny, despite periodic thunderstorms.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +421
Police: 158
Fire Dept.: 150
Ambulance: 155

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: January 22, 2014