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Slovakia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The new centre-right coalition government controls a constitutional parliamentary majority. This, alongside the parties’ common goal to fight corruption, will assure its stability in 2020. Beyond 2021, its longevity will depend on its response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus outbreak and finding common ground on contentious social issues where their policies differ. The government will struggle to deliver on its pre-election promises, delayed by the COVID-19 virus outbreak. These include balancing economic growth across regions, boosting R&D and innovation, and fighting corruption; the latter particularly in judiciary and public procurement. Although these reforms are still likely to progress throughout 2020, they will face delays, as the government’s policies will focus on responding to the outbreak. The COVID-19 virus impact brings considerable uncertainty for Slovakia’s economy, and the worse-than-anticipated first-quarter results have triggered a further downgrade of our 2020 forecast in June. IHS Markit is now projecting a GDP decline of 7.7% in 2020, after growth of 2.4% in 2019. The country has been successful in containing the spread of the virus and has reopened the economy, but its reliance on exports (accounting for 93% of its 2019 GDP) represents a key vulnerability. Slovakia’s first-quarter GDP results were among the weakest in the EU, affected by deteriorating net exports and slumping investments. The automotive industry is especially important: with four automotive plants, Slovakia is the world's biggest car producer per capita. All four companies temporarily halted output in late March and are restarting only gradually. A quick economic revival will depend on external demand and the success of government stimulus measures aimed at encouraging companies to avoid layoffs. After reaching record lows in 2019, Slovakia’s unemployment rate is rising significantly in 2020, with the potential to dampen household demand.
Last update: June 18, 2020

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 vulnerable. The new centre-right government has a strong mandate to address this problem and reforms are likely in several sectors, including judiciary and state procurement.

Last update: June 17, 2020

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. The foremost risk to property or personnel stems from the protests organised by extreme-right and activist groups (e.g., environmentalists) 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.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Crime

Crime rates have been falling since Slovakia attained independence in 1993. On average, fewer than 10% of Slovaks report crime or violence annually. The decline in criminal activity has been notable in theft, economic crime, and violent crimes. Nonetheless, extremism is rising: several members of the opposition Kotleba’s-People’s Party Our Slovakia (Kotlebovci-Ľudová Strana Naše Slovensko: K-LSNS), including its leader, have been charged and/or found guilty of propagating hate crime. In May 2019, a perpetrator was jailed for six years for a racially motivated attack, which resulted in the death of a Filipino national. In terms of crime overall, the Bratislava district remains the most affected.

Last update: June 17, 2020

War Risks

The risk of interstate war between Slovakia and any other country is and is likely to remain 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: June 17, 2020

Social Stability

Elevated

The risk of protests has considerably decreased after February 2020, when the centre-right Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (Obyčajní Ľudia a Nezávislé Osobnosti: OLaNO) party won the parliamentary election on a strong anti-corruption platform. Prior to that, Slovakia saw the largest anti-government and anti-corruption demonstrations in its post-communist history, which were triggered by the murder of an investigative journalist in February 2018. Despite their size, all rallies remained peaceful. The current foremost risk stems from demonstrations and counter-demonstrations organised by far-right/nationalist groups, which pose a moderate injury risk. It is highly unlikely that businesses will be directly targeted.

Last update: June 17, 2020

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: April 5, 2019

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: April 5, 2019

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: April 5, 2019

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: April 5, 2019