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Unthinkable for Slovaks to stall rescue fund: EU

Euro coins and Slovak crown banknotes are seen in Bratislava on January 5, 2009.


It would be unthinkable for Slovakia to stall progress towards a stronger euro zone response to the debt crisis by failing to secure parliamentary approval for a beefed-up rescue fund, the European Union's executive said.

Slovakia is the biggest remaining obstacle to implementing new powers for the European Financial Stability Facility, with its junior ruling Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party having so far refused to back the expansion in parliament.

That leaves the government short of the votes needed to pass changes agreed by euro zone leaders in July and which most euro zone nations' parliaments have already approved.

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Responding to mounting external pressure -- including one-on-one talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova -- the SaS said on Friday it was open for discussions on finding a compromise.

Speaking after meeting Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic, European Union Commissioner Maros Sefcovic said Slovakia was risking its reputation by hesitating to approve the expansion.

"I cannot imagine renegotiation of (EFSF) documents and agreements beyond what they were agreed ... after so many countries, including Germany, approved it," Mr. Sefcovic, the Commissioner for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration, said.

The EFSF's new powers will include the ability to extend preliminary credit lines to distressed countries and, in some cases, buy sovereign bonds.

Slovakia is one of four countries in the 17-member euro zone yet to vote on the EFSF. Germany approved the EFSF boost on Thursday and Austria votes on Friday.

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