Taming Slovakia’s Tatra Tiger?

Taming Slovakia’s Tatra Tiger?

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- On Aug. 16, the new Slovakian government, led by center-left Prime Minister Robert Fico, blocked the planned partial privatization of the airport in the country's capital, Bratislava. The government rejected a $370 million offer by a Viennese consortium aiming to offset the need for a new runway at Vienna International by integrating the airports of the "twin cities" of Vienna and Bratislava, which are just 33 miles apart and thus well-suited to serve as twin hubs serving increased air traffic to the region.

The deal is the first large privatization to be annulled in Slovakia in the past four years, and the first such intervention by the new coalition government, which came to power after June elections. It remains to be seen whether the incident is a harbinger of Slovakia's future, and signals an abandonment of the liberal reform that has fueled Slovakia's impressive economic growth in the last several years.

You're not alone if you confuse Slovakia and Slovenia, or if you thought Bratislava was a city in the Balkans, rather than situated in the heart of Europe. But the surprising ascendancy of this ex-communist Central European nation of six million is a story worth knowing. And with a new government in power elected largely on campaign promises to undo many of the drastic economic measures that spurred Slovakia's rise, it is also a story worth keeping an eye on.

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