Social Inclusion through Microenterprise Development
Elgar original reference
* Allan Bussard and Beata Dobova** 1 National context Slovakia (formerly part of Czechoslovakia) went through a radical socio-economic transformation beginning with the Velvet Revolution in November, 1989. In January 2003, Slovakia became an independent state. During the 1990s, the governments alternated between what could be broadly termed ‘nationalist/reform Socialist’ and ‘Right wing liberal’. However, the broad direction (with some uncertainty during the years when Vladimir Meciar was Prime Minister) was toward a market economy, integration into the EU and NATO. The general outcome of these reforms was achieved, and in May 2004 Slovakia entered the EU, together with its immediate neighbours, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Slovakia’s population in 2006 was 5 447 000, and is basically stable. The largest cities are Bratislava and Kosice, with populations of approximately 450 000 and 250 000 respectively. Thus, most people live in small centres and rural areas. The country’s rural character affects the general economic indicators, primarily the stubborn nature of unemployment, which is mainly a rural phenomenon. However, despite the uncertain path of economic reform, and the persistent unemployment, general economic indicators are increasingly favourable (see Table 10.1). Slovakia’s GDP growth remains high, at 9.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2007 (up from 9.0 per cent in the first quarter) (Slovak Statistical Office online database). This continues to confirm the country as the fastest-growing economy in central Europe, and analysts say the growth remains healthy and not inflationary (EBRD, 2006). Slovakia is on track to adopt the euro...
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