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Slovak party heads agree timetable to change coalition deal

Reuters

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovak government leaders have agreed on a timetable to change their coalition agreement, a government spokeswoman said on Tuesday, a step toward ending a political crisis after one junior party quit the coalition last week.

The Slovak National Party (SNS) had called for a new deal which the party said should better distribute gains from solid economic growth. It would also give it more influence.

Prime Minister Robert Fico, chairman of the coalition's strongest member Smer, SNS chief Andrej Danko and Most-Hid leader Bela Bugar were supposed to meet over the SNS demands later on Tuesday, but a government spokeswoman said that meeting was no longer needed.

"(The party chairmen) agreed on a timetable to prepare an amendment to the coalition agreement with a specific regard to priorities of the government's program," Beatrice Szaboova said in an emailed joint statement from the leaders.

SNS is arguing for the introduction of annual bonuses equal to two months' wages for all employees in the private and public sectors, more government investment to revitalize Slovakia's thermal spa resorts and the creation of a national airline.

Independent economists said meeting these conditions could endanger Slovakia's plans to reach a balanced budget by 2019. The opposition says the SNS is trying to divert attention from a row over the distribution of 300 million euros ($353 million) in EU subsidies by the education department, which it controls.

The coalition parties are due to meet at the first government session after the summer recess on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Most-Hid declined to give any details on the timetable agreed by the party chiefs and said the amendment still needed to be negotiated.

(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Writing by Robert Muller)