Bratislava
Bulgarian and Romanian culture presented at Bratislava Castle

NEW EU-member states Bulgaria and Romania are showcasing their countries' history and culture through an exhibition on the Western Terrace of Bratislava Castle.
"Following our accession to the EU (on January 1, 2007), a third alphabet - Cyrillic - has appeared on the European Union's websites, and I believe that our thousand-year-old cultural tradition will contribute to [the Union's] further development," Bulgaria's Ambassador to Slovakia, Ognian Garkov, said at the exhibition's opening on January 15. Several Slovak MPs and representatives from foreign embassies attended the event.
The photo exhibition ran to January 26 and showed visitors pictures of Bulgaria as a country of ancient civilisations and medieval heritage.
"The exhibition has already visited Beijing, New York, London, Berlin, and other cities, and from Bratislava it will go on to Milan and Stockholm," photographer Ivo Hadjimishev told the TASR news agency.
Unlike past exhibitions, this one featured the Bulgaria and Romania of today - including photographs from Sibiu (Romania), which is the European Capital of Culture for 2007. "The town is like an open museum," said Romania's ambassador to Slovakia, Valerica Epure.

Bratislava
From Bratislava to Paris

Bratislava will be connected to up to 17 major European cities by high-speed train lines as part of the European Union Rail Corridors Development Project, the Plus Jeden Deň daily reported on January 16.
This unique project will cost Slovakia Sk17.5 billion (€500 million). High-speed trains will connect Bratislava to Paris via Vienna. New railway tracks will connect Bratislava airport to the railway stations in the city's Predmestie and Petržala districts, from where the trains will head to Austria. Construction on the Slovak section of the new network is scheduled to begin in three years.

High Tatras
Recent storm damage assessed

THE STRONG winds that hit the High Tatra mountains two weeks ago caused structural damage amounting to Sk2.04 million (€58,300).
The damage to buildings involved mainly destroyed roofs, cornices, plaster, wooden siding, and fences.
On the evening of January 11, fallen trees disrupted train services on the Tatra electric-railway line between Štrbské Pleso and Vyšné Hágy. The debris was removed and train services resumed on January 12.
The High Tatras National Park state forests (SL TANAP) said on January 23 that strong winds had uprooted more than 2,500 trees, accounting for some 1,850 cubic metres of wood. Most of the felled trees were in the protected areas of Dolný Smokovec and Oravice. Some 500 cubic metres worth of wood debris was left on the ground in each of these areas following the storm.
SL TANAP management said that the damaged tree trunks have already been removed from places accessible to the public, especially on marked hiking paths that aren't closed at this time of year.

Ivanka pri Nitre
Spinal care centre project nixed

THE Sk14 billion spinal care centre investment project in Ivanka pri Nitre that was announced by the Galenos Austria consortium probably will not happen.
Spokesperson for the Slovak Economy Ministry Branislav Zvara told SITA that the investor has put forward a condition that Economy Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek considers to be unacceptable.
"Although [these] foreign investors want to bring investments to Slovakia, their condition of an agreement that assures that if the business is not profitable for them, the government will settle all the debts, is unacceptable for the minister," said Zvara.
A second problem preventing the project from being realized is land ownership conflicts.
The Galenos Austria consortium announced their plan to build a European Integrated Spinal Centre in Ivanka pri Nitre to treat patients with back and spinal cord injuries.
The investor planned to sign an investment contract in January and to start building in the summer or in the autumn of this year. The consortium wanted to employ 2,000 people at the centre and serve patients from all over Europe.

Slovakia
Slovak Telecom ends telegram service

Telephone landline operator Slovak Telekom (ST) has cancelled its telegram-services contract with the state-owned Slovenská Pošta (Slovak Post Office), officially putting an end to telegram service in Slovakia.
"Slovak Telekom has monitored the efficiency of the telegram service, and based on a steady fall in demand for telegram deliveries, discontinued this service as on January 1, 2007," ST spokesman Jana Burdová told TASR.
This particular service has long been unprofitable for ST, bringing the company an annual net loss of tens of millions of crowns for several years in a row.
The number of telegrams ordered fell by 83.3 percent between 2000-2005. ST was bound by the regulatory Telecommunications Office to provide the service until the end of 2006.
ST has also cancelled Call Collect and international telegram services. It suggests that people use text message and e-mail services - which are expanding quickly in Slovakia - as an alternative to telegrams.

Hejce
Plane crash victims commemorated

A monument to the victims of last year's military aircraft accident in Hejce is being built near the site of the crash.
photo: SITA

A CEREMONY comme-morating the first anniversary of the crash of the military aircraft AN-24, which claimed the lives of 42 personnel, took place in the Hungarian village of Hejce on January 19.
Slovak Defence Minister František Kašický and Army Chief of Staff Ľubomír Bulík as well as Hungarian Defence State Secretary József Bali and Deputy Army Chief of Staff János Mikita, laid wreaths on Borsó mountain, the scene of the January 19, 2006, crash of the aircraft returning from the KFOR peace mission in Kosovo.
Relatives and the bereaved arrived in Hejce from all over Slovakia, including the crash's only survivor, Martin Farkaš, and his wife Michaela, to lay flowers and light candles at the scene of the fatal accident.
Clergy representing both nations blessed the cornerstone of a future monument that will be built in the victims' honour near a local church.