Around Slovakia

Paraolympic skier Gajdičiar and biatlonist Halinárová pledge the oath.
photo: ČTK

Sixty-one Slovaks set for Olympics

SLOVAKIA is entering 61 competitors in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, the Slovak Olympic Committee announced on January 26.
One day later the Slovak Olympic Team pledged the traditional oath to President Ivan Gašparovič.
The oath was officially presented by biathlete Martina Halinárová and paraolympic skier Vladimír Gajdičiar.
Slovakia is looking for success in ice hockey, biathlon (cross-country skiing and shooting), bob sleigh and skiing.

Caves more popular in 2005

LAST year, almost 685,000 people visited 12 caves open to the public in Slovakia, an increase of 37,000 on 2004. The most popular cave was the Demänovská Jaskyňa Slobody, with 160,000 visitors, the head of the cave operation and marketing department at the Slovak Cave Administration, Ľubica Nudzíková, told the SITA news agency.
The second most popular cave was the Belianska Jaskyňa with almost 115,200 visitors last year, followed by the Demänovská Ľadová Jaskyňa ice cave with 106,300 tourists and the Dobšinská Ľadová Jaskyňa ice cave with more than 104,500 visitors.
The lowest number of visitors, 14,350, was registered at Gombasecká Jaskyňa.
Harmanecká Jaskyňa reported the highest year-on-year growth in the number of visitors since 20,400 tourists visited it last year after closing in 2004 to build a new entrance.
The number of visitors to Demänovská Ľadová Jaskyňa increased by about 6,000 on the previous year. Bystrianska Jaskyňa posted the biggest drop in the number of visitors, down by 1,900.
All caves accessible to the public have been declared national natural heritage sites. Five of them, Jasovská, Domica, Gombasecká, Ochtinská Aragonitová and Dobšinská Ľadová Jaskyňa are UNESCO world natural heritage sites.

Pezinok/Veľký Meder
Corrupt mayor gets three years

SLOVAKIA'S Special Court in Pezinok found Samuel L, the mayor of the village of Veľký Meder, guilty of taking a bribe and sentenced him to 32 months in jail.
The court also imposed an Sk300,000 (€8,000) fine on the mayor, the equivalent of the bribe he accepted, the SITA news agency reported.
The Special Court found the mayor guilty of corruption, although he originally also stood accused of abuse of powers. The police caught the mayor red-handed accepting the bribe on March 30, 2005 in a restaurant in southern Slovakia, not far from Veľký Meder.
The investigator filed charges against him and the Special Court approved taking him into pre-trial custody on April 3. The man was released during the trial on January 19, 2006.
In February 2005, the Veľký Meder municipal council decided to withdraw from a leasing contract on an area around the local open-air swimming pool. The leaseholder then visited the town's mayor Samuel L, who allegedly stated that "the issue can be settled" and promised to attempt to change the local council's view.
First, however, the mayor asked the leaseholder to cede the ownership of several plots of land to him by way of recompense; later telling the leaseholder he preferred a cash reward. The leaseholder contacted the police and informed the Office to Fight Corruption of the mayor's activities.

VIP terminal opens at airport

A NEW separate terminal for VIP passengers opened on January 24 at Bratislava's MR Štefánik Airport, with the airport's Executive Director Milan Kajan presiding over the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the TASR news agency reported.
The VIP facility, a standard service at international airports worldwide, will be in operation to serve customers taking business and private flights.
"The aim is to cut the time that our VIP customers wait for their flights, and provide them with exclusive services," airport operations manager Juraj Vitka told a news conference. Passengers going through the new terminal will have a business lounge at their disposal with access to the Internet, for example.
The airport has invested Sk16 million (€428,000) in the new facility.
"Of course, the return on investment is slower than with an ordinary terminal," Vitka said.
The terminal's capacity is 20 people for now, but it is very likely that it will be expanded, he added.

Turkish course opens at Comenius

COMENIUS University in Bratislava is introducing a course in Turkish studies, the SITA news agency reported.
Teaching on the new Turkish language and culture studies course will start at the beginning of the next academic year.
Vice President of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Administration Dr Mustafa Sahin, and Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy of Comenius University Anton Eliáš, signed a cooperation agreement on January 23.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Turkish Ambassador to Slovakia Suna Cokgur Ilicak said that in her view the time for the Turkish and Slovak peoples to rediscover each other is long overdue and that Turkish studies will naturally help understanding between both countries, as well as boost economic relations by providing human resources needed by Slovak and Turkish businesses.
On January 25, the Slovak government also approved a draft agreement on economic co-operation between Slovakia and Turkey.
The plan includes the creation of a joint economic cooperation committee, and is aimed at creating the conditions for strengthening the bilateral ties in the areas of business and tourism.

Bratislava - Komárno
Ice on the Danube River halts traffic

LARGE pieces of floating ice on the Danube River halted transport between Bratislava and Komárno on the morning of January 24.
Director of the State Navigation Administration Ján Juria told the SITA news agency that it was difficult to estimate when shipping would resume since, apart from the very low temperatures, snow was forecast for the days ahead.
Like other European countries, Slovakia is experiencing record sub-zero temperatures.

Baby girl dies of cold

A NINE-month-old baby-girl from Košice died on the afternoon of January 22 as a result of cold and possible neglect, the daily SME reported.
Twenty-three-year-old Eugen Č from Košice brought baby-girl Monika F to a hospital in Košice's Šaca district.
According to the daily, the baby's mother, 36-year-old Iveta F from Košice, brought the baby to Eugen Č and asked him to take the baby to the hospital because she did not have a health insurance card.
The baby died within one hour of Eugen Č taking her to the hospital.
"Police are investigating the case as a homicide, " said Košice police spokesman Peter Žaludek.
If the investigation proves that the mother caused the death of her daughter, she faces between two and five years behind bars.

Cold damages university radiators

AROUND 150 radiators were damaged in Košice University as a result of the freezing cold that swept across Slovakia in the recent weeks.
At the beginning of the fourth week of January, just when temperatures hit record lows, the freezing water damaged the radiators, the daily SME reported.
Measures to tackle the problem were approved immediately. Dean Stanislav Szabo said that the main building of the faculty was not suited for similar measures because of its architecture. The pressure of the ice cracked some of the older radiators and also damaged water pipes.
Szabo estimated the damages at Sk2-3 million (€53,000-80,000).

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