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Slovakia
Poultry union wants bird flu loss compensation

Boys whip girls with willow twigs and splash water on them, who, in return, give the boys a decorated egg and tie a ribbon around their whips. This Easter tradition is still celebrated in much of Slovakia. From the early morning hours of Easter Monday (April 17), groups of men armed with willow twigs and buckets of water, in some regions even dressed in folk costumes and accompanied with music, set out on their annual trip around town. The tradition was originally believed to purify the soul and body, but is thought of today as just good fun.
photo: SME - Ján Krošlák

THE SLOVAK poultry industry closed last year with a profit of Sk32.5 million (€871,300), which was a dramatic improvement from the Sk316.8-million loss it experienced in 2004. "Poultry processing companies in Slovakia invested a lot into meeting European Union hygenic criteria in 2004," said Vladimír Baštek, the executive director of the Slovak Union of Poultry Producers (UHS) at a press conference on April 5.
However, unfavourable information on the occurrence of bird flu had disturbed the companies' consolidation and integration into EU markets in 2005, he said, adding that veterinary measures against bird flu, as well as losses in poultry-raising and meat production, have cost the industry Sk450 million to Sk500 million during the last five months.
As a result, poultry stocks have grown up to 7,000 tonnes and prices have decreased to Sk39-40 per kilogramme.
Baštek warned that continued hard times might result in a reduction of the sector's labour force, currently at 4,250 people, as well as in other related sectors, such as the production of fodder mixtures and primary agriculture production.
To avoid this, Baštek proposes the government pay Sk2 per kilogramme of slaughter poultry to compensate poultry producers for damage caused by the bird flu. This would account for an aggregate support of Sk100 million.
The union also proposes allocation of additional Sk27 million in compensation for poultry storage and Sk10 million for a media campaign to support consumption of poultry meat and its products.


Bratislava
Pope John Paul II statue unveiled

A STATUE of Pope John Paul II was unveiled in front of the Church of the Holy Family in the Bratislava's

Pope John Paul II watches over Petržalka's citizens.
photo: ČTK

district of Petržalka on April 2 to commemorate the first anniversary of the pontiff's death.
Auxiliary Bishop of the Bratislava-Trnava Diocese Ján Orosch blessed the statue in the presence of clergymen, local council officials, celebrities and thousands of onlookers, the TASR news agency wrote.
The life-size bronze statue stands on the same spot where the former pope, who was held in high regard by both the faithful and non-believers in Slovakia, celebrated a mass attended by tens of thousands of people during his third and final visit on September 14, 2003.
After the unveiling ceremony, a celebratory service took place inside the church, attended by Slovak bishops and priests.


Bratislava
Officials lay wreaths at Slavín

SLOVAK Foreign Affairs Minister Eduard Kukan and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, laid wreaths at Bratislava's Slavín monument on April 4 to commemorate the 61st anniversary of what proved to be one of the last major battles of WWII in Europe.
About 6,800 mostly Russian soldiers who helped liberate Slovakia lie in rest at the monument, the highest elevation in Bratislava.
Living members of the Slovak resistance movement attended the ceremony as well. After laying the wreaths, the Slovak Army Orchestra played the Russian and Slovak national anthems.
Slavín was unveiled in 1960 and has been completely reconstructed over the past seven years at a cost of more than Sk40 million.


Košice
Rákóczi gets a statute from Hungary

A BRONZE statue of František (Ferenc) II Rákóczi, who led anti-Habsburg uprisings in the 18th century, was unveiled in front of his memorial birth home in Košice on April 3.
The larger-than-life-size statue was designed by Hungarian sculptor Sándor Györfi and was a gift from Hungary to commemorate the 330th anniversary of Rákóczi's birth and the 100th anniversary of the transfer of his mortal remains from Turkey for re-burial in the St Elisabeth Cathedral in Košice, the TASR news agency reported.
Košice Mayor František Knapík was presented with the sculpture certificate by Lajos Vass, State Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry for National Culture Heritage Protection.

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