Daffodil Day annual fundraiser marks 10th year
YELLOW daffodils adorned pedestrians throughout Slovakia on April 7 as the country observed the 10th annual Daffodil Day, entitled Thanks for Staying Together for 10 Years, a popular fundraiser for the fight against cancer.
As usual, volunteers on street corners rewarded any voluntary contribution from passers-by with fresh and artificial flowers that can be pinned to clothing or bags to show support.
The funds collected will be used to help cancer patients and go towards a cancer prevention campaign.
Silvia Gašparovičová, Slova-kia's First Lady, Helena Hrušovská, whose husband heads the KDH party, and Gabriela Bugár, the wife of the acting Speaker of Parliament, made an appearance in the Old Town to boost the fund-raising drive.
"I like to support activities like this one because it raises awareness about the disease. It isn't good for sick people to cope by themselves," said Gašparovičová.
About 13,000 volunteers took part in the fundraiser under the auspices of 478 co-organizers, including primary and high schools, the Slovak Red Cross, local organizations, culture centers, senior citizens' clubs, and the Boy Scouts, among many others.
Last year's efforts raised over Sk15 million (€400,000). The results of this year's collection are not known yet, but initial tallies show Sk4.6 million (€122,700) was collected in Bratislava alone.
The bill for slow courts
TWENTY-NINE cases were brought against Slovakia before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2005, according to an annual ECHR report the Slovak cabinet received on April 5.
Twenty-eight of the cases concerned excessively lengthy court trials, a violation of the Agreement on Protection of Human Rights, while one involved the protection of property, the TASR news agency wrote.
In total, Slovakia had to pay more than Sk4.5 million (€120,000) to the plaintiffs, Sk2.4 million of which covered 11 out-of-court settlements.
The ECHR decided in Slovakia's favour in six of the cases.
Spare ammunition going to Iraq
SLOVAKIA will donate 5,000 items of spare tank munitions worth Sk67 million (€1.8 million) to Iraq as part of a proposed agreement between the Slovak and Iraqi governments approved in Bratislava on April 5.
The materiel's transportation costs will be fully covered from the NATO budget.
According to the agreement, which was drafted in cooperation with the allied forces headquarters in Europe, the Slovak government will provide information on the munitions' condition, but can send them "as is", with no guarantee on their functionality, quality or performance. Slovakia has also been granted the right to waive responsibility for any damage the munitions might cause, the TASR news agency reported.
Slovakia hopes the donation will help build the Iraqi security forces always envisaged by the international community, officials said.
The Iraqi government has committed to ensuring that the materiel will not used in a way that would run counter to UN resolutions, humanitarian law or human rights. It also cannot be sold or otherwise disposed of without Slovakia's consent.
Slovakia has already donated military materiel to the Afghan Army, which received 22,000 tonnes of machine guns, amour-piercing weapons, howitzers and pistols worth Sk455 million.
Minister unveils memorial to Slovak soldiers
ON APRIL 11, Slovak Defence Minister Martin Fedor unveiled a memorial to the victims of the January 19 plane crash in which 42 soldiers, many of whom were members of the Slovak peacekeeping mission to Kosovo, died.
The memorial is at a military base in Sajkovac, where the servicemen and women had been based.
"They died while on their way home after fulfilling their demanding tasks aimed at securing peace and stability in the province. They left behind work that had been well done for the benefit of local inhabitants, and Slovakia mourns the death of its sons and daughters. Slovakia will never forget them," Fedor said.
Slovak soldiers have been operating in Kosovo since 1999. They first belonged to the Austrian battalion, but since February 2002, some 100 Slovak soldiers have been part of a Czecho-Slovak battalion. Curre-ntly, more than 100 Slovak soldiers operate in KFOR peacekeeping operation. Their main task is to monitor the Sajkovac area and protect the Serbian minority.
Dirty money from Germany laundered in Slovakia
THE TRAIL of a money-laundering scandal involving the largest German cash-handling security firm Heros has led straight to Slovakia.
According to Hanover Chief Prosecutor Manfred Knothe, almost Sk13 billion (€347 million) that went missing from Heros' armoured vans was laundered through the Bratislava-based company FYA-Solution, the Hospodárske noviny reported.
FYA-Solution allegedly passed excessive invoices from an unnamed German company for spare parts for armoured vanson to Heros, which paid the Slovak firm using the dirty money.
The scheme wasn't discovered until February, by which time thousands of clients had been defrauded, especially Rewe, which suffered the heaviest damages, totaling €160 million.
Knothe admits that German investigators aren't exactly sure how the money was transferred to Slovakia, but are certain that it ended up in the pockets of the FYA-Solution partners.
According to business documents, two of Heros' managers were also partners in FYA-Solution, while the Bratislava company's third partner was the wife of Heros founder Karl-Heinz Weis.
According to the daily, German authorities have already requested the co-operation of law-enforcement agencies in Slovakia and other countries in which Heros was involved.
The culprits are not set to enjoy their ill-gotten gains for long. Some are already facing the maximum 15-year prison sentence.
The tomb of Rabbi Chatam Sofer is a top candidate for the UNESCO list.
photo: SME - Pavol Majer
Chatam Sofer and Rusovce up for UNESCO Heritage List
THE TOMB of Rabbi Chatam Sofer, situated on the bank of the Danube, and the remains of the Roman fort in Rusovce, also known as Gerulata, have been named as two areas of Bratislava that may be put on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List, the SME daily wrote.
"According to experts, the Chatam Sofer tomb is one of the four major Jewish sites of its kind in the world," said Viera Dvořáková from the Bratislava sites authority. The tomb includes the remnants of the graves of major Bratislava rabbis.
Gerulata fort falls into the so-called Limes romanus (a border defence system of the Ancient Rome) project, which aims to track down European Roman sites.
A part of the Roman fortifications from England and Germany have already been included on the cultural heritage list.
"In Slovakia, we identified [the villages of] Iža and Gerulata, which had a major influence on the development of the architecture within a certain cultural area and bear witness to a unique civilization that has gone extinct," Dvořáková said.
Iža, which is close to Komárno, houses the remains of the old Roman military camp Kelemantia, also known as Dievčí Hrad [the Girls' Fortress].
New sports facility in Modra
WORTHINGTON Group SK from Vyšná Šebastová announced plans to lease almost 1.3 million square metres of land in Modra to build a golf course.
"These are two neighbouring plots in the Hliny area that the town
FAITHFUL of Nitra commemorated Jesus Christ's stations of the cross and his suffering at Golgotha on April 14 by the pilgrimage to an important site of Christians - Calvary over Nitra.The event was prepared in the old Christian town of Nitra by the bishop's office in co-operation with parishes and religious communities started with prayers and pleas towards God for life, love, meekness, devotion and faith in Jesus. The priests offered their blessing to the participants of the calvary and called on them to persist in their faith in the God's son. The procession stopped at prison, in front of local hospital, near crosses and historical sites where the faithful asked Jesus to forgive sinners.
Worthington Group SK pledged that it would construct a public sports facility and an indoor ice rink as well.
Worthington Group SK was established on January 18, 2006. Its partners are US companies Worthington Europe and United Energy Group, as well as private individual Ľuboš Matisko, the SITA news agency wrote.
A highway to Kia
THE PLAN to build a highway nearly all the way to the new Kia Motors car plant near Žilina will be delayed, the Hospodárske noviny reported.
The government had promised to finish the project by the end of November, but the National Highway Company (NDS) recently admitted construction of the stretch through the town of Považská Bystrica in the western Trenčín region hasn't even begun yet.
"We will begin construction in Považská Bystrica in the final quarter of this year. The project will be completed in three years," said NDS spokesman Marcel Jánošík.
In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, the government never pledged to build a highway for Kia as part of its deal with the company.
Fifth Roma Holocaust Memorial unveiled
A FIFTH memorial to the Roma victims of the Holocaust was unveiled at the Jewish cemetery in Zvolen, central Slovakia, on April 8.
The memorial stands on a mass grave containing dozens of victims, including Roma from Dúbravy, Detva and Podkriváň, who were kept at Zvolen Castle until late November 1944 before being marched out to a cemetery, where they were forced to dig their own graves and executed, the SITA news agency wrote.
Shaped as an obelisk, the memorial bears the inscription Ma bisteren!, which means Do not Forget in the Roma language. Robert Rigo, a Roma blacksmith from Dunajská Lužná, created it together with sculptors Jaroslava Šicková and Ján Šicko.
The first memorial for Roma victims of the Holocaust was unveiled in Banská Bystrica in August 2005. Others were later erected in the villages of Nemecká, Lutila and Hanušovce nad Topľou. Three more are being planned for the towns of Komárno, Slatina and Dubnica nad Váhom.
The Zvolen unveiling was meant to coincide with International Roma Day, which has been celebrated since 1971. This year, Roma from around the world met in Orpington, near London, to launch the opening congress of the International Romani Union, the first international organization of Roma.
Minister's car accident still unsolved
THE INVESTIGATION into a car accident involving Interior Minister Martin Pado that led to a young woman being seriously injured is still dragging on, the Pravda daily reported.
According to police, it remains impossible to ascertain the exact cause and responsibility for the accident, which took place on October 3 of last year.
"Based on the investigator's request, expert opinion is being provided by the department of transport and traffic accidents," said Banská Bystrica police spokesperson Mária Faltániová, who was unable to say when the results of the investigation could be expected.
The accident happened in the town of Rimavská Sobota in central Slovakia when Pado, who was serving as Deputy Interior Minister at the time, broke internal ministry rules by giving a lift to a subordinate and her 22-year-old daughter in a ministry-owned Volkswagen. The daughter, who was the most seriously injured, should not have been in the car.
Pado is currently in ninth place on the ruling SDKÚ candidate list for the upcoming general elections and, according to the latest public opinion polls, stands a good chance of being elected as an MP.
If found responsible for the crash, parliament would have to give its approval for Pado's prosecution.
The damage from the accident was estimated at Sk330,000 (€8,800). Neither Pado nor the other driver had been drinking alcohol, and both claim it wasn't their fault.