Around Slovakia

Daffodil Day collects record-high donations

THE LEAGUE Against Cancer (LPR) collected a record Sk18.4 million (€394,000) in donations during this year's Daffodil Day, which actually covered a period longer than the official collection day of April 7.
As much as Sk17 million was collected by the League's 13,000 volunteers, who offered fresh and artificial flowers in exchange for a voluntary contribution, while the remaining Sk1.4 million was collected via other methods.
The amount was Sk3 million more than last year, LPR executive director Eva Kováčová told the press.
The LPR will use the money to support cancer patients and their families, increase awareness, and boost education, consultation and clinical and research projects aimed at preventing cancer, the SITA news agency wrote.
The highest collection yield was in Bratislava, where volunteers collected Sk4.7 million, up Sk640,000 year-on-year.
"People trust us. They know that LPR is a transparent organization and where the money we collect goes," said LPR president Eva Siracká.
"The Slovak public thinks the fight against cancer isn't possible with only state resources. Institutes and organizations like LPR are, therefore, a welcome partner because they help to increase the sphere's financial resources," she added.

A corny experiment

THE SLOVAK Environment Inspectorate has given the go-ahead for genetically-modified maize (GMO) to be grown in Slovakia for the first time, the Hospodárske noviny reported.
Multinational biotechnological company Monsanto will carry out an experiment by planting MON 810 maize - in compliance with Slovak Environment Inspectorate requirements - on 20 hectares of land.
The tests are meant, among other things, to reveal whether genetically-modified plants yield more per hectare than standard maize and introduce farmers to new cultivation methods.
The inspectorate's decision came at the same time as its rejection of a request from the Slovak branch of Greenpeace that sought to ban the growing of the maize in this country. Unofficial reports say that the crop has already been grown in Slovakia since 2002.

People from poorer regions apathetic

SOCIOLOGISTS from the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) warn in a new study that the chasm between the country's different regions is quickly growing wider, leaving inhabitants in poor villages frustrated to the point that they no longer care whether authorities address local problems, the SME daily wrote.
Although most of Slovakia is developing steadily, certain villages remain on the decline, with some showing no potential for development at all, the sociologists found.
The inhabitants will probably never leave in search of work because selling their houses wouldn't get them enough to pay for accommodation elsewhere.
"They have no resources that would enable them to travel for work. They can't afford to leave. They can't move," said sociologist Peter Gajdoš. "This creates problems, resignation, alcoholism, and so on."
Some villages apply for financial help from eurofunds, but only a quarter are successful, as the departure of the young and educated has left behind mainly the old and uncommitted. Infrastructure is another problem. Many of these villages run just two bus lines per day into nearby towns.
The sociologists say the study indicates that regional differences are a significant feature of Slovakia that cannot be solved by hasty and trivial assessments by politicians.

Radioactive cloud from Chernobyl also hit Slovakia

THE RADIOACTIVE cloud that shot up from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986 hit Slovakia three times, according to the Pravda daily.
The cloud caused the worst damage in regions where it rained, but also contaminated some Slovak districts, experts claimed.
To make matters worse, communist authorities did not warn the public about the dangers of the radiation.
"The top authorities definitely knew about radiation fallout because the head of the Slovak Meteorological Institute immediately informed them about the results of radiation measures," Dušan Závodský, a meteorologist and former head of the institute, told Pravda.
"However, luck was with us on May 1, 1986, because it was sunny during the May Day parade," he joked.

Minister sues over health code violations

AGRICULTURE Minister Zsolt Simon vowed on April 26 to take legal action against unspecified persons at two hypermarkets in Bratislava after health inspectors detected recurring hygiene violations, such as spoiled meat, which could be hazardous to consumers.
The Terno Coop Jednota and Tesco Stores hypermarkets, Simon told reporters, cited human error as the reasons for the violations and stated disciplinary action is already underway.
But such punishment is too lenient for something that endangers life and health, the minister reacted.
Simon also added that he has repeatedly attempted to push through a three-strikes-you're-out system in parliament, under which any store with three health code violations would be closed down.
"Because parliament recently rejected the final attempt at having the agriculture ministry-drafted measure debated, I have decided to file a criminal complaint instead," he said.

New fence around US Embassy

US Ambassador to Slovakia Rodolphe Vallee told reporters on April 26 that the concrete barriers surrounding the US Embassy in downtown Bratislava will soon be replaced by a new fence that will not block the pedestrian thoroughfare and will more aesthetically complement its surroundings, the SITA news agency wrote.
The new transparent fence will serve as temporary protection.
Also announced were plans to relocate the steel container for security guards to behind the embassy and pave the parking lot outside with the same stone used in the rest of the Hviezdoslavo Square. The improvements will cost Sk60 million (€1.6 million).
The building's façcade will also be reconstructed with a new glass-walled reception facility for picking up visas. Vallee said it would now be possible to issue visas within one day.
The ambassador repeated several times that the fence would be temporary because the embassy is still looking for a suitable new site.
The search began in 2004 when US plans to build a three-metre-high fence on Hviezdoslavo Square sparked angry protests from Bratislava residents, who argued it would damage the architectural image of the historical square.
The US Embassy has the right to protect its surroundings based on an agreement it signed with former Bratislava mayor Jozef Moravčík in 2002, in which the embassy was given exclusive and unrestricted rights to control access to the security zone, including the right to stop traffic.

FEW people observed May Day (May 1) this year, though it used to be the most important holiday under Communism, celebrated with parades marching through the strees. The current Communist Party used the occasion to launch its official pre-election campaign, while others remembered the second anniversary of Slovakia entering the European Union. The woman in the picture is celebrating with the Confederation of Labour Unions and the left-wing Smer party in Banská Bystrica.
photo: SME - Ján Krošlák

Slovakia joins river info system

SLOVAKIA will join the IRIS Europe pilot project, within which it will implement the European directive on river information systems (RIS).
RIS are harmonized information services that support shipping and traffic control within inland navigation. In addition to Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium and France have joined the project. These countries will supply RIS users with relevant data on navigation and plotting courses on inland waterways, enable reporting from ships and secure standardized encoded ship reports for skippers.
The directive's goal is to support water transport, increase its competitiveness, safety, efficiency and combine it with other modes of transport. The Slovak cabinet approved the proposal's implementation at its regular session on April 26.
Total costs of the project are €4.1 million (Sk154 million).
The project is co-financed from the European Union TEN-T program up to 50 percent of costs for solution and trial projects.
Slovakia's costs have been calculated at €1.2 million (€45 million), with half covered from the national budget, SITA wrote.

Agrokomplex to extend exhibition space

THE AGROKOMPLEX exhibition centre in Nitra is going to connect a new exhibition hall to its already-existing S1 and S2 halls.
Exhibitors plan to use it to display complete engineering networks.
The new hall will cost Sk20.4 million (€547,000) and span an area of 1,102 square metres, expanding the exhibition centre's total size to 45,373 square metres.
According to Agrokomplex Fair spokesman Marek Baluška, the exhibition hall should be ready for the upcoming International Engineering Fair scheduled for May 23 to 26.

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