Goverment opens doors on May Day
IN ORDER to mark the second anniversary of Slovakia's entry into the European Union on May 1, the Government held an open day entitled "European Sunday" at its headquarters on April 30.
More than 3,000 people came to see the government's conference and other rooms, which are otherwise accessible only to visiting statesmen or cabinet members.
Visitors also met with the government ministers, who appeared at the event, and asked for their autographs. They discussed various issues with them as well.
"The questions ranged from family policy, through social benefits and unemployment safeguards, to pensions, entitlements, injuries in the workplace and domestic violence," said Labour Minister Iveta Radičová.
Information material dedi-cated to the European Union was also available. Slovakia joined the EU on May 1, 2004.
Info centre for migrants
FOREIGNERS who live or plan to live in Slovakia can make use of the services provided by the newly set-up Migration Information Centre in Bratislava.
The centre focuses on providing information because polls suggest that this is what migrants in Slovakia need the most, SITA wrote.
"Information for migrants is currently scattered throughout many offices and institutions that are often difficult to find for Slovak citizens, let alone foreigners," said Zuzana Vatráľová, the head of the International Organization for Migration in Slovakia.
"The centre provides advisory services for the main areas of concern in the lives of foreigners, such as visas, work, housing, education, health care and so on," she said.
The target group is foreigners who are legally in Slovakia. These people will be able to obtain information from the centre via personal meetings, telephone or e-mail. The information centre is located in the Bratislava city centre.
Information in English, Slovak, and Russian can also be found at www.mic.iom.sk.
Executioner's house haunted
STRANGE things have been happening at the house of the former municipal executioner, which was opened to the public two years ago.
Guide Jitka Šišlíková told SITA news agency that heavy objects sometimes start moving by themselves, accompanied by peculiar thudding sounds.
In the Middle Ages there used to be a jail in the executioner's house as well, and many innocent people allegedly lost their lives here. They also imprisoned women who were accused of witchcraft.
The premises where horrific things allegedly took place are today remade into an exhibit entitled Law and Justice in Old Trenčín.
Šišlíková says that the weird phenomena started last summer. Around 15 tourists were inside one room and suddenly a beam that was used for torture practices, and which hangs on a rope, started swinging. It flew about one metre to the side and then suddenly stopped.
"The tourists were so terrified that they all left immediately," she said.
At that time Šišlíková was in the room with another colleague and both agreed that none of the tourists could have moved the beam because the whole group stood about three metres away from it.
The situation repeated twice more.
The thudding that has been echoing around the house is also strange.
"Suddenly there is a thud as if something has fallen to the floor. My colleague and I run around the house checking everything but never find anything lying on the floor," said Šišlíková.
The guide said that once a priest visited the house and recommended consecrating the premises.
Another visitor, a medium from Prague, immediately ran out of the house because she could not stand it inside.
The house was built in the 16th century. The city of Trenčín had its own executioner until 1790.
Ghosts are also talked about in connection with the Barbara Palace at Trenčín Castle. A legend has it that Queen Barbara Celská will appear to any young man of pure heart who calls her three times.
Raj opens tourist season
OFFICIALS of the Slovenský Raj (Slovak Paradise) national park in eastern Slovakia opened the new tourist season on April 30, with a free hike offered through the most frequented Suchá Belá valley.
"We have braced ourselves for an invasion by Polish tourists, who usually start the ball rolling. The admission fee has remained unchanged, with adults charged Sk40 and children half price," said Slovenský Raj director and mayor of the eastern Slovak village of Hrabušice, Štefan Labuda.
The local authorities use the admission fees to maintain tourist trails in the park. Hrabušice village last year collected Sk5.2 million (€139,000) in admission and parking fees.
"We have done a great deal of work since the beginning of the year. We have yet to begin the second half of the Life programme, which is to replace most of the wooden trail equipment in Suchá Belá. In the more remote areas of Slovenský Raj, such as the upper part of the Veľký Sokol (Great Falcon) ravine and Kyseľ we're going to replace metal equipment," said Labuda.
"In order to carry out these activities, we'll shut the valley off for 2-3 days and offer tourists other interesting walks instead," said Labuda.
According to him, at the peak of the tourist season, 2,300-2,800 people daily visit Suchá Belá.
Last year, Slovenský Raj as a whole was estimated to have seen 750,000-1 million tourists.
Veterans at Mont Blanc
FOUR ski veterans from the Zvolen Senior Ski Club skied down Mont Blanc in France.
Each of the four men skied down a part of the 20-kilometre-long slope and then handed over the symbolic relay baton to his colleague, the SME daily wrote.
They managed to ski down the slope in 33 minutes.
The sportsmen would like their unique sports performance be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
"The veterans' relay skied down the glacier in the Vallée Blanche (White Valley) in a great time. We have proven that Slovak pensioners can ski," said the youngest of the four, 56-year-old Vladimír Ivanko.
The relay also included Milan Hofbauer (65), Miroslav Šebeň (68), and František Dolník.
"We are older people and we find joy in active movement. We love skiing and we are successful in the Slovak downhill skiing cup series, Ski Masters, where all of us ranked with medals in the last season," said Ivanko.
The unique project was supported by the Zvolen Deputy Mayor Vladimír Šedo, and Slovakia's presidential and PM offices.
Slovaks and Czechs consider air cooperation
SLOVAKIA and Czech Republic are considering co-operation in the field of military aviation, Slovak Defense Minister Martin Fedor said after a meeting with his Czech counterpart Karel Kuhnl during the defense exposition IDEB 2006 in Bratislava on May 3.
"We concurred that the future is likely to bring the sharing of capacities by individual states, and we can already see the scope for co-operation in aviation between the two countries," said Fedor.
Hence, both ministers authorized their respective chiefs of military staffs to present revamped proposals for securing transport capacities by the end of 2006.
Fedor has indicated several alternatives. They could, for example, include the joint procurement and utilizing of transport capacities, or a mutual agreement, according to which one country will purchase planes and the other will be able to use them. "We can also agree to ask a third party to arrange transport capacities," Slovakia's defense minister said, adding that he thinks the question of aviation is currently a problem for NATO as a whole and one that is exclusive to Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
"I think we will have to take so far non-standard ways, the ways of joint purchases of transport planes, because two or three armies will utilize them much better and they have more possibilities to offer them for extra-military uses," Kuhnl said, adding that everything is still in the discussion phase.
Questions of military aviation became topical in Slovakia after the tragic crash early this year of Slovak military plane AN-24, which claimed the lives of 42 soldiers. Currently, the army arranges the transport of soldiers and material to foreign missions through agreements with commercial firms, TASR wrote.