Around Slovakia

US donates inspection vehicle to customs authority

US Ambassador to Slovakia Rodolphe M. Vallee presented Slovakia's Customs Administration officials with a new inspection vehicle equipped with an X-ray system on September 21.
The inspection vehicle, worth around Sk6.8 million (€180,000), was presented by the American embassy as part of the Export Control and Related Border Security Assistance (EXBS) programme, which involves co-operation over several years with Slooms Administration by providing equipment, training and other types of assistance.
EXBS is being sponsored by the US Department of Defense with the aim of helping Central and Eastern European countries to control exports and halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
"Even the borders of democratic countries are especially vulnerable to many dangers, and in this time of global terrorism, one of these is illegal trafficking in conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The governments of Slovakia and other Central European countries, in co-operation with the USA, are focusing on strengthening the security of their own borders," said Vallee.
Along with its X-ray system, the vehicle also has a radiation detector. The vehicle can also be used for other types of customs checks such as mobile customs supervision, checks for goods in shipments or luggage on which duty should be paid, and inspections of the removable parts of vehicles and their accessories.

Slovak Armed Forces Day celebrated

DEFENSE Minister František Kašický laid a wreath on the Memorial of Reconciliation at the Defence Ministry to mark Slovak Armed Forces Day on September 22.
Along with Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška, the minister also placed an urn at the memorial containing soil collected from Borsó Hill - the site near the village of Hejce in Hungary where 42 members of the Slovak armed forces were killed in an air crash in January 2006. The soldiers on board the aircraft were returning from a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo.
September 22 is a particularly important date for Slovakia. It was on this day in 1848 that a Slovak volunteer force, fighting for separation from Hungary within the Habsburg Empire, achieved its first military success near the town of Brezová pod Bradlom in western Slovakia.
The idea to commemorate this revolutionary period was proposed nine years ago, and former president Rudolf Schuster declared September 22 Slovak Armed Forces Day.
"The events of September 22, 1848 and the uprising of 1848 and 1849 are written forever in the history of the Slovak nation and in the history of the struggle of Slovaks for their national, social and spiritual development", said Kašický.
Speaking to some 200 members of the Slovak armed forces, Kašický listed the first steps taken by the Defense Ministry's new leadership. He praised the approval of a new directive on public tenders, the drawing up of agreements between the ministry and other parties, and the public discussion on a proposed amendment to the act on state service for professional soldiers.

Plane crashes during air show

FIVE fire vehicles and 22 fire-fighters were called in from Bratislava following the crash of a biplane that took place on September 30 during an air show at Bratislava's Vajnory airfield.
During the show, entitled A Flying Circus, from the Czech town of Králové Hradec, two acrobatic light planes collided in mid-air. One of the pilots safely preformed an emergency landing but the other, a 37-year-old man, crashed and suffered serious injuries.
The pilot was taken to a hospital with fractured arms and legs.
Luckily, none of the spectators were injured. The show was closed down early due to the accident. According to SITA, the case is now being investigated by the police as well as by the air inspection authority.

Zemianske Kostoľany
Chemical weapons inspectors start course

A TRAINING course for 18 international weapon inspectors belonging to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons began on September 25 in Zemianske Kostoľany in western Slovakia's Trenčín region.
The course, which is taking place at the Defense Ministry's training centre for radiation, chemical and biological protection, will continue until October 5.
The main aim of the course is to deepen knowledge, provide practical skills and experience, and demonstrate procedures for carrying out inspections in the field of chemical-weapons disarmament, TASR wrote.
The training in Zemianske Kostoľany is designed to reproduce actual field conditions, and will include the use of live rounds. The inspectors taking part in the course have so far only had training in laboratories. The course is being sponsored by the Slovak Economy Ministry, being the national body concerned with a ban on chemical weapons. The Economy Ministry had the co-operation of the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry in organising the course.
The Organization for The Prohibition of Chemical Weapons carries out inspections to ensure that bans on chemical and biological weapons are being observed. Such inspections are conducted in high-risk countries and areas.

Secondary school pupils leaving for Hungary

THE NUMBER of pupils at several secondary schools in south-central Slovakia is falling, because more and more children from the area are going to Hungary for their schooling. If the trend continues, some Slovak schools will have to close, according to the Pravda daily.
"We've recently seen a fall in the number of pupils in our town. This isn't just because there are fewer children in general. An increasing amount of secondary school students prefer to study in nearby Hungary. In the past it was only university students who did this," said Jozef Agócs, Fiľakovo's mayor. He estimates that in this school year alone, from 10 to 15 children from the town have moved to schools in Salgotarján, Szeged and other Hungarian towns near the border.
"Just like here, schools there receive money from the state according to the number of pupils they have. That's probably why they're trying to take them from us," said Agócs.
László Molnár, a teacher at the Hungarian language grammar school in Fiľakovo thinks that pupils are going to Hungary due to the low charges for school dormitories, or because of transport cost subsidies. "Last year we had one Slovak-language first-year class and two Hungarian. This year there's only one of each," he said.
Agócs added that some pupils probably think that by attending secondary schools in Hungary they will have a better chance of getting into a Hungarian university.

"Luxury" for special judges

THE JUSTICE Ministry intends to ask the Finance Ministry and the Supreme Audit Office to carry out an inspection regarding the expenses involved in furnishing 14 houses for judges and prosecutors working at the Special Court and Special Prosecutor's Office in Pezinok.
The Justice Ministry claims that the money allocated for furnishing expenses - Sk8.2 million (€219,300) - is excessive.
"The main problem is the significant disparity between the prices on the invoices and the quality of the delivered goods," said Justice Ministry spokesman Michal Jurči. Photos taken by the local media of furnishings such as seating sets and bathroom accessories also appear to confirm the Ministry's claims of overpricing.
The results of the inspections will decide whether the Justice Ministry will file a complaint or take alternative action, said Jurči.

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