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Slovakia
Charter 77's ideals not dead

THE IDEALS of the Charter 77 are not dead, reads a statement entitled The Foundation of Charter 77.
Charter 77 was a well-known opposition petition during the so-called 'normalisation period' in communist Czechoslovakia that followed in the wake of the 1968 Prague Spring. It was named after its first document dated January 1, 1977.
To support Charter 77, the Foundation of Charter 77 was founded in Stockholm in 1978. Aimed at offering moral and financial support to Czechoslovak dissidents and their families, it was also backed by internationally recognised politicians and intellectuals.
Following the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Slovak Charter 77 Foundation and the Czech Charter 77 Foundation were established through agreement.
According to the Slovak foundation's director, Zuzana Szatmáry, it would suit many people to consign the charter's ideals to history, as a response to the totalitarian period.
Yet according to the statement, there is always some opportunity to push for adherence to legislation in which the weak and marginalised or helpless are defended; and at the same time there is never an absence of efforts to abuse power or to breach human rights, says the statement.
For 16 years now, the Foundation of Charter 77 Bratislava has been working - supported in spirit by former Czechoslovak and Czech president (and former dissident and Charter 77 signatory) Václav Havel - and has been keeping alive Charter 77's message through professional advocacy in the field of human rights and observing the maintenance of international and legal obligations in Slovakia.
The foundation's director Zuzana Szatmáry was made the 'European Woman of the Year' by the EU in 1993.


Bratislava
First cervical cancer vaccination in Slovakia

SEVENTEEN-year-old Iveta M. became the first woman to be vaccinated against cervical cancer in Slovakia on January 9, the Nový Čas daily reported.
According to gynaecologist Július Štefanovič, the vaccine will play a vital role in the fight against this malicious disease. "I'm convinced that when most young women have the vaccination, the frequency [of cervical cancer cases] will be significantly lower," he said.
As many as 600 women in Slovakia fall prey to this type of cancer every year, which proves fatal in around 200 cases.
Around 95 percent of all cases of cervical cancer are linked to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - a common viral infection that is usually passed on during sexual intercourse.
There are many different types of HPV. Some can cause genital warts while others may cause changes in cells, a condition that is referred to as cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) and which can develop into cancer if not treated in time.
In general, women 25 years old or younger have the highest risk of developing this form of cancer. The vaccine is considered to be most effective when given in the pre-pubescent years.


Bratislava
No new terminal at airport

ALTHOUGH the Bratislava airport needs a new terminal, construction on one will not begin in 2007. Following last year's cancellation of the airport's privatisation it was found that not enough money is available. Despite offers from banks to provide loans of more than Sk2 billion (€58 million), there are no plans to build a new terminal at the moment, the Hospodárske noviny daily reported on January 10.
Instead of a new terminal, in which the winner of the cancelled privatisation tender - the TwoOne consortium - planned to invest Sk2.85 billion, there are plans to increase the capacity of the old terminal from 2 million to 3 million passengers per year.
At the same time, the airport must be extended by September if it is to conform to the conditions set out for Slovakia to be able to join the Schengen zone at the end of this year.
Bratislava airport handled 1.95 million passengers in 2006, up from 1.33 million in 2005. It is expected that 2.35 million passengers will use the airport in 2007.
The Slovak anti-monopoly office ruled last year that the TwoOne consortium - which includes the Vienna Schwechat airport - should not be allowed to acquire a 66-percent stake in Bratislava airport because this would damage the principle of competition.


Ružomberok, Banská Bystrica
Tatras offer best snow conditions in country

SKI centres in Slovakia are covered with muggy artificial snow, Ľubica Styková from the Sitour ski information agency informed the media, adding that most ski centres in the country are offering good or limited snow conditions for skiers.
The best snow conditions are now in the High Western and Belianske Tatras (eastern part of the High Tatras) ski centres. The Štrbské Pleso ski centre offers skiers 60 centimetres of snow on its two ski slopes (Interski and Esíčko).
The Low Tatras have very good snow conditions at Čertovica-Sedlo (30cm) and at Tále (30cm), while good skiing conditions are reported at Chopok-Jasná north (25cm), Donovaly-Záhradište, Polomka-Bučník, Skicentre Telgárt, and Šachtičky (all 20cm).
Limited skiing is on offer at Chopok-Záhradky north, Snowpark Lučivná, Čahovo-Selce and Pobreziny.
The Malá and Veľká Fatra mountains have good skiing conditions at Skalka near Kremnica (35cm) and Jasenská (20cm), while limited snow conditions are reported at Snowland Valčianska, Vrátna-Paseky, Martinské Hole, and at Skipark Ružomberok.
In eastern Slovakia, very good conditions are reported at Relax Centre Plejsy (40cm) and Litmanová (25cm). Good conditions are reported at Skipark Chlmec and Mlynky-Biele Vody (both 30cm), Rittenberg-Spišská Nová Ves and Ski Centrum Levoča (both 25cm), Vernár-Studničky, Ski Jazersko-Bachledová, Drienica and Regetovka (all 20cm).
In northern and central Slovakia good conditions can be found at Čičmany (25cm)and Snowparadise Veľká Rača (20cm). Limited skiing is reported at Orava SnowCentre - Oravská Lesná (15cm) and Brezovica (20cm).


Hurbanovo
Record temperatures

A RECORD high temperature of over 15 degrees Celsius was measured by the Hurbanovo meteorology station in western Slovakia's Nitra region on Sunday January 7.
According to meteorologist Jozef Čevelka, the digital and mercury thermometers both showed 15.2 degrees Celsius - the warmest temperature recorded on this day during the 106-year history of the meteorology station.
Čevelka added that Hurbanovo reported the highest temperature in all of Slovakia on Sunday. Other towns and cities in the Nitra region reported temperatures around 12 degrees at noon including Komárno, Nové Zámky, Kolárovo, Štúrovo, Nitra, Levice, and Vráble.


Košice
Košice's mayor best paid in country

THE MAYOR of the eastern Slovak city of Košice, František Knapík, who was re-elected in the local elections on December 2, receives a higher salary than any of his Slovak counterparts - Sk116,000 (€3,400) per month, the Hospodárske noviny daily wrote.
Knapík's monthly salary is nearly Sk2,000 higher than that of the re-elected mayor of Bratislava, Andrej Ďurkovský.
"The mayor's salary was approved by the city council," his spokeswoman Jana Grecová said.
Most newly elected mayors have not been given salaries higher than their predecessors. The only exception is Nitra's Mayor Jozef Dvonč, who earns Sk104,000 per month, which is Sk7,000 more than his predecessor Ferdinand Vitek.
In one case, there has actually been a salary cut. The new mayor of Žilina, Ivan Harman, earns Sk90,000 per month, which is Sk20,000 less than his predecessor, chairman of the Slovak National Party's, Ján Slota.
"It was my idea. I want to lower expenditures, so I've started with myself," said Harman.

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