Around Slovakia

Victims of fascism remembered

CEREMONIES commemorating the citizens of the Banská Bystrica region villages of Kľak and Ostrý Grúň, who were murdered by German and Slovak fascists near the end of World War II, were held on January 21, the 62nd anniversary of the burning of these villages.
Known as the Bloody Sunday of January 21, 1945, it was one of the period's most extreme examples of fascist aggression in Slovakia. The operations undertaken by an SS unit, a Heimatschutz unit, and the counter-partisan Edelweiss unit in Kľak and Ostrý Grúň were intended to frighten Slovak citizens and to discourage them from supporting partisan groups. In Ostrý Grúň they shot 64 men, women and children, while in Kľak they slaughtered 84 people, including 38 children. The youngest victim from Kľak was only three months old and the youngest victim from Ostrý Grúň was 14 months old. The fascists then, presumably as a reprisal for the area's support of Slovak partisan fighters, burned down the villages.
Wreaths of gratitude were laid at the villages' memorials to the victims by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, who was present along with representatives of Presidential Office, the Slovak Union of Anti-fascist Fighters, veterans of the Romanian Army that freed the villages, representatives of state administration, municipalities, and other related organisations and institutions.
Slovakia's political development after 1945 was influenced significantly by both these events and also by the Slovak National Uprising (SNP) of August 29, 1945.
"Regardless of which side of the political spectrum one prefers and regardless of what ideology they follow, people simply have to recognise that the SNP had a huge influence on the country's future development. And [without it] the western powers that won WWII, along with USSR, probably would not have recognised Czechoslovakia and its role during the formation of Europe. The SNP is the most important landmark in modern Slovak history," said Fico.

Four asylum seekers receive citizenship in 2006

OVER THE LAST year, the Slovak Interior Ministry granted Slovak citizenship to a mere four asylum seekers, who came from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Iran.
The Interior Ministry has granted citizenship to a total of 181 asylum seekers over the last 15 years. In 2000, Slovak citizenship was not granted to any asylum seekers. In 2001 eleven asylum seekers were granted citizenship, in 2002 the number rose to 59, in 2003 it dipped to 42, in 2004 it continued to fall to 21, and in 2005 the total number of citizenships granted dropped to only two, the SITA news agency reported.
Statistics show that most of the asylum seekers who were granted citizenship were from Afghanistan (67), followed by Armenia (27), Bosnia and Herzegovina (15), and the former Yugoslavia (14). The ministry only granted Slovak citizenship to one applicant each from Algeria, Egypt, Cambodia, Congo, Madagascar, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria.

M.R. Štefánik travel photos on display

AN EXHIBITION of General Milan Rastislav Štefánik's (1880-1919) photos, having enjoyed critical acclaim during its premiere at Bratislava Castle last year, has now opened at the Novohrad Museum and Gallery in Lučenec in south-central Slovakia.
The museum is hosting the exhibition in co-operation with the French Institute in Bratislava. It documents Štefánik's world travels through 40 photos that he took almost 100 years ago.
The photos mainly show Parisian and Roman houses, as well as portraits of common people in ordinary and festive moments.
Among the exhibited photos is also his famous picture of a Tahitian girl, which experts consider to be the first example of Slovak nude photographic art. The exhibition will run till February 25.
Štefánik was a Slovak politician, diplomat, pilot, and astronomer. In 1912 he received French citizenship. During WWI he was a General in the French Army and at the same time was also the Czechoslovak Minister of War in exile. He contributed decisively to the cause of Czechoslovak sovereignty.

Polish helicopter to assist Slovak search and rescue

SLOVAKIA's Mountain Rescue Service (HZS) signed an agreement with its Polish counterpart that authorises the use of a Polish helicopter to provide assistance during rescue operations in the Slovak mountains.
HZS head Jozef Janiga said that the arrangement will widen co-operation between Slovak and Polish rescuers, and will provide more options when trying to rescue people near the two countries' shared border.
The two organisations conduct a number of joint rescue operations every year. "Despite differing regulations, we encounter the same problems, and thanks to many years of co-operation we are looking for joint professional solutions that are available and acceptable for visitors to the High and Western Tatras on both sides of the border," said Janiga.

Kia production over 10,000

BY JANUARY 22, Korean carmaker Kia had already produced more than 10,000 cee'd models at its first European production plant in Teplička nad Váhom near Žilina since it began operations last December.
The plant exported more than 7,000 cee'd cars to the European market, almost 100 of which were sold in Slovakia, said Kia Motors Slovakia spokesman Dušan Dvořák.
Kia plans to produce a total of 150,000 cars in Žilina this year. It plans to continue producing the cee'd model, a special model designed by Kia for the European market. After the introduction of a hatchback version, an SW version will start production in September. In December, a 3-door version will also be launched. Kia also plans to start producing its SUV Sportage model in June.
Kia currently employs over 1,700 people at its Teplička plant. It is now recruiting people for the second shift that will be implemented in March. Kia Motors Slovakia plans to produce 225,000 cars in 2008, and in 2009 it should reach its full capacity of 300,00 cars a year. By that time the company will have a three-shift system in place. The production plant near Žilina, representing an investment of EUR 1 billion, will directly employ 3,000 people. Together with its suppliers who have invested in Slovakia, Kia will have created 10,000 jobs.

Young wines blessed

A demonstration against a gathering of extreme-right supporters on SNP Square in Bratislava on February 1 attracted less than 30 'anti-fascists', including the man in the picture, but they still outnumbered the less than dozen extremists who showed up. Bratislava Old Town Mayor Andrej Petrek then turned up to cancel both demonstrations.
photo: Jana Liptáková

BISHOP of the Bratislava-Trnava archdiocese Ján Orosch blessed nearly 100 samples of young wines prepared by local winemakers in Trnava on January 26.
Wine growers, wine lovers, and members of wine lovers associations from all around the country gathered in wine cellars in the town's historical centre, all invited by the western Slovak town of Trnava.
Now in its sixth year, this event showcases the best red and white wines produced by 42 winemakers from towns and villages with a long winegrowing tradition, the TASR news agency wrote.
The blessing of the 2006 wine was exceptional, participants at the event say. According to Igor Čapičík, head of the Association of Winegrowers in the village of Zeleneč, Trnava region, "those who waited patiently ended up with wines with a high sugar content," due to last year's long indian summer. He added that a wine as good as the 2006 vintage can only be seen once every 50 years.

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