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Slovakia
Slovak pensioners are poorest in the region

COMPARED TO their counterparts in neighbouring countries, Slovak pensioners are as poor as church mice, the Nový Čas daily wrote on April 25.
Hungarian pensioners receive the most in the Visegrad Four region (Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic) at Sk14,970 (€447) per month. In Poland, the figure is around Sk13,000 (€388), while in the Czech Republic it is Sk10,428 (€311). Slovak pensioners receive the least, Sk8,226 (€246) per month.
The most optimistic estimates say it will take Slovak pensioners until around 2015 to catch up, though it should also be noted that the cost of living in Slovakia is relatively low.
"Pensions will increase at the same rate as salaries, and these will grow as fast as the economy," said Pavel Karász from the Slovak Academy of Sciences.
He also noted that, due to regional differences in the cost of living, pensioners in Prešov can afford a great deal more than their counterparts in Bratislava.


Slovakia
Daffodil Day collects record-high donations

THE LEAGUE Against Cancer collected a record Sk20.7 million (€600,000) in donations during this year's Daffodil Day, held in Slovakia on April 13.
The League's executive director, Eva Kováčová, told the SITA news agency on May 3 that the league will distribute about Sk18.7 million among its own programmes and various projects it is funding.
League president Eva Siracká said the biggest portion of the donations will be used for cancer prevention and to help cancer patients.


Slovakia
Slovak mountaineers return from Himalayas without Hudák

A SLOVAK team of mountaineers has returned from an expedition to the Himalayas without one of its members.
Three Slovak climbers went to Tibet to climb the Cho Oyu (8,201 metres) and Shishapangma (8,046 metres) mountains, but only Jozef Kopold and Jaroslav Dutka returned home. Marek Hudák disappeared during his descent from Shishapangma and his body has not yet been found.
"The tragedy was probably caused by a slip," said Kopold, who spoke with Hudák for the last time 200 metres below the peak. Kopold is considered one of the most talented climbers in the world.
"We drank some tea and had a small discussion about whether to go ahead (with the ascent) or not because the usual afternoon fog had come down," Kopold told the Sme daily. "Marek looked well, he was only gasping for air, as everybody does at this altitude. I went, as always, as the first one, and about 50 metres below the top I saw that he was descending.
"I admire him for turning back. But I don't know why he returned."
Kopold reached the top of Shishapangma on April 24 at 16:30 local time and returned the same way he climbed up.
"I followed his highly visible tracks, which were about 15 centimetres deep, up to the old fixing ropes frozen up at an altitude of 7,600 metres," Kopold said. "I found Marek's ice axe there. Maybe he tried to tear the rope from the ice and skidded. The trough is like a toboggan. Without an ice axe in your hand you are not able to stop falling."


Bratislava
Gumball 3000 Rally ends in Bratislava

A Ferrari from Slovakia's first-ever team at the Gumball 3000 Rally.
photo: jana Liptáková

THE SLOVAK capital of Bratislava became the finish line for the Gumball 3000 car rally for the rich and famous after a serious accident occurred on May 2, the TASR news wire reported.
Bratislava was supposed to be the end of a single stage, from which participants would continue on their trip across Europe. But the race was called off following a fatal accident in Macedonia, in which a Porsche 911 driven by Nicholas Morley and Matthew McConville from Britain hit a local Volkswagen Golf.
The Golf's driver, 67-year-old Vladimir Cepulyoski, died from a heart attack after the crash and his wife was seriously injured. Morley and McConville were arrested and taken into custody.
Rally director Maximillion Cooper called off the rally following the incident.
"As a sign of respect we have decided that this year's Gumball 3000 Rally will not travel any further and will end in Bratislava this evening, May 3, 2007," Cooper said in an official statement.
"As the organisers of the rally we feel that it should be stopped as a mark of respect to Vladimir Cepulyoski, who died today after an accident involving one the participating drivers.
"We are very saddened by what has happened and feel that it would be wrong to continue. On behalf of Gumball 3000, we once again extend our deepest sympathies to his family and we are doing everything we can for them," he said.
Several of the racing crews and some of the donors officially announced after the accident that they did not intend to continue with the rally. A VIP party due to take place in Bratislava's UFO restaurant was also cancelled.
The rally began in London on April 28, and featured more than 110 cars and around 200 participants, including international celebrities such as supermodel Jodie Kidd, actor Hayden Christensen (who played Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars films), and rappers Xzibit and Ludacris.
Slovakia also had its first-ever team at the rally. Entrepreneur Juraj Mác, 38, and his partner Mark Kainrath, 28, drove a black Ferrari 612 Scaglietti.
A car driven by the owner of the Carlton hotel, Eric Assimakopoulos, had the Slovak national coat of arms painted on it.
The Gumball 3000 - which costs €28,000 to enter - involved more than 100 cars driving 3,000 miles from London to Athens and back on public roads.


Bratislava
Slovak Cabinet holds open house

Fico scored the first goal of this year's politicians vs. journalists football match.
photo: SITA

DESPITE the wet weather on May 5, hundreds of people paid a visit to the Government Office in Bratislava, which held an open house to mark the third anniversary of Slovakia's entry to the European Union (which took place on May 1, 2004).
Prime Minister Robert Fico personally guided some of the visitors and showed them his own office.
Visitors had the chance to see the ceremonial premises of the Slovak Cabinet in the former archbishop's summer palace, as well as its modern premises, including the hall where ministers meet at their regular cabinet sessions.
Fico complained about the poor condition of the historic building. Costs of the reconstruction are calculated at Sk800 million, the TASR news wire wrote.
The attractions also included an exhibition of military equipment in the building's courtyard and a display by the president's honour guard. Children could ride in a government limousine.
This is the third time the Slovak cabinet has opened its doors to the public. Fico promised they will do it again next year.
In a friendly football match played in the afternoon between members of the government and members of the press, the government team, led by Fico, beat the journalists' team 6-1.


Štrba
Štrbské Pleso belongs to Štrba again

The village of Štrbské Pleso is returning to the administration of Štrba.
photo: SITA

THE SUPREME Court ruled on May 3 that the village of Štrbské Pleso, one of the most popular tourist resorts in the High Tatras mountain range, will no longer fall under the administration of the town of Vysoké Tatry, but instead will be run by the village of Štrba.
At the same time, the court refused Vysoké Tatry the right to administer the village of Tatranská Štrba. In the mid-1970s, Tatranská Štrba was taken from the administration of Vysoké Tatry and granted to Štrba, the Sme daily wrote.
This decision means that Štrba will administer Štrbské Pleso, which covers an area of about 2,000 square metres.
The Supreme Court's decision concluded a dispute that has been dragging on since 1997.
"I think that the Supreme Court's verdict is unjust," said Vysoké Tatry's mayor, Ján Mokoš. "The [decision] is on Štrba's side but the law is on ours."
Štrba mayor Michal Sýkora said the court's verdict was one of the biggest moments in the village's history. He promised the municipal taxes Štrbské Pleso will be paying to Štrba will be reinvested into Štrbské Pleso.
Sýkora also promised to build a ski slope and a cable line from Štrbské Pleso to Štrba. He said this would reduce traffic at Štrbské Pleso.
Vysoké Tatry is a town made up of more than 10 formerly independent villages in the foothills of the High Tatras. These include Horný Smokovec, Dolný Smokovec, Tatranská Lesná and Tatranská Lomnica, with an administration centre in Starý Smokovec.


Rapovce
Slovakia has its sea

IT IS said that Slovakia has everything a tourist destination needs except for a sea. This is no longer true. Geologists have found that Slovakia already has a sea in Rapovce, close to Lučenec, in south-eastern Slovakia.
During an exploration, geologists discovered salt water, similar to sea water, at a depth of 1,500 metres and with a temperature of 47.5 degrees Celsius.
The village, together with Lučenec and the private company 1. Geotermálna Lučenec, built an exploratory well. Its task was to find out whether it would be possible to build a thermal aquapark there.
Hydro-geologist Ján Dzúrik told STV public television that the discovery is unique in Slovakia.
"The water yield of the well is as much as 20 litres per second," Dzúrik said.
"We expected five to 10 litres," the co-owner of 1. Geotermálna, Vladimír Červenák, told the SITA news wire. "This opens up for us the possibility of drawing EU funds for the greatest tourist project in the Banská Bystrica Region."
The planned Aquapark Novolandia would be 20 hectares in size with 10 pools in five spa complexes, sports venues, a wellness centre and other facilities.
The project is expected to cost about Sk1 billion, Červenák said. He believes that Aquapark Novolandia could be a driving force for the slow-developing tourism industry in the Novohrad region, and reduce the village's almost 50-percent unemployment rate.
One litre of the water, which might be a relic of a pre-historic sea, contains as much as 20 grams of salt.
"We had expected thermal, slightly mineral water here," said Rapovce Mayor Ivan Eibner. "Such a high content of salt surprised us."
The town also plans to use the water for heating in Rapovce and Lučenec.

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