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Slovakia
Soldiers investigated over alcohol, cigarette smuggling

SLOVAK peacekeepers attempted to smuggle alcohol and cigarettes into the country on their way back from the peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, Hungarian border officials allege.
Hungarian customs officers found 450 litres of alcohol and 320 boxes of cigarettes in a truck transporting luggage belonging to Slovak peacekeepers, the Pravda daily reported on August 2. The soldiers travelled home by plane.
The Slovak side has not yet received official information about the incident, the Nový Čas daily wrote on August 1, so officials said it wasn't clear how the contraband got into the luggage shipment.
The Slovak army has launched an investigation into the matter.
Defence Minister František Kašický was supposed to award medals to soldiers from Kosovo on August 3, but the ceremony was cancelled pending the investigation.
"Defence Minister František Kašický ordered an investigation into the whole situation and the medal ceremony was postponed," ministry spokeswoman Soňa Baniarová said.


Slovakia
Interior Ministry offers prisoner-made goods

THE INTERIOR Ministry website has become an online shopping centre for items made by prisoners in Slovak jails
The ministry sells goods made by prisoners to state employees, as well as the general public. The online catalogue was created to help people see the range of products that are available, the SITA newswire reported.
Prisoners in Ilava manufacture office furniture. They are also expected to make furniture for the Special Court in Pezinok set up to fight high-level corruption and organised crime.
Prisoners in Sečany and Prešov produce furniture from sheet metal and plywood. In Bystrica-Kráľová, they do woodworking and also sew bedding, towels and shorts. The corrections unit in Želiezovce offers similar products.
The only women's prison in Slovakia, in Nitra-Chrenová, produces socks. Prisoners in Dubnica nad Váhom make black coveralls for police units.
The only corrections unit with food on its list is the prison in Leopoldov. The prisoners bake bread and other goods. The catalogue also offers distilled water, with one litre selling for Sk2 (six eurocents).


Slovakia
Slovaks are getting heavier

THE NUMBER of overweight people in Slovakia is rising, just as it is elsewhere. Nearly half of Slovaks are overweight, while a quarter are obese, the Pravda daily wrote on July 18.
Obesity is not only a health problem, but also an economic one. The EU allocates seven percent of its total healthcare budget to the treatment of obesity.
"Care for one obese person costs as much as care for three patients with other conditions put together," said professor Johan Polder at a conference on obesity that took place in Brussels in June.
The cost of treating obesity is also increasing in Slovakia. While state-owned health insurer Všeobecná Zdravotná Poisťovňa paid more than Sk7.5 million (€226,000) for treating around 11,000 obese patients in 2004, in 2006 the figure rose above Sk11 million (€328,360) for some 12,000 patients.
This only includes patients who were diagnosed with obesity.
Obese people also suffer from numerous associated diseases, such as cardio-vascular problems, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Doctors are not content with insurance payments in this area.
"They don't pay for or even contribute towards time-consuming consultations and continuous educational training," said Dr. Peter Minárik. "The obese person is often left to non-healthcare institutions or to following their own diets taken from rather inappropriate literary sources, such as the popular 90-day diet, or the separated diet (which separates fats, carbohydrates, etc.)"
Men suffer more from being overweight than women do, but obesity is more frequent among women, Minárik said.


Zvolen
Zvolen Castle adds wheelchair elevator

THE ZVOLEN Castle has become the first in Slovakia with an elevator that lets people in wheelchairs visit exhibitions upstairs, the Pravda daily wrote.
The idea to rebuild the old cargo elevator into a barrier-free elevator came to the castle's Peter Heneš five years ago when he visited galleries in Munich and Brussels. Because the castle hosts the Slovak National Gallery and regularly organises exhibitions, concerts, theatre and opera performances and other cultural events, he wanted a way to make the castle accessible for everybody.
Moreover, near Zvolen is the village of Kováčová, which has a physical rehabilitation centre. People undergoing treatment there do not have many opportunities to attend cultural events.
"It seems obvious to me that these people have challenges with accessibility everywhere," Heneš said. "They have problems getting into offices, banks and other institutions. Why put barriers in their way for culture?"
After a complex review, experts confirmed that the cargo lift could be transformed into a lift for people with disabilities. The city contributed Sk40,000 (€1,200) for the repairs needed for the castle's interior, and the local Rotary club gave Sk180,000 (€5,400).
Other people with health problems and the elderly can use the lift operated by gallery staff.
"I would be very pleased if something similar happened in other castles in Slovakia as well," Heneš said.


Trenčín
Romans camp below Trenčín Castle again

Roman soldiers have returned to their northernmost central-European outpost after almost 1900 years.
photo: TASR

ANCIENT Romans returned to the western Slovak town of Trenčín and built a military camp at Mierové Square below the castle on July 30.
The re-enactment continued for a whole week to recall the times 1,800 years ago when soldiers of the second legion crossed the borders of the Roman Empire and spent the winter in enemy territory at a military camp called Laugaricio.
A Roman inscription on the Trenčín castle rock from 179 AD denotes the site as Laugaricio, and is the northernmost evidence of the presence of Roman soldiers in Central Europe.
The more recent camp consists of white military tents, a cookery-house and a place where soldiers trained in military strategy. Visitors to the Castle Festivities also saw gladiator fights and scenes from life in an ancient military camp, and tasted the cuisine of that era.
"Roman cuisine was known for its usage of fruits, but also for its pastry," camp commander Marcus Valerius Maximianus - also known as Ladislav Sekerka, the head of the Wagus historical reenactment group - told the TASR newswire. "Cooks prepared various cakes, sweet as well as savoury, with several sauces."


Skalica
Trdelník cake set to get protected status from Brussels

Skalica will soon be recognised as the only place to find authentic trdelník.
photo: TASR

THE TRADITIONAL trdelník cake from the town of Skalica will likely be the first Slovak product to obtain a protected label from the EU, the Pravda daily wrote.
Trdelník looks set to beat sheep's cheeses such as bryndza, oštiepok and parenica, which are among the other Slovak products currently awaiting protected status from the European Commission.
The people of Skalica (Trnava Region) could celebrate as early as October, when the six-month period for final objections from confectioners from other EU member states expires. If no objections are raised, the cake will be the first original Slovak food product to be registered in Brussels.
Trdelník is perhaps the best-known cake in Slovakia. It is light and very sweet, formed in a long roll with a hole running through the middle. The pastry is made by wrapping the dough around a wooden rod, called a trdlo, and baking it over an open fire.
Afterwards it is covered with crushed nuts and sugar. The ingredients in a home-made trdelník vary, but usually include walnuts, almonds and cinnamon.


Bratislava
Fountain draws more unwanted activity

It's unclear what causes tourists to repeatedly mistake Bratislava's Ganymedes Fountain for a bathroom fixture.
photo: Jana Liptáková

ANOTHER foreign tourist has run into trouble after using the fountain in front of the Slovak National Theatre in a way that he ought not.
A 24-year-old French man was nabbed by Bratislava police after he used the Ganymedes fountain as a urinal on July 31, the TASR newswire reported.
A nearby police camera caught him in the act, and Old Town police later tracked him down and handed him a fine of Sk1,000 (€30), metro police spokesman Peter Pleva told the newswire.
In May, a British tourist was jailed after he reportedly swam naked and masturbated in the fountain.

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