News digest: No plans to withdraw Slovak diplomats from Kyiv

Scenarios drafted for potential war between Russia and Ukraine. Home isolation shortened. Trains around Bratislava will be lacking again.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. Read the Monday, January 24, 2022 edition of Today in Slovakia to catch up on the main news of the day in less than five minutes. We wish you a pleasant read.

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War in Ukraine would impact Slovakia

The Sme daily has reported on possible scenarios Slovakia might experience if the conflict between Ukraine and Russia escalates into an all-out war.

One scenario envisions thousands of scared Ukrainians crossing Slovakia’s eastern border, passing the reinforced border check without complications – all they need to show would be their ID card. They would find refuge with their relatives and friends who have lived in Slovakia for a long time now.

The government would announce a national emergency and call up reserve soldiers. Meanwhile, a NATO mission would arrive to military bases, and hundreds of troops from various countries would arrive for more of a symbolic mission. If the military conflict spilled across the border, allies would be ready to protect Slovakia.

The economy minister would cooperate with his Czech and Hungarian counterparts to negotiate extraordinary gas supplies in the event Russia lives up to its threats and halts the gas flow through Ukraine, while the foreign affairs minister would be preparing to expel Russian diplomats.

A war between two countries in the immediate neighbourhood would be a new experience for Slovakia in its recent history. Many things remain unpredictable, but we can roughly estimate the challenges Slovakia would need to face, Sme reported.

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The Defence Ministry claims that it has drafted plans for such a situation. The plans are secret.

There are no legal commitments for Slovakia to defend Ukraine, and it would not be able to actively join the conflict, according to Sme.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee) said Slovakia sees no reason to prepare the evacuation of diplomats from Kiev.

“Conversely, their presence is important because it is a proof of our ability to achieve political solution,” Korčok said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Read also an opinion piece by James Thomson, who claims that the parallels between Russia’s approach to Ukraine and Hitler’s to Czechoslovakia in 1938 are uncanny:

There goes the neighbourhood Read more 

For a deeper insight into current affairs, check out our Last Week in Slovakia report published earlier today. You can sign up for the newsletter here.


Coronavirus and vaccination news

  • 3,503 people were newly diagnosed as Covid positive out of 9,684 PCR tests performed on January 23. The number of people in hospitals is 1,497; and 32 more deaths were reported on Sunday. The vaccination rate is at 50.70 percent, 2,788,590 people having received the first dose of the vaccine. More stats on Covid-19 in Slovakia here.
  • As many as 40,751 people tested positive in the past week, 23,897 more than a week before. The highest number of positive PCR tests were reported in Žilina Region (7,467), the least in Banská Bystrica Region (2,932), according to the National Health Information Centre.
  • The home isolation of people who test positive for Covid will be shortened from 10 to five days, starting on Tuesday, January 25. In addition, the ordinance published by the Public Health Authority contains several new definitions, for example of those labelled as close contacts, and new clinical symptoms for Covid. Those who received a positive test result before January 25 follow the old rules.
  • The death rate of inhabitants of marginalised Roma communities was double that of the majority population during the second pandemic wave, according to analysts from the Value for Money unit.

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Picture of the day

Slovak Olympic and Paralympic athletes made a vow to President Zuzana Čaputová. Altogether 50 athletes will represent the country at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, scheduled for February 4-20, and the Winter Paralympic Games scheduled for March 4-13.


Feature story for today

The Three Borders, a place where the countries of Slovakia, Austria and Hungary meet, is accessible again. In mid-November 2021, the Club of Slovak Tourists (KST) marked a new touristic path to this popular venue bypassing a fence that Hungary built along its highway as one of its anti-pandemic measures. The Three Borders spot lies on the edge of the Protected Bird Area (CHVÚ) Sysľovské Polia. As it has the fifth and highest degree of protection, people are prohibited from entering this area. Walking is allowed along the official touristic path.

The Three Borders near Bratislava is accessible again, legally Read more 

In other news

  • If the parliamentary election took place in January, the Hlas party would win it with 18 percent of the vote. Junior coalition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) would come second with 14.2 percent support, followed by the opposition Smer party with 13.8 percent, according to a recent AKO poll conducted for the private broadcaster TV JOJ between January 10 and 17 on 1,000 respondents.
  • The police have detained well-known far-right extremist Marián Magát in Čadca, northern Slovakia, for an unknown reason. Magát is known for his admiration of Adolf Hitler, whom back in 2013 he called a peacemaker, great economist, speaker and a person with his heart in the right place.
  • About three dozen trains running to and from Bratislava will be cancelled this week, the state-run passenger carrier ZSSK announced. The reason is the lack of engine drivers and the coronavirus pandemic. A similar step was adopted the previous week, with the carrier stating the same reasons.
  • The AirCar dual-mode car-aircraft vehicle has been issued the official Certificate of Airworthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority, following the successful completion of 70 hours of rigorous flight testing compatible with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards, with over 200 takeoffs and landings.

More on Spectator.sk:

Slovak cinemas screen Nordic films this week Read more 

After years of absence, river otter returns home Read more 

If you have suggestions on how this news overview can be improved, you can reach us at editorial@spectator.sk.

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