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Slovakian report Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-07-03 09:34:18
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Europe's last 'sherpas' going strong in Slovakia

Barely visible under a keg of beer, bottles of water and sacks of heating coke on his back, Slovak Edo Liptak sets out on his gruelling daily climb as one of Europe's last mountain porters. The High Tatras, Europe's smallest Alpine-type mountain range, are still home to this rugged breed of mountain men -- comparable to the famed Himalayan Sherpas.

In the Alps and other European mountain ranges, they have long been replaced by helicopters and cable cars. "The key is not to think too much as you walk up. You have to free your mind and the rest will follow," chuckled Liptak as he prepared to trek 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) up the mountain from Hrebienok, a ski resort at 1,285 metres (4,215 feet) altitude and the last outpost of civilisation in this wilderness. His loads can weigh far more than his own 82 kilos (180 pounds). "It's a great job - it gives me freedom, energy and persistence," he said, deftly hoisting a 106-kilogram load strapped to a wooden frame resembling a short ladder onto his back.

At 37 years old, Liptak will soon celebrate 20 years as a sherpa -- as they are known in these parts -- carrying food, drinks, laundry, heating materials and all other essential supplies to remote, high-altitude cabins. These cabins are located in strictly protected nature reserves where cable cars or roads are forbidden. Most of them have very limited storage capacity and there is no power, running water or refrigeration. The Zamkovsky cabin where Liptak was heading was built in 1943 and employs four sherpas year-round. They hike up about three times a day, carrying at least 60 kilograms per trip, owner Jana Kalincikova told AFP. "It would make more sense to rent a helicopter to transport the supplies but we have only three refrigerators powered by a water turbine so we need sherpas to carry smaller packages more frequently," she explained. "It's a tough job for tough men who love nature," said Kalincikova, whose oldest sherpa is a former professional dancer, aged 58. Besides carrying supplies, sherpas also do the laundry, dishes and cook at the cabins that are open all-year-round.


Digital media and broadband market insights

Slovakia's Internet market is undergoing a transition, with broadband the predominant Internet access method. Broadband access competition is predominately infrastructure-based. Popular platforms include DSL, FttX, cable and wireless broadband. Broadband is being sold as a platform through which telecom operators hope to sell additional services, such as broadband TV. Increased Internet usage is supporting Slovakia's Internet society, which has received substantial EU funding to develop and improve access to e-government services. Digital terrestrial TV has been launched. This report profiles Slovakia's broadband, convergence and broadcasting markets in 2011, providing an overview of major players, numerous statistics and fixed broadband uptake forecasts from 2010 to 2013, and 2020.


Slovakia making progress in combating human trafficking

Slovakia has achieved significant progress in combating human trafficking, advancing from the second grade to the top grade in the USA's three-grade scale, US Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick announced at a press conference at the Interior Ministry on Tuesday, June 28.

According to the ambassador, this progress is thanks to the level of education concerning the problem among police officers, prosecutors and judges. "It doesn't mean that our job is done. We can always strive for more," said Sedgwick, as quoted by the TASR newswire, adding that a US Government report contains a number of recommendations for further improvements in this sphere. He noted that around 12 million people worldwide fall victim to human trafficking every year. The Interior Ministry has elaborated a comprehensive programme of care for the victims of human trafficking, said Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic. This programme includes financial and social support for the victims, legal advice, health care, retraining courses and help for those who voluntarily return to their native countries.

Lipšic added that the ministry has set up an information centre aimed at preventing human trafficking in Roma communities, as unemployed, poorly informed and socially challenged people often become victims of this type of crime.

Interior Ministry State Secretary Maroš Žilinka announced that Slovakia has received a grant from the EU amounting to €119,000 for setting up a database aimed at uncovering human trafficking. The project, linked to foreign data, will cost €150,000 in total. Lipšic also spoke about one of the biggest cases of human trafficking in Slovakia's history, which involved almost a dozen suspects. The police concluded their investigation in April and the case is now being dealt with by prosecutors. It involves 150 women, who were hired as hostesses but ended up working as prostitutes throughout Europe.

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