Czech Republic creates Strava art to mark 100th anniversary

Is Strava art a thing of the past? Not in the Czech Republic, which marked the 100th anniversary of its former iteration, Czechoslovakia, on Sunday with a massive GPS doodle representing the two-tailed lion that is one of the country’s national symbols.

RELATED: Romantic, creative and artistic Strava routes

The project, called Lvi Stopa (which translates as Lion’s Footprint), was a collaboration between the Czech auto maker Skoda and We Love Cycling, and supported by a number of other national organizations. It involved tracking a complicated route that spanned almost the entire width of the country, using 150 cyclists.

 

https://runningmagazine.ca/the-scene/czech-republic-creates-strava-art-to-mark-100th-anniversary/

Bulgaria smashes ‘fake passport scam’

Prosecutors in Bulgaria say they have smashed a passport scam which saw thousands fraudulently acquire Bulgarian citizenship – and with it, the right to travel and work throughout the European Union.

More than 20 people have been arrested, including officials.

Applicants are said to have paid up to $5,690 (£4,445) for fake certificates of Bulgarian origin.

Police have raided the offices of the State Agency for Bulgarians Abroad.

Staff at the agency were allegedly involved in selling fake certificates to buyers in nearby non-EU countries.

Many of the false applications are believed to have come from states with sizeable ethnic Bulgarian minorities, including Moldova, Macedonia and the Ukraine.

Some reports suggest the agency was issuing about 30 dubious certificates a week.

Prosecutors say they are investigating the agency’s work on counts including bribe-taking, forgery and abuse of office.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46021561

Slovakia will try to rent out Bratislava Airport

Transport Minister Árpád Érsek proposes renting Bratislava airport to a concessionaire for 30 years, the SITA newswire wrote.

It cited a draft public-private partnership project for selecting a concessionaire for the operation of M.R. Štefánik Airport in Bratislava (BTS), which his department submitted on October 26 for a fast-tracked interdepartmental review.

The expedited review should be closed as early as on November 2, as the Ministry claims, there is an urgent need to carry out further actions resulting from the project as well as the entire procedure of selecting a concessionaire. According to the proposed schedule, the concession agreement could come into force as soon as 2021.

The document mentions a concession for a strategic partner in the form of a public-private partnership as about the best option for the future of the largest Slovak international airport.

Indebted airport needs investments

The Ministry expects that this step will secure the long-term sustainable development of the airport, with the State benefiting from it, alongside the investor, the Sme daily reported.

The concession should minimise threats connected with the ownership and operation of the airport, while certain control and strategic assets will remain with the State, the ministry argues.

Connection with strategic partner recommended

“The variant involving the rental of the airport to a foreign partner has been discussed repeatedly, and ultimately, this option has been shown to be the best and most advantageous for the State,” Érsek said, as quoted by Sme. “I believe it will help make the biggest Slovak international airport – with a strategic position within Europe – visible. I am sure that thanks to sufficient investments which the State cannot render to the airport, its prestige and quality of service can improve, and it can attract new airline operators.”

The Transport Ministry elaborated a feasibility study which explored several options such as development by current management, or granting the concession to a strategic partner.

The documents ultimately find a strategic partner to be the best solution, with the State acquiring an extra €61 million, and a higher residential value for BTS when it is returned.

The planned timeline

The conclusion of the concession is expected by June 2020, after a public tender. Its subject should be the operation, maintenance and development of Bratislava airport, while the runways and the connected infrastructure should remain in the ownership of BTS, according to Sme.

“By implementing the project of public-private-partnership in the form of granting a concession, the long-term sustainable development of M. R. Štefánik Airport will be secured,” the ministry predicts, as cited by Sme. “The precondition is that the strategic partner improves the competitive position of BTS in the region and increases the offer and quality of the airport services.”

 

https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20948886/slovakia-will-try-to-rent-bratislava-airport.html

Slovakia threatens to freeze relations with Vietnam over kidnapping case

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovakia has threatened to freeze relations with Vietnam over the case of a Vietnamese businessman who Germany says was kidnapped by Vietnamese agents and smuggled back home through Slovakia, the Slovak foreign ministry said on Saturday.

German prosecutors have said businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh, who had sought asylum in Germany, was abducted in a Berlin street by Vietnamese secret service agents and taken back to Vietnam, where he was tried and jailed for life.

The alleged incident took place during a visit to Slovakia by Vietnamese public security minister To Lam in July 2017.

Slovakia’s foreign minister met with his Vietnamese counterpart on the sidelines of a UN general assembly meeting last month seeking an explanation but the country has yet to hear back from Hanoi, the ministry said.

“We haven’t yet received a reply from Vietnam,” the ministry said in a statement. Minister Miroslav Lajcak said that unless Hanoi provided a credible explanation of how the kidnapped (Vietnamese) citizen got to Vietnam, bilateral relations between the countries would be frozen.

 

“Slovakia is a serious state and will draw resolute diplomatic consequences if the suspicions that Vietnam is facing prove to be true.”

The case has also soured relations between Germany and Vietnam and prompted Germany to accuse Vietnam of breaching international law. A German court in July sentenced a Vietnamese man to three years and 10 months in jail after he confessed to helping his country’s secret services kidnap Thanh.

Slovakia sought to distance itself from the incident following a report in Dennik N alleging Thanh was taken in a van from Berlin via Prague to Bratislava, where he was added to the Vietnamese minister’s delegation and left on a Slovak government plane.

Former interior minister Robert Kalinak in August denied any involvement in the kidnapping, calling the media report “science-fiction”.

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-slovakia-politics/slovakia-threatens-to-freeze-relations-with-vietnam-over-kidnapping-case-idUSKCN1MU09T