The unemployment rate in Slovakia dropped to 14.4 percent in April, 0.27 percent lower than the previous month. The number of job applicants ready to start work immediately now stands at 388,948 or 7,304 less than in March. Slovak Labor Minister Ján Richter announced the data at a press conference May 20 and expressed hope that by the end of the year unemployment in Slovakia will drop to 14 percent. However, analysts from the Slovak central bank attribute the decrease to the availability of seasonal work.
The Polish government is preparing tough regulations for foreign companies wishing to tap into the country's shale gas resources. The government wants to require each foreign company to take a state-run company as a production partner. They also want to impose a heavy tax on exploration, which Ernst & Young estimates to be at 80 percent of profit. The measures have not yet become law, but as of May only two wells have been drilled out of 39 planned for 2013. "What's been done here is what Poles call dividing up the bear hide before you've shot the bear," said Tom Maj, who led the Polish operations of Talisman Energy Inc., a Canadian company that pulled out of Poland earlier this month.
Relations between Budapest and Berlin have become strained following a spat between the governments over comments made by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that were littered with military - and Nazi - analogies. Responding to Merkel's criticism of his government, Orbán said May 17 that he hoped Germany would not send any more "tanks" as they did in World War II because then "it didn't work out." The references to German aggression came just days before the two leaders were to meet at a May 23 EU summit. Merkel responded by saying that Germany would "do everything to put Hungary on the right path," except sending in the "cavalry." German Foreign Affairs Minister Guido Westerwelle described Orbán's comments as a "regrettable derailment."
The country's president has ordered an inquiry into why his country gave Russia "nul points" at the Eurovision Song Contest May 18. Officials state both voters and the official jury supported the Russian contestant. Azerbaijan's state media suggested the voting might have been violated. In its turn, Russia gave the highest mark, 12 points, to the representative from Azerbaijan who came second in the overall contest. Russia's singer took fifth place.
The United Kingdom will send its first astronaut to the International Space Station in 20 years. Timothy Peake, a former Apache helicopter pilot with the British Army, is set to go in 2015. Peake's nomination is regarded as a sign of the growing UK space industry. "It's an event like this, sending an astronaut up to the space station, that really brings home to people that we're serious, and it signals that Britain is a space-faring nation and proud of it," said the Universities and Science Minister David Willetts.
The European Parliament discussed the possible ways to tackle tax evasion prior to the European Union summit on the issue hold May 22. According to the EU, as much as 1 trillion euros per year, seven times the EU budget, are lost in the member states due to tax evasion. Parliament is expected to seek a Europe-wide blacklist of tax havens and put pressure on non-EU member Switzerland over the secrecy of its banks. Greek and French politicians were recently discovered to have secret Swiss bank accounts.
Riots broke out in Stockholm in the early morning of May 20 when about 50 young people took to the streets of Husby, a low-income immigrant neighborhood of apartment blocks in the northwest of Stockholm. The rioters hurled rocks at the police and set cars and buildings on fire. The police were forced to evacuate an apartment block when an adjacent parking garage was set on fire. The riot presumably took place over a police shooting of an elderly man in the neighborhood earlier in the month.
A British citizen residing in France was arrested May 20 for allegedly killing his two children. The bodies of a 5-year-old girl and her 10-year-old brother were found in the Lyon apartment of their father, a 47-year-old divorced British man. Both bodies had knife wounds. The children were spending a weekend with their father, who had divorced their mother three years before. According to neighbors, the man left the apartment on roller skates and was arrested later in the day in the center of Lyon. Prosecutors are deciding whether to charge the man with premeditated murder.
Three people died and more than 20 were injured in a hot-air balloon accident May 20 in the tourist region of Cappadocia. The accident happened when two hot-air balloons collided. One ascending balloon was torn open as it hit the basket of the other balloon and plunged to the ground, the BBC reported. Three Brazilian tourists were killed. Turkey's civil aviation agency says it has launched an investigation that is mainly focused on whether there were too many balloons in the air. Witnesses reported that as many as 100 balloons were in the air the morning of May 20.