April 2008

Who controls NATO?
They want to be a strong national and European university
Is your university operating in the area of European education?
Why are external students so important for the university?
Will the Slovak universities get closer to those that are the best in Europe?
Who is Prof. PhDr. Beata Kosová, CSc.?
Rákóczi’s castle is waiting for its strong investor
Endless reconstruction has been lasting since 1985
The port and the spa waiting for the investor
Cycling route
The Rákóczi’s Uprising
Cyprus attracts young Slovak families
Life easier than in Slovakia?
Maternity leave for 16 weeks only
Comparison of child benefits
Aircraft repair shop overcame the worst crisis
Medieval Heritage of Bulgaria

Who controls NATO?
Croatia and Albania, the poorest country in Europe, were invited by NATO Summit held in Bucharest to enlarge the number of members of this strongest and contradicting military pact in the world up to 28 members. It is expected they will become the members next year when the Transatlantic Alliance will celebrate 60 years of its existence.
The development of this alliance mainly controlled by Washington and London proves that the Pact originally defending from the Soviet Union has become a pact without clear common military doctrine unable to define their common enemy. Over past ten years of this policy of “ prevention, attack and spreading peace, security and cooperation” predominantly in Europe, the organization has grossly violated not only the international law but chiefly the UN Chart appealing to the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty. It still reads: “The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”
The same preamble also says: “(The Parties to this Treaty) seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area,” So, taking this constellation into consideration that not only the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania but also Croatia and Albania (14 states altogether) will “toil” for the North Atlantic area, its well-being and security, where is Mexico? Why is it not included? It is hard to believe that well- educated and sophisticated brains of strategists in NATO “have forgotten” to cross out this constellation after the fall of Berlin Wall. So as we are permanently being taught by “unerring” politologists and safety analysts the truth is what has been written down and not what our logical thinking says or what people feel in their hearts and souls when demonstrating in the streets carrying slogans: “Fuck NATO, Fuck USA”. Or when people are, for example, so naive and collect signatures for the referendum on membership of NATO as it is just happening in Croatia… In case of enlarging NATO, not the voters and their opinions matter but their governments and parliaments make decisions. And top politicians of states, whose influence on European and world politics is comparable with non- existing resistance movement against Hitler at the time when Mr Neville Chamberlain was signing Munich Treaty allegedly to save peace in Europe, have understood clearly that it is worth reading between the lines just about bonuses and individual well- being, that it is worth finding political and safety analysts who having been given grants or particular financial gifts will explain to the citizens the sense of collective security and protection of values of the European civilization. By the way, aren’t they the values of directed and controlled democracy? Or the values of absolute democracy and economical freedom? Or are they values different from those in Sweden, Austria, Finland and in Switzerland that are not the members of the Pact?
The Article 1 reads: “The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.” Written nicely. However, it is true in real life?
Well, let’s think about the Article 5 which has something to do with our question: “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security (And now read very carefully- editor’s note) of the North Atlantic area.“ Let’s add that the use of such force the approval of the UN Security Council is needed. And now let’s think together: Are Bosnia and Herzegovina, self-appointed the Kosovo Republic and Afghanistan in the North Atlantic area? When did these states attack the members of NATO? Or did Yugoslavian army (Serbian) attack the USA and Great Britain in March 1999 when their air - forces led a war with the Serbian army on behalf of NATO and without a mandate of the UN Security Council? Or the case if Afghanistan - have the Americans ever proved to NATO, old and new members that the soldiers from Afghanistan attacked American Twins in New York on 11 September 2001? Had Afghanistan ever declared the war on the USA or other member of NATO? When? Is NATO fighting for peace in Afghanistan and actually, who is Slovakia fighting against? Against alleged terrorists hiding in caves and broadcasting from Qatar that is controlled by the USA? Cannot Afghani army and police manage to cope with terrorists themselves? Why aren’t NATO troops sent to terrorist in Spain, Northern Ireland and in Albania that used to train former terrorist troops (KLA) of a present Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thachi? Did you also get a headache from all these questions? Do you find speeches of European and American politicians ridiculous and pathetic? Many of them say that the mankind has never invented anything better than democracy, well, if we do not take technological and industrial revolutions into consideration. Yes, there are also religions and their pacifistic ideologies. They are marvellous if observed. But what to do with leaders who do harm others on behalf of God or Allah but they claim they are fighting for the right thing and values? We are still trapped by this schizophrenia and we forget that NATO is not under the international control of the UN that this military pact can be competed only by Russia and China and that this organization is the mean of spreading ideology of economic, political and military supremacy of the USA and Great Britain over weaker and smaller “new partners” in enlarged North Atlantic area.
Róbert Matejovič, editor in chief

They want to be a strong national and European university
What will be the profit of a big company that decides to invest huge amount of money in a project or equipment of laboratories at the university? Such investments are not even tax- deductible. Thus they rather build their own ones. And then all people criticize that graduates are not well- prepared in terms of the training, considering the current development, “claims Professor Beata Kosová, Rector of Matej Bel University.
From historical point of view, she is the first woman- holding the post of a rector. And moreover, she is the second woman who received an academic degree “professor of pedagogy” in Slovakia. Since 21 November 2006, when President I. Gašparovič appointed her as a rector, she has been managing dynamically developing and ambitious social and scientific Matej Bel University Bel in Banská Bystrica. Although this university was established only in 1992 when the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Economics of Services and Tourism joined together, it has become the important educational and cultural centre in Central Slovakia. Nowadays, it has 1250 employees and almost 16, 000 students studying pedagogical, humanities, social, natural, economic, legal and political bachelor, master and doctor studies at six faculties.
What was the most important argument that motivated you to become a rector? Do you want to improve university reputation and thus give it a Central European dimension or just prove as a feminist that a woman can manage such a post?
There are always a few motives and it was the same in my case. Honestly, I must confess that whoever decides to work in such a position must be convinced that he or she has adequate skills to manage it. So the crucial motive is always the challenge to test oneself and achieve something. The second motive is usually discontentment with the way things are developing and the attempt to solve the situation differently. And I also thought that the university should be more integrated and cooperative, much more open to domestic and foreign environment and more efficient from economic point of view. And the third important motive was high fidelity of the academic circles at university that reflected in the largest number of proposals, of both employees and students, supporting my candidacy and finally, that was a strong moral reason why I had accepted the candidacy.

Your university is named after a very famous native from Očová, outstanding and respected Slovak and Hungarian polymath, a pioneer of Modern Enlightenment, the only one of most respectable European scientists from the first half of the 18th century who was called “A jewel of the Hungarian Kingdom”. How do you manage to meet his legacy - to work for a nation?
Looking back on our short history, there has not been anything we should be ashamed of. Like him, we also did our best to educate our young people to become good citizens so that we could express it with his words: “to do up the jewel, honesty and benefit to your country. “And we do the same as he did at the Evangelic secondary grammar school in Banská Bystrica and at the Seminary in Bratislava that, according to historians, were living their golden age under his leadership, i.e. we care about the education at our school in order to keep its high quality, good organization, we keep updating and innovating its contents. And the result of our 15-year work is - 32,000 graduates who are successful in social life as well as economic world. It can be proved by the statistics issued by the Job Offices which register 95% employment rate of our approximately 4000 graduates a year. And the fact that our university develops and influences the national human potential from educational point of view can be proved by another fact- since the establishment of our university; we have increased the number of students six times while interest in studying at our school exceeds the capacities despite the negative population curve in Slovakia. Many graduates return to continue studying within lifelong education. We are open to students at any age. Our Third Age University for seniors has more that 5700 graduates from seventeen different fields of study. Approximately 1200 students attend our courses every year. In 2007, we also opened popular - learning courses of the Matej Bel University for Children. So far, we have registered almost 10 000 people who attended various courses for seniors including seniors. Thus we meet Matej Bel´s legacy.

The establishers of the university presumed that MBU would soon become a place of spirit, ethos and broad enthusiasm, the institution of science, culture and art. Can you say now that the university has already reached this basic vision?
I think that yes. All our studying programs offered by our faculties are fully accredited and granted by our outstanding Slovak and foreign specialists. In its early years, the university had 288 university teachers, nowadays; there are over 730 of them. The university began with 17 professors and 70 readers, at present the high quality of education is assured by 80 professors and over 130 readers. This dynamic qualification growth was also supported by the fact that the faculties have their right to habilitate reader and inaugurate professors in twelve field of study. Sixty-six foreign pedagogues and lecturers are operating at our faculties at the moment. Moreover, around 250 foreign visitors visit our university every year. Thirty- nine creative scientists participate in the science development. The logo of your university reads: “erudition mores futurum”- i.e. “education forms the future”. Is it just a cliché or conviction that you defend? It is simple- the future of the city, nation or the country is formed by well-educated and moral people thinking reasonably and critically, acting flexibly and constructively, people capable of creative self-realization and positive social deeds. It is our supreme priority. Should we be trying very hard to earn international reputation of the university, our first and the most import task will be to provide high level of education of our citizens in our Central Slovak region and in Slovakia and permanently increase the quality by offering various kinds and forms of university study as well as post-graduate study according to the development of the scientific knowledge, market needs and the society.

Is your university operating in the area of European education?
Yes, in various ways. One of them is exchange programs for students and teachers. Every student who courageous enough and feels like change can go abroad to study for one semester while achieved results are recognized within the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. Thanks to exchange programs, our students stay in touch with more than 160 universities from all over the world. Every year our teacher and scientists travel to more than 550 event and studies held in foreign countries. Within credit system of study almost all faculties of our university offer our and foreign students opportunities to choose subject taught in foreign languages, especially in English.
Next is the offer of the whole programmes in a foreign language or in cooperation with other foreign universities and colleges. The Faculty of Economy offers master study in Economics and management of enterprises, the Faculty of political sciences and international relationships offers the program International relationships, the Faculty of Natural Sciences offers programs like financial mathematics or Mathematics in Informatics, the Faculty of Education offers the study of Evanjelical Theology. The student of bachelor study at our Faculty of Economics can partially study the Poitiers University in France and thus obtain a double diploma of the first cycle.

Your university collaborates with Champagne Ardenne University in French town of Remeš and the University Paris X Nanterre, which programmes are you developing?
Our Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations together with the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences have been carrying out their common Francophone study programme - European Studies - a specialist for Central and East Europe in the study area of international relations. It is supposed to educate and train specialists for political, economic, financial and social conditions of the countries in this region able to respond to opportunities of European integration. The result for s student is a double diploma issued by our university and the University Champagne- Ardenne in Remes. Our Faculty of Law is also preparing a common master study programme called “International Business Law in cooperation with the Paris X Nanterre University where students from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are supposed to take part.

The basic mission of MBU is to provide education at European and world quality level. What does it mean?
Yes, it is our goal that at least means that graduates from our university should be recognized on the labour market anywhere in Europe.

What is the reality like?
It depends on the field of study. For example, our graduates from the area of social pedagogy found their jobs in Germany and Belgium. Many graduates of the Faculty of Political Sciences and International Relations are employed in the European structures in Brussels and at many embassies. However, there are the areas of study where it is not so easy because following the Slovak traditions we witness senseless anomaly. In the field of economics we educate Engineers of Economics - the term that is not understood in the world as the title “engineer” is used for graduates of technical studies, mainly mechanical engineering and in the field of economics they know only the term “master of economics”. However, the change of the law on higher education is needed. Therefore, we do our best to reach other forms of international recognition which is often much more demanding in terms of time and people. For example, we succeeded in obtaining the international accreditation in the study programmes “Economics of Public Services” and “Economics of Public Administration and Regional Development” where the graduates receive an internationally accredited diploma “European Association for Public Administration Accreditation.“ The bachelor study programme “Evanjelical Theology and Mission“ are just before completion the international accreditation. By the way, this programme is unique in Central and East Europe. Or the development of new common study programmes through the international projects, for example MANTRA- Management through Autonomy in collaboration with Austria, Poland, Bulgarian and Turkey. The project deals with an innovative management. Or the project FINAC - Finance and Accounting for Common Europe in which we are preparing a common programme focused in finances and banking industry in cooperation with Holland and Slovenia.

You returned from Italy and Great Britain just before Easter where you signed agreements on mutual collaboration with Per Stranieri University in Perugia and Trent University in Nottingham. How can these agreements help your university?
In Perugia I signed an agreement on cooperation in the field of teaching of Italian language which we would like to develop more and to reach a precise agreement for the year 2008 on motilities of students and teacher within the programme ERASMUS. Even now, there is one university teacher studying and improving his language skills there for six months. This contract that focuses on teaching foreigner Italian language will enable us to get teacher from that university under very good conditions and thus provide our students with significant discount on a semester stay in Perugia if they are interested. In Great Britain, I signed a contract with Trent University in Nottingham on realization of MBA (Master of Business Administration) study in the future, which organizes now for top managers in both Slovak and English languages. This study is for graduates from universities (people holding managerial posts, entrepreneurs) in order to improve their managerial skills. The title and the diploma are highly recognized abroad in the fields of business and entrepreneurship so it is on great demand predominantly required by those with international contacts. A student will automatically receive all studying materials of Nottingham University and the access to all its databases. After three years of studying in Slovak and English language, we had to go through a demanding process of so-called revalidation - which is a kind of accreditation that we are able to provide further education of the same contents and at the same level as Nottingham University that is completed by a diploma. We did very well so we can continue proving this type of study. We also discussed the possibilities of continuing in lifelong education on the second cycle of higher education.

Last year, MBU got involved in the process of evaluation from the side of the European University Association. Could you do that earlier? Or the university had not reached required criteria of evaluation? What is the result? What is the university obliged to do?
Previous management of the university was not interested in that kind of evaluation. Evaluation does not oblige us to do anything, however, the university had to face reality what I find very important and inspiring. We think that moving forward, new thinking, innovative inspirations and productive changes can occur only in international comparison and collaboration. This principle is one of the key ones in our long- term intension. A person having studied at university and worked there his entire life can, no matter he wants it or not, remain obstructed by their routine and opinions and might have a problem to see thing from a different point of view. Apart from that how do we really know what is traditional and good? Only in confrontation of arguments, outputs and consequences that appear. Therefore, in the future, we would like to be a strong national university but with significant European dimension.

To join national and European- is it possible to do so that it did not remain a proclamation only?
Of course, it is. And it is our goal. A good example how to protect, develop and spread national values and join them with European is an international research. For example the Faculty of Humanities of MBU deals with three large research areas in the field of history- History of Christian Culture in Central and East Europe, anti- fascistic resistance, the situation after the WWII and the development of totality regimes in the countries of Central and East Europe and the analysis of the pictures of national history and history of other nations in school books of history. The Faculty cooperates with French, Polish and Czech universities and institutes in Germany and Hungary. Moreover, these results are also used in carrying out the study programme called “European Cultural studies”. The institute of science and research of our university deals with an international scientific and research project within the 6th frame EU programme- “Sustainable Development in a Diverse World) where your question is being solved in collaboration with 32 partners from 15 countries of West and Central Europe, Turkey, India and Bolivia. The Faculty of Education has been dealing with an improvement of education of the Romany minority in cooperation with Slovenia and Finland. And I could continue naming researches on gender equality, environmental protection or modernization of education of teachers. Another example could be a project (currently being prepared) on research of cultural heritage of the Banská Bystrica region together with the establishment of the mining educational centre. MBU Science and Research institute and the Banská Bystrica self- governing region are working on it together. It deals with the use of mining monuments and precious traditions of Banská Bystrica regions in active tourism and its wider advertising and popularization. We also have other opportunities, for example performances of two university choruses and the University Folklore Group called “Mladosť” in Slovakia and abroad, organization of the international sport event such as karate, gymnastics, basketball or exhibitions of our fine. Artists- teacher and student held all over the world.

Your unique Methodical Centre for Slovaks living abroad in Banská Bystrica conducts a systematic survey of the level of Slovak minority schooling in particular countries and among teachers of Slovak community. What did you find out?
Our Methodical centre is the only of its kind in the field of higher education and cooperates with associations and organizations in six countries. Pure Slovak schools where, apart from the official state language, all the subjects are taught in Slovak language are only in Serbia and Romania. There are schools in Hungary, Ukraine, Croatia and Poland where Slovak language is taught as well as some selected subject taught in Slovak language. In Serbia and Romania, we co- organize regular methodical days of schools teaching in Slovak language every year. These days are always focused on teaching subject chosen according to the interest of our compatriots. The lecturers- our university teachers take part in order to help especially with terminology, modern teaching methods and preparation of teaching materials. Such days are rarely held in Hungary and Ukraine. The main priority of our compatriots to preparation of teachers but also librarians and people working in culture, journalists publishing Slovak periodicals and employees of self - administrations, i.e. professions that support development and identity of the minority. Non - fiction and magazines in Slovak language are on great demand too.

What programmes does it offer to Slovaks living abroad or those who want to learn Slovak language?
It offers accredited short- term courses of Slovak language for our teacher from Slovak minorities abroad according to a school - two - week courses (for pre- schools, for the first grade of elementary schools, for the second grade of elementary schools and for secondary schools), a summer course of Slovak language and culture for compatriots, intensive language courses lasting from 4 to 8 weeks within European projects, for example Socrates/Erasmus, a semester- long course for Slovakists, foreign doctoral students, a long term, i.e. two semester long course for those who want to study at Slovak universities in the SR. Since 2008, we have been organizing schools in the country, a summer school of folk dance and a health camp for children of our compatriots- pupils from elementary schools. The University has earned its reputation among members of Slovak minorities abroad thanks to these activities which are still very attractive.

In 15 years, 32 339 bachelors and masters finished studying at your university, out of them 19000 were external students, i.e. more than a half of students. It is said the internal and external students’ ratio reflects the quality of university. More internal students, higher quality of educational process at university? How do you comment it?
What you have just said might or might not be true. It depends on honest and responsible approach of university. Due to the credit system, our school has the same criteria for both external and internal students. They have to fulfil tasks, works or projects according to the tasks set, the have to acquire the same amount of knowledge from the same literature, write the same tests. External student have just fewer lectures and there are from 30 to 40 of them in a group. As long as the study requires particular training to develop their skills, smaller groups are formed. Based on these conditions there is no difference in quality. I would say it is the other way round, external student use much more experience from real life which is rather helpful. And based on my own experience, a university teacher’s preparation for teaching external student takes more time from the point of view of application of theory in practice. And of course, students give more complicated questions as they already work in the area they study. External studies support professional growth of pedagogues not only in terms of contents but also in teaching methods. Thanks to this form of study, a distant form of study is being developed more intensively, i.e. e-learning.

Why are external students so important for the university?
For many years, our university has belonged to universities with the largest number of external students in Slovakia. We consider them to be our very important clients. Let’s view this fact in historical context. According to international comparisons in 2004 only 11% of citizens had university degree in Slovakia what is very little compared to 30 - 40% in developed countries. It is caused by the fact that we had not had a bachelor degree for 50 years. Majority of graduates abroad are bachelors, only the best of them continue studying for master or engineer degree. We had only limited master study. No wonder that those who could not study and had already started working chose external study. After 1990, the situation in the central Slovak region got much worse compared to traditional university centres in Bratislava and Košice, in some districts there were only 3 % of people with university degree. The university was given a task directly by the government and the Ministry of Education to improve their qualifications, for example start education right in Orava or Gemer. After 2002 when the Law on Public Administration ordered university degree for many professions we prepare student for, the situation when the interest in external study rapidly increased recurred. Over those years we have gathered a lot of experience and earned reputation and we are happy about permanent interest of many people. The European University Association also recommended us during the evaluation I already mentioned above, to maintain external students as a strong part of our institution in the situation when we are able to collect school-fee. Interest of students is the most positive thing that a university can achieve.

Considering what you have just said, how do you evaluate the formation of a knowledge- based society in Slovakia and in surrounding countries? Isn’t just a struggle to survive that fight for development?
It seems as if our country was one of a few that are not aware of the seriousness of this challenge. As it is not measured by how frequently we use these words in speeches and proclamations but by the amount of energy and money invested in education of young generation that will manage this society in a few years time. EUA issued a report on the situation of higher education which it called as alarming because the differences between us and surrounding countries are growing, however, at our expanse. I may mention 15 - year - old - planned reform of elementary and secondary schools, the worst results of the EU in a prestigious international testing of results of education of 15 year - old students PISA or the almost lowest investments in schools and education (in students or salaries for teachers) within OECD. And it is also applicable to universities that suffer from total malnutrition but they are expected to do miracles.
Formation and development of a knowledge based society means a real change of priorities in the society, for example synergic concentration on attempt and funds provided by the state and entrepreneurs for the development of education. Let’s take Korea as a good example- Pohang University of Science and Technology has become one of the best universities in the world in 30 years of its existence because the government and big automotive companies joined their funds to support research, growth specialists and talented students. If research at university should support the development of industry and culture, first its material and personnel basis must be supported. What is a profit of a big company that decides to invest huge amount of money in a project or equipment of laboratories at the university? Such investments are not even tax deducible. Thus they rather build their own. And then all people criticize that graduates are not well- prepared in terms of the training, considering the current development.
Our solution is very specific. Nowadays, we are doing our best to catch interest of students in technical and natural sciences and thus financing of technical faculties is preferred in various ways. However, the preparation of teacher should be placed first, a profession of a teacher and their transformation should assure that very young children got closer to science and technologies and thus reach their positive lifelong approach to them and develop their creation skills.

A new ranking of universities and colleges has started in Slovakia. What do you think it does not solve and what does it make more complicated? Do you agree that it is in accordance with European practice?
Although it is slightly different in each country, by and large we can say that there are three kinds of universities and colleges in the world where all three degrees can be achieved. The schools of the first type are focused on research and mainly on basic or applied research and have a lot of doctoral students. The second type is more orientated on education and has fewer doctoral students and less research, they concentrate on bachelor and master studies. The third type focuses on the cooperation with practice and entrepreneurial sphere, the pay attention to applied research and carries out mainly bachelor and master studies. However, “changeability” is essential. i.e. so that one type of universities could turn into a different one later. The same recommendation was stated by EUA. According to our previous laws all public and state universities or schools of higher education are but private ones are not. It cannot be seen anywhere in the world and non-sense. The term “universitas” means a unit, a unit of full of diversions, connections and relations. In other words a school of higher education that develops and provides various study programs. Schools dealing with one area are definitely not called universities, i.e. veterinary or particular art and hardly anywhere schools of technical orientation. In my opinion, after passing a new law, the situation got complicated for us. According to this law, after the complete accreditation there will be only two types of schools of higher education in Slovakia - universities focused on research providing all three degrees of study and specialized schools providing only bachelor study and applied research. The Ministry of Education can submit the government only these structure. The law also allows existence of non classified school that can carry out bachelor and master studies and basic research. It is not clear, however, how long such a school can exist until it is classified. Based on the facts I mentioned above, a specialized school that can offer only bachelor study has no chance to develop and reach higher ranking, professor and also students will not be interested in it very much and it is sentenced to stagnation.

Will the Slovak universities get closer to those that are the best in Europe?
At present, the first criteria of the Ministry of Education were published to classify universities. At first sight they might seem to be heading towards the top universities, however, quantity very often replaces quality. On of the criteria is the result of the process of complex accreditation that has to evaluate and judge the quality of research and study programmes at university. Evaluation of quality requires submitting of the same number of outputs from each field of research carried out; regardless they were produced by 10 or 500 university teachers. And there is a big difference whether 50 outputs of international quality should by submitted by the whole Economic or Veterinary University that will accredit in only one field of research or the only department of a regular university ad this one must be accredited for example in twenty areas of research. These criteria are easy to meet for schools that deal with one field of science and literally, they are not universities as such. Apart from that, there are other five criteria to be met. i.e. required amount of money gained for scientific projects per creative person, the maximum number of students per professor, reader and PhD teacher, required number of doctoral students for professors and readers. These criteria are rather tough for social sciences and humanities as they do not take more than ten years of practice and differences of distribution of funds to science and doctoral students between technical schools and humanities into consideration as technical schools and schools of natural sciences received ten times more than the others. All schools must reach the same data. And thus these criteria help technical schools that are named technological institutes in the world, schools of not very high interests from the side of students.
Demanding criteria will move us forward only if they are objective and fair for all. It is obvious that we will be put pressure on in order to reach higher performance. Nevertheless, the question remains the same- whether support schools focusing on one field, only technical schools or schools with fewer students is really what we mean when saying “university”.

Who is Prof. PhDr. Beata Kosová, CSc.?
She was born in Banská Bystrica on 19 October 1957. She graduated from the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University in Bratislava, specialization: pedagogy. In 1995?-?1999, she was the head of the Department of Elementary and Pre - School Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education at Matej Bel University, between 1999 and 2002 she was a subdean for pedagogical activities and in 2002 - 2006, she became a dean of the Faculty of Education. She gives lectures on general pedagogy, philosophy of education, comparative pedagogy, and theory of development of personality in master and doctoral studies.

Rákóczi’s castle is waiting for its strong investor
It requires 100 million crowns in order to build a hotel, café, a restaurant and a museum. There is a well with thermal water nearby that is currently being used for heating the local school. However, the construction of a thermal spa is still a future vision.
This almost 430- year old Renaissance chateau is the pride of the Slovak Hungarian municipality of Borsa situated near the river Bodrog and the border crossing of Slovenské Nové Mesto- Sátoraljaújhely in the Tokay Area. The original water castle that was surrounded by a water ditch was replace by the Chateau constructed in 1579 by the members of the Rákóczi family, one of the oldest and most influential nobles in Medieval Hungarian Kingdom and mainly in Transylvania. As the allies of Turks and the Ottoman Empire, he led an anti- Hapsburg’s Uprising, fought for the freedom of religions, absolutism and the renewal of the sovereignty of the north and west parts of the Hungarian Kingdom (including Slovakia) that was given to the Habsburgs after the Battle of Mohács (1526) and the consequent fall of the Hungarian Kingdom.

Francis II. Rákóczi, Prince of Transylvania and the leader of the biggest anti- Habsburg Uprising in the years 1703- 1711, was born and grew up there. Most of the Hungarian nobility did not support Rákóczi’s Uprising so his s uprising army consisting of “Kuruc” (peasants) with flags onto which the motto: “Cum Deo Pro Patria et Libertate (With God for the Country and Freedom). Slovaks, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Romanians and Poles were fighting against the Austrian army. Allegedly, Juraj Jánošík from Terchová as well…

Endless reconstruction has been lasting since 1985
After the Vienna Arbitration, Zemplín County established the museum of Ferenc Rákóczi II in the chateau that had been owned by a few aristocratic families after the formation of the Czechoslovakia. The museum was formed thanks to contributions of private donators as well as al the regions of the warring Hungary. When the chateau got back to the ownership of Czechoslovakia, it was used as a military building (for the Czechoslovak army) and the headquarters managing the construction of the track “Družba”, later it was a school and since 1985 as a depositary warehouse of the East Slovak Museum.
After signing the intra- governmental Czechoslovak- Hungarian Agreement in 1985, a long- term reconstruction started and however, it has been lasting for unbelievable 23 years (including the breaks). ”In 1993, we managed to rescues the chateau from destruction and the chateau became the property of Borsa. After the Velvet Revolution, precious and historical artefacts were stolen in only two years,“ says István Kázmér, a CEO of the Francis II Rákóczi Society that together with the village administration is trying to complete the large reconstruction of a ruined chateau.
Having been supported by the European Union, the Slovak and Hungarian Republics, they managed to reconstruct a few room on the ground floor, build modern lavatory (for 1 million Euro) and in 2006, a memorial room where the price had been born was renewed.
“According to the plans and projects to be financed from the funds of the European Union, we want to establish a museum, to build a conference hall, a library, an Internet café, a hotel and a restaurant. We need a strong investor and 100 million crowns. However, we have not found any finances yet,“ Mr Kázmér continues.

The port and the spa waiting for the investor
It is necessary to complete the reconstruction of the chateau where Tokay Festival is held in June every year if the village and its surroundings want to develop tourism and trade with Tokay wine. Apart from the chateau, the use of thermal water for the construction of the thermal spa is planned too. However, it has been discussed for almost 15 years. And the result is - no project for the construction of the port by the river Bodrog. This village with only 1200 inhabitants has no funds for such kind of a construction. But it includes the area of the European importance “Wood near Borsod” (Natura 2000) that protects south willow - abele and alder woods with the most precious species like Lucanus Cervus, Union Crassus and Bombina Variegata. And there are two other areas of the European importance - „ Kováčske lúky and Tarbucka“.

Cycling route
In the season lasting from March to October, the chateau is visited by many Hungarian tourists who considered the Rákóczi’s family a symbol of their fight for the national freedom. Slovaks show rather weak interest and refuse this part of history as their pride in common Slovak- Hungarian history or the history of the Hungarian Kingdom was eliminated my our the educational system. Tourists from the Košice City Tourist Club and The Tourist Association of Borsod - Abov - Zemplin Counties from Miskolc are trying to get rid of this handicap. They made up 303 kilometres- long cycling route- the pilgrimage to important places in the life of Rákóczi family and other cultural, natural and historical sights of Lower Zemplín on both sides of the border. The cycling route start in the town of Ónod (in the south - eat of Miskolc) where on Rákóczi’s recommendation, the deposition of the House of Habsburg from the Hungarian throne was declared on June 13, 1707. Francis II Rákóczi became the ruler of his country including Slovakia. Then it leads to Sárospatak where used to be Rákóczi’s family residence and one of the places where John Amos Comenius lived.

The Rákóczi’s Uprising
He was one of the richest landlords in the Kingdom of Hungary and was the count (comes perpetuus) of the Comitatus Sarossiensis (in Hungarian Sáros) from 1694 on. He was the third of three children born to Francis I Rákóczi, elected ruling prince of Transylvania, and Ilona Zrínyi, who was the daughter of Péter Zrínyi, Ban of Croatia, and niece of the poet Miklós Zrínyi. His grandfather and great - grandfather, both called George, were Princes of Transylvania.
He was born on 27 March 1676 in Borsod. He had a brother, George, who died as a baby before Francis was born, and a sister, Julianna, who was four years older than Francis. His father died when Francis II was four months old. Ilona Zrínyi’s second husband, Imre Thököly took little interest in Rákóczi’s education, as he was by then heavily involved in politics. However, the failure of the Turks to capture the Habsburg capital in the Battle of Vienna in 1683 frustrated Thököly’s plans to become King of Upper Hungary. When the Turks began to grow suspicious of his intentions, Thököly proposed sending the young Rákóczi to Constantinople as a guarantee of his goodwill. But Rákóczi’s mother opposed this plan, not wishing to be separated from her son. In 1686 Antonio Caraffa besieged their residence, the castle of Munkács. Ilona Zrínyi successfully led the defence of the castle for three years, but capitulated on 14 January 1689. The two Rákóczi children fell again under the guardianship of Leopold I, and moved to Vienna with their mother. They regained their possessions, but could not leave the city without the Emperor’s permission. In the years 1688 - 1692, Esztergom Archbishop L. Kolonič was his tutor and F. Rákóczi was educated by Jesuits in Prague and Jindřichův Hradec where he was given an excellent education at that times. After completing his studies in 1694, he returned to Slovakia and was named the Head of Šariš County. He married a German Princess Amelia, daughter of the Duke of Hessen-Rheinfelds and they settled in Veľký Šariš near Prešov. He ran his county in Sárospatak. However, the merciless policy of Leopold I revived “Kuruci” movement throughout the country. However, Rákóczi wanted to avoid it and he returned to Vienna where he was visited by an initiator of the uprising asking him to join them. In 1700, he tried to get the support of the French King Luis XIV. Nevertheless, his French trustee betrayed him (he gave the letter to Leopold), in 1701, he was captured and imprisoned in Vienna New Town; however, he managed to escape to Poland. He was staying at his relatives at the castle of Brezan and in 1702; he began organizing mercenary soldiers to fight Habsburgs. In 1703, armed men from the river Tisza visited him and offered him to command peasant uprising. Soon majority of nobility in Transylvania and Hungarian nobles joined his local uprising grew into an open fight against Habsburgs. The base of “Kuruci” army was Thököly´s soldiers. Rákóczi attempted to organize a modern army. In 1703, his army seized mining towns and West Slovakia (apart from Bratislava County). In 1704 he controlled the whole area of present Slovakia. Košice was his bastion. He carried out very intensive diplomatic activities at European courtyards where he was trying to get support, on the other hand, he was trying to reach a peace agreement with Habsburgs but he was not successful, he led more war expeditions and fought many battles. In 1704, during the meeting in Alba Iulia he was elected a Prince of Transylvania and in 1705, a meeting of the Hungarian Diet (consisting of 6 bishops, 36 aristocrats and about 1000 representatives of the lower nobility of 25 counties), held near Szécsény (Nógrád county) in September 1705, elected Rákóczi to be the “fejedelem”- (ruling) prince - of the Confederated Estates of the Kingdom of Hungary, to be assisted by a 24 - member Senate. Rákóczi and the Senate were assigned joint responsibility for the conduct of foreign affairs, including peace talks. In 1707, on Rákóczi’s recommendation, another meeting of the Diet held at Ónod (Borsod County,) declared the deposition of the House of Habsburg from the Hungarian throne. Rákóczi’s power culminated. A year late, all villains in Sárospatak were given personal freedom, however, it as too late. “Kuruci” were forced to leave the upper side of the Tisza. Rákóczi did not manage to receive the support of European monarchs and convince them to enter the war. They provided him only material and military support. Only Russian Tsar Peter the Great signed a confidential Warsaw Agreement with him in 1707. He offered him Polish throne. After unexpected defeat at the Battle of Trenčín on August 3, 1708, was fatal one and the uprising lost its power and was becoming weaker and weaker. In 1711, he tried to regain military help from Russia. During Rákóczi’s absence, Alexander Károlyi was named Commander - in - Chief of the Hungarian forces, and quickly negotiated a peace agreement with János Pálffy in Szatmár that ended up the greatest and the biggest nobility uprising. It was a compromise between Hungarian aristocrats and Habsburgs which guaranteed nobility rights. The Peace of Szatmár did not treat Rákóczi particularly badly. He was assured clemency if he took an oath of allegiance to the Emperor, as well as freedom to move to Poland if he wanted to leave the Kingdom of Hungary. He did not accept these conditions, doubting the honesty of the Habsburg court, and he did not even recognize the legality of the Peace Treaty, as it had been signed after the death of the Emperor Joseph I on April 17, 1711, which terminated the plenipotential authority of János Pálffy. From 1713 he stayed in Versailles and in the monastery of Gros Bois. His hope for creating an independent Transylvania during the War of the Spanish Succession did not come true. In 1717he went to Turkey in hope that Turkish - Austrian war would help him but his desire to head up a separate Christian army to help in the fight against the Habsburgs was not under serious consideration. The Ottoman Empire signed the Peace Treaty of Passarowitz with Austria on July 21, 1718. Among its provisions was the refusal of the Turks to extradite the exiled Hungarians. Two years later, the Austrian envoy requested that the exiles be turned over, but the Sultan refused as a matter of honour. Rákóczi and his entourage were captured in the town of Tekirdag (Rodostó in Hungarian) where he died on Good Friday, 8 April 1735.
He was buried next to his mother in Saint-Benoît (then Jesuit) French Church in Constantinople. Rákóczi´s remains (plus his closest relatives and co - emigrants) were moved on October 29, 1906 to Slovakia, to St. Elisabeth Cathedral in Košice, where in a special crypt, he is buried with his wife Kristína Csáki, General Earl Anton Esterházy, and his son Joseph and his court yard master Mikulas Šibrik. As he wished, Prince’s heart was buried in the church of Kamaldul Monastery in Grobois in France.

Cyprus attracts young Slovak families

Much better earnings, child benefits. Young people in Slovakia lack motivation and money to provide them better living. Although they leave, they return after a few years as “home sweet home” is the only one. Is it their schizophrenia or speculation? What does it mean to live respectable life these days?

There is something wrong. A young Slovak mother looks worried as her six- month old child has a high temperature. Her family is far away, her husband is at work. The paediatrician’s telephone number, she got the other day, might help at last. Actually, it does not. The doctor does not speak English. How is it possible? We are in the European Union and English is a communication language. No help around, no experienced “advisor” such as her own mum, grandma or cousin being surrounded by foreigner who do not trust immigrants.

Imagine that you and your family will occur in a strange surrounding, in the world so unknown and different from what you are used to. Suddenly, you depend on each other and what is even worse you carry a burden of responsibility not only for yourself but also for your wife and daughter. Unfortunately, it is our Slovak reality, reality of young Slovak families. Not only student travel abroad to earn more money. More and more young families are taking the plunge too.

Life easier than in Slovakia?
Like Jaroslav with his wife and a two- year- old daughter. He had two jobs in Slovakia. He longed for a family but with his salary of 12,000 Slovak crowns he could do nothing but dream about it. Katka´s husband Slavomír graduated from the Faculty of Education. He started abroad as a professional handball player, now he is bringing up his 7-month –old daughter together with his wife. He works in a company dealing with transport of potable water. He earns much more than teachers in Slovakia. What do these two families have in common? Their decision and courage to have better living and the island of Cyprus. A small island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Long time ago, it was an unknown island, and at present, it is the member of the European Union and more and more Slovaks travel there to get seasonal jobs. Katarína and her husband Slavomír´s plans were similar; however, when she fell pregnant they faced a very important decision. To stay abroad or to come home? They decided to stay. The second married couple did not think for long. Jaroslav says: “Money makes the world go round. You work hard in Cyprus too but you are rewarded much better. I used to work hard in Slovakia as well. But her we can afford our own car, hire a beautiful flat and provide our daughter standard living so that she did not miss anything. In Slovakia we earned 20,000 together, her we earn almost 60,000. Well, mind you, the prices are not so different from Slovak ones.”
His wife Katarína adds: “When I fell pregnant, we faced a big dilemma- to stay or not. We both returned to Slovakia. However, we got back to Cyprus and we have not regretted it since then. Life is much easier here. At home the prices were as high as here but our salaries are much higher than in Slovakia. We can afford much more to buy for our daughter and us; we are even able to save some money.”

Maternity leave for 16 weeks only
Both families set off a very difficult journey. It is not easy to bring up a child abroad. There is not enough money for a nanny or babysitter; grandparents are far away to help them. Nevertheless, these to families live their well - organized lives. Life taught them to manage complicated situation. While one of them is at work, another one looks after the child. Both parents participate in bringing up their child equally. However, they find it very difficult to find even a little time for them.
“What surprised be much was the fact that maternity leave lasts only for 16 weeks after baby delivery. But on the other hand, it was easy to sort out child benefit which is pretty good because you get a regular salary as if you were at work,“ Katarína continues. “My wife has been on maternity leave just for three months. I do not say I prove it if the state does not have enough funds to pay mothers to stay at home longer but it is also a particular way of solving the problem,” Jaroslav explains.

Comparison of child benefits
A benefit for delivering a child is about 17,000 crown in Cyprus. In Slovakia it is 11,000 crown. Just to compare, in the Czech Republic, it is 17,500 Czech crowns. Regarding child benefits, Cyprus pays parents 430 Euro per child, in Slovakia it is 540 SK a month which approximately half less.
If we ignore financial point of view, the island of Cyprus is the one of the safest countries. You do not have to lock you car in the street. If you are robbed, you may bet it was a foreigner and not a citizen of Cyprus. This country is suitable for families with children. “I like the weather in Cyprus, you can really enjoy yourself and it is really beneficial to your child to stay by the sea. It is a very healthy place,“ Katarína thinks. “A long time ago, one knew about Cyprus. And now? They are doing really well. They started improving themselves; they build, invest and know that services are the highest priority so they work on them. And we are not aware of it yet. It is time we woke up and began developing Slovakia. It is a beautiful country and it worth trying it. Unfortunately, people are not motivated enough and they leave “ Jaroslav claims.

Aircraft repair shop overcame the worst crisis

They developed modernizing know- how for Russian and Ukrainian military radars those are compatible with the radars of NATO after implementation of new digital data technologies. They also began civic production of IVECO chassis.

LOBB Banská Bystrica, a.s. a state stock-joined company, will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of its establishment, after a few years of stagnation and decline, the company is recovering from the worst crisis ever. This year, it will reach a positive economic result for the first time. A new management of the enterprise carried out radical changes and restructuralization and denied so typical Slovak cliché - the worst owner and entrepreneur is the state.


Medieval Heritage of Bulgaria

The Zemplín Museum in Michalovce in cooperation with Bulgarian culture institute in Bratislava offers its visitors an opportunity to know and admire the part of a huge and rich cultural and historical heritage of Bulgaria. Exhibitions of big photographs were prepared by well- known Bulgarian cultural institutions and authors within the communicational strategy of the celebrations of the integration of Bulgarian in the European Union and presented in a few European cities.

The photographs were created by an artistic photographer Ivo Chadžimišev who represented Bulgaria at many world exhibitions- Bulgaria, the Country of Old Civilizations, was the first collection exhibited and opened to visitors in autumn months last year during the Days of European Cultural Heritage. He presented only a small part of sights and monuments from the significant part of Bulgarian history - the Thracian Age. The exhibited photographs depict a few archaeological excavations proving the existence of the pre-historical “Karanovo Culture” and a rich grave with a skeleton and various golden objects - (the oldest in Europe) from the excavations in Varna that are dating back to the Copper Age. The photographs capture stone tombs from Kazanlak, Alexandriva and Sveštari as well as treasures comprises of gold and silver objects from the excavations in Panagjurište, Letnica, Lukocit and Rogozen. Although they were made centuries ago, these masterpieces are still so beautiful because of their original shapes and high level of plastic and relief decorations.

The present exhibition called “Medieval Heritage of Bulgaria” offers a lot of precious sights and monuments from the history of Medieval Bulgaria. Exhibited photographs depict unique proofs from the fields of Bulgarian literary history, sacral art and architecture. Many cultural sights are registered in the list of the world cultural and natural heritage of UNESCO - along with the oldest sights (Thracian tombs in Kazanlak, and in Sveštar, Hungarian Rider), there are also “Bojana Church” with very precious frescos, the biggest and most preserved Bulgarian monastery “Rila Monastir” or the architectural reserve Starý Nesebar. Thanks to fascinating collections of painting, and old written documents, other monasteries like Bačkovský, Roženský and Trojanky Monastir (i.e. monasteries) belong to national treasures as well as many churches. Many of them are the golden parts of Bulgarian history.
 

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