December 2008Was Milan Rastislav Štefánik supporter of the monarchy?
Prof. Dr. Milan Stanislav Ďurica, SDB
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Was Milan Rastislav Štefánik supporter of the monarchy?
It is the question that might seem to be ridiculous when you hear it for the first time. And mainly if we are aware of the fact that we miss the explanation of the death of one of the most important founders of the Czecho-Slovak citizenship, whom Masaryk´s regime wanted to worship as a representative of czechoslovakism and the co- establisher of the Czecho- Slovak Republic. One of the writers who have written his biography has already come up with this question. Like with many other controversial historical personalities, in this case, some admitted this question but the others strictly denied it. Well, it will not be out of the context to give the profound answer to this question based on plenty of books and documents.
If there was anyone who knew Milan R. Štefánik well was his commander- French General Maurice Janin. He cooperated with Štefánik during his last career in military services. His memories dating back to 26 August 1916 mention that he was a kind of surprised when Štefánik had told him just before he left to Kiev:” What a lovely day it is going to be when we a Czech king is crowned. ” And he added that he would surely invite General Janin as well. When Janin wanted to publish it in his interview for the magazine of “ Hanacky pluk” (Troop) in Siberia, T.G. Masaryk took an action and achieved that this sentence had to be deleted from the article as they did not want to get legions operating in Siberia confused by Štefánik´s tendencies to support monarchy.“
On 2 September 1916, Štefánik mentioned the matter of offering the Czech throne to a Russian prince during the highly diplomatic dialogue with the Russian General Alekseev. And on his way home, General Janin witnessed another Štefánik´s demonstration of his happiness and joy that such a coronation would take place in Prague, and that it was becoming more and more probable.
In January 1917, Štefánik spoke to Janin about the future Czech king again and he counted with the candidacy of a French prince from Orleans, or Mikhail Alexandrevic of Romano Dynasty. During the same stay in Russia, having another conversation with Janin, he mentioned that the Italian Queen-Mother was attempting to gain the Czech throne for her son, Italian Prince and that Marquise Carlotti is trying to reach an agreement with Russia. Some sources reveal that Štefánik mentioned something similar in November 1915 when the Italian Queen- Mother visited him in hospital in Rome where he was lying injured after his plane had crashed.
Štefánik really liked talking about this matter as he mentioned it in many others of his conversations with Russian generals. Janin had a feeling that the issue of monarchy was the reason for deep conflicts between Štefánik on the one side and Beneš and Masaryk on the other side. They were not willing to accept other form of the state than the republic. Furthermore, during their common journey to Siberia via the United States of America, which Štefánik and Janin joined on 28 August 1918, Štefánik often complained about Beneš and his features of a dictator and also about Masaryk who had been surrounded by “some people” he did not want to mention. The final breakpoint in his relationship to Masaryk and Beneš was when just before landing in Japan; Janin showed him Japanese newspaper published on 25 October 1918. There was the Declaration of the Independence of the Czechoslovak Nation from 14 October 1918 published there. The declaration was signed by Masaryk, Beneš and Štefánik, who, however, seemed to know nothing about it (He was given a message about it on 26 October 1918). Thus declaration contained a list of resolutions that Štefánik could not agree with and he was bitterly disappointed. He prepared a long telegram as a kind of protest and he immediately sent it to Masaryk through the French Ambassador in Tokyo. At the time, Štefánik found out that both his Czech partners did not take his personal statements and requirements into consideration while establishing a new Czechoslovak state and presented their view of a new state in the public. He did not agree with this conception and was firmly against it. One of the essential differences was that the declaration of the independence ignored the unique position of Slovakia in a newly created state which Štefánik kept in mind during his military and diplomatic activities and that he could not always declare in public due to the international political situation.
Prof. Dr. Milan Stanislav Ďurica, SDB
Slovak historian, publisher, university professor and the holder of the Order of the High Commander of Merit of the Italian Republic.
European must understand Christianity
“We have been experiencing a financial crisis now as the difference appeared, i.e. difference between everyday reality and what is supposed to come out of the human inner world, mainly responsibility- I will not lie, I will not do things against mankind because I believe in God. Faith in God and civic and human rights should be joined into one category,“ claims Professor Tadeusz Zasępa, the Rector of the Catholic University in Ružomberok.
He is the fourth rector of the Catholic University in Ružomberok that was established in 2000. Ružomberok Pedagogical Institute of St Andrew of the Trnava University in Trnava, later the Catechetic and Pedagogical Faculty of University of Žilina in Žilina were the predecessors of the university. At present, 10,500 students, 6,500 daily and 4,000 external students study at four faculties- Pedagogical, Philosophical, Theological and the Faculty of Health Care.
Mr Professor, you dealt with Polish emigration and mainly with the present forms of spreading Christian faith at the Catholic University in Lublin. Which of them do you consider most understandable for people, the most effective and which of them support Christians so that they were not ashamed of their faith and live it actively every day?
People think and it is also proved by the Holy Bible that it is necessary to ask God the questions. Even Peter asked where Jesus lives or where God lives. Jesus invited him and told him: “Come and you will see.” And Peter saw that Jesus lives nowhere. He understood what is so important- the relationship of a man to God and the relationship of a man to another man. God talks to everyone even to a man who does not want to talk to him or never talks to him. God considers such people important as well. He gives them chance to change his life. It always emphasises it. We have to know theology, we have to ask him questions but it cannot be simply done via science. The way of life is important, it is the thing all the Christians should focus on in order to be helpful and give the legacy about their lives. The world does not criticize us because we ask wrong questions but we are judges because they do not see the legacy or enough legacies. John Paul II had always emphasised that it was not life; an artists, composer or writer also gives his legacy. When the culture becomes a type of the legacy that also a picture, music, a book or some verses get closer to people and encourage them.
Zbigniew Herbert, the candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature, managed to get legacy of his faith involved in his poetry. He used a person of Mr Cogito (Thinking man) who began admiring the world. So he admired the world and he was so impressed that he decided to write a letter to Our Lord. And he asks whether it is true that God had created this world using love, whether it is true that love created the man and whether it is true that he and his love will forgive our sins. He finished writing this letter and sent it via first class. And God answered his, and sent His letter via first class as well. He writes: “Admire yourself, Mr Cogito, and it might help you. And when you come and know on my heaven door with your weak wings, He will open the door and say that He loves you.”
Mr Cogito could not believe it because he lived in a real world. God sends his a telegram, well, at present it would surely be an email.” Ah, Mr Cogito thinks and understands.
In present world there is a lot of evil and violence but also a lot of good and beauty. I admire beauty of Slovakia. God gave Slovakia so much beauty. I admire Slovak people who live in this beautiful environment. Admiration of love, of God deeds, of goodness rooted in a man and his culture, it is one of the most spread forms of Christian faith.
Do you think that lessons of religion and prayers memorizing or Sunday sermons are enough to spread the Christian faith?
Holy Mass, prayers and religious services- these are still necessary forms of demonstration of Christian faith the Church has reached throughout its history. However, there are some paths nobody has ever stepped onto. I mean, our personal paths, our personal relationship to God. And this is what really depends on us; we have to look after it alone. It is our responsibility for faith, it is not a given value, and it must be developed. Stable forms of faith are a kind of help from the Church, but we have to do the rest ourselves.
Atheists often ask whether there is evidence of God’s existence. They think if he was real, he would not let many bad things that a man is able to do a man happen. How do you encourage them to believe?
Atheists might often think that God has forgotten them and that He does not need them. It is not true. God has prepared the future to everyone. Every single person is a stone in God’s masterpiece. And God forms atheists as well. Even a person who does not believe in God can be kind-hearted. God gives him power to overcome various obstacles although this person is not aware of it. God helps him so that one was ready to meet Him in eternity. We have to perceive all the people equally, evaluate and love them, show them that God has the direction for everyone. Religion is not supposed to find new “souls” at any expense, but what is more important- to let love lead people to religion.
Christianity is almost 2000 years old. If you could specify its current position in Europe within the competition with other religions and civil philosophies, what would you say?
Europe, get back to your roots. We have been forgetting our Christian roots, we think that other religions and social activities are more important to out lives. Europe is based on Christianity. And if Christianity disappears, there will be no Europe any more. Do not forget that Christianity has always been the inspiration for the world of arts, literature and music.
Do you think that present Europe, mainly its west part, is able to maintain its Christian form, values and Christian culture? Or is its centre being slowly moved to Central Europe, Russia and Balkan?
I think that the centre of Christianity has already moved to Central Europe- mainly to Poland, Belarus, Slovakia, Ukraine and Russia. It is good that Protestantism is being activities in West Europe, that many Protestants still follow their faith and lives in faith. West Europe still has a power and is still able to hold mass youth meetings known as Taizé and other religious movements. Thus inner regeneration of the church and Christianity are supported and many parishes are rather active.
Yes, it is true but actually, Christian churches in West Europe complain about the decrease of religious people, about empty churches, Catholic priests even talk about a very small number of holy confessions and communions. Why aren’t we witnessing the reverse trends?
The most typical feature of our era and present man, and a Christian as well, is individualism. The theory that a man is as an individual responsible for his/her life and that he/she does not need God and Christianity and a Christian does not need society to create his/ her relationship with God and that it is enough to pray himself/ herself, all these aspects influence a man like a sociable individual. Christians are taught to pray together, to help one another. As Jesus Christ said:” where two or three gather together on behalf of my name, I am there with them.” Jesus is in society and not alone.
However, we need to speak a new language in this modern era. When we talk about the holy mass, we believe it is the centre of our life as Christians. Even if we did nothing but taking part in a holy mass at least once a week, we would done so much to this world.
Not only atheists but also Christian have problem to understand the sense of the holy mass. What should they realize during it?
Gifts we bring to the altar, i.e. bread and wine, symbols of our entire life. Bread is a symbol of love, we share it. It is an outstanding symbol of unity. Well, you need grains planted for its production. They all are united in making bread again and so are Christians with God during the holy mass and priests in their priesthood.
On the other hand, wine is a symbol of human suffering because it is produced by pressing grapes. Pressing grapes symbolizes human suffering, man’s struggle with difficulties, illnesses, poverty, unemployment and emigration. Wine also symbolizes joy and happiness that good, truth and love win, the joy that someone has found a new job or someone healed. We can always talk about suffering.
Do not forget that bread is also a symbol of work performed by people, a symbol that we are supposed to bring to the altar, to God, and that we need God’s help. Six months ago, no one had thought of a global financial crisis, people had thought that if they had forgotten love, Ten Commandments and they will do only audits and show how entrepreneurship beautiful is and that everything will be all right. Nevertheless, it was a big lie; the fundamental basis missed and happened what happened. And now, we hear ministers, presidents talking about a mistake made in Wall Street. However, it is another lie because the crisis was caused by other lies, injustice, cheating and many speculations where the justice got lost.
What to Europeans miss in order not to be afraid of Christianity, to protect and develop it?
We are discussing the issue of liberalism and individualism. There are two ways of live that do not help Christian religion. If a man wants to be modern and says to himself that he does not need religion and does not show a legacy of his life.
Are Christian politicians not able to “fight” for their own Europe? What is the responsibility of Christian Churches for this state?
Pope Paul VI already spoke about two things. About politics as such, where you have to get involved and look after people’s lives, finances, economy, solves wars and conflicts. The second thing is particular politicians and responsibility in politics. If you are a Christian, you must be responsible in a Christian way. If one calls his political party a Christian one, it does not mean that he is a responsible Christian politician. In politics, Christian politicians have to be responsible for a family, a man, work, and wage, relax, accommodation so that a man did not end up living in the street. It means that if this responsibility is lacked by not only a politician but also a particular Christian political party, it will not work.
Europeans have to understand what the Christianity is. It is not only a prayer or putting your hands together, but mainly Christian responsibility we must be aware of. And then spread it to other people and societies. Christianity is faith happening inside each person, it is s close personal relationship with God whose initiative was to come and stay among people through Jesus Christ. And it is the practical side that must come- responsibility, sincerity and openness. It is exactly what are Christian politicians expected to do.
Can human and civil rights exist without belief in God? Are they two categories that cannot be joining together- as many atheists and liberals say?
Yes, they can exist and also exist. However, it requires a deep relationship between them. It is better when a man has his relationship with God, when civil and human rights are of a deeper and wider dimension and they last not only for an hour or a while. I am trying to direct my whole life towards eternity. I do not want everything to end in a few years of my life but it wants it to have an eternal dimension so that both God and people liked it.
At the moment we are experiencing a financial crisis because there is a difference between everyday reality and what is really inside a man, mainly responsibility- I will not lie, I will not do harm to mankind because I believe in God. Belief in God and human right should be joined in one category. Christian responsibility, however, requires unity of faith and everyday life. If it does not work, how will it be formed? We do not have an opportunity of transplantation in the area.
You are founder and the first rector of Lublin University of King Ladislav Jagielon that educates future managers focusing on the principles of social studies of the Catholic Church. However, we are living in the era of ruling of globalization, free market and philosophy of two main economic criteria- investment versus profit or loss. It is doubtful whether so many entrepreneurs and owners of the firms are able to pursue the principles of social studies of the Catholic church into everyday life as the European and also Slovak economy depend on international companies, banks and big investors and their entrepreneurial philosophy and ethics majority of which is not Christian. Well, On the other hand, we are not talking about endless utopia that is impossible to be achieved?
Over the past 25 years, a half of people having been awarded the Nobel Price for the work of a man for a man. Mainly, they were works that dealt with poverty, peace, unemployment. These 25 years were the years of pontificate of John Paul II who used to write and teach a lot what a service to a man are. It is not theory but everyday practice so that everyone felt safe in the world.
This knowledge had inspired me much and I prepared lectures in the field of renaissance of ethics in entrepreneurship ň. When I realized that fact, it seemed necessary to open that kind of school, dealing with the issues mentioned above. The fact is that all the people, entrepreneurs as well as people working in banks were aware that a particular individual is an addressee of their activities. I will gat back to the financial crisis. I broke out because we forgot who addresses of financial institutions are. Their managers thought that they are alone and they had to have everything the best- always the best car, the best plane, the best holiday destination. And they forgot about a particular individual thanks to whom they could have all those things. It is necessary to get back to it, there is no other solution. And what is said that it is so necessary to do, i.e. to finance enterprises, banks is a big mistake which ordinary people will pay. However, may change in thinking of managers of financial institutions be the fruit of state or governmental help- these institutions must realize that a man is the highest priority.
Every Christian lives in two worlds- a real one, mainly a world of work and in spiritual one. It is very complicated to connect these two worlds and there are situations in which it is impossible to sit on two chairs. What would you advise to Christians, how should they deal with their entrepreneurial- working and spiritual integrity?
It is only an illusion of “two chairs”. There are no two people; there is always one person, the same man. He has always had his mane. Maybe, an entrepreneur had no choice to act but it does not mean that the future will not be different. We have to create our future at school, at home and at work. Everything has its beginning but it is definitely not the enterprise or in the company. It is necessary to start working with children, youth, encourage them to act wisely and with responsibility, to convince them about values, about Christian philosophy. New generation is being formed in this way. Although it is not exactly what we meant but it has a great importance. Our university specialized on pedagogy that is so closely connected with Christian philosophy.
In 1995, you became the member of professors from the Catholic University in Lublin who, based on Pope John Paul II appeal, began helping Slovakia in professional education of priests and laymen. What initiated it? Was it a lack of educated priests in Slovakia and lower standard of theological education during communism and predominantly after the fall of old regime? Or is it an issue of a hidden resistance of rigid and more conservative Slovak episcopate that was worried about the confrontation with priests who go wider education abroad?
Nothing you have asked me. It was just to help our brothers. We learnt about difficulties Christianity had gone through during communism because we had strong church in Poland. We had Karol Wojtyla and Cardinal Wyszynsky. We arrived in Slovakia to help from professional point of view as the church and dioceses were being renewed very fast.
However, we did not just come to help; I taught in Slovakia a lot. Slovaks are people who were able to protect and maintain their faith, culture and self- confidence. It was something extraordinary; I appreciate it and that it why I love Slovakia so much.
We are observing s kind of scepticism to bring up new Christian philosophers and thinkers in Slovakia, i.e. people who would really “fight” for their conviction and would patiently and lovingly explain thing to practical Christians and atheists. This topic is often obstructed by the thesis that the Church and priest should not get involved in politics and public matters. But opinions presented by Christian intellectuals in media are so rare that the Slovak society hardly ever knows that they exist. And if they speak loudly, they usually talk about the issue of protection of life, i.e. abortions, sexual education and registered partnerships of people of the same sex. How do you comment it?
If I were not a speciality in journalism, I would believe it. Media like using fragmentation to manipulate. Naturally, the church is interested in all aspects concerning a human being, as it is. Who should rescue a child when its own mother does not want it? The church usually speaks when nobody else wants to speak or just cannot speak. There are people who do not want to solve the problems and do not want to talk about them. And then there is the church that has to protect youth, marriage, family- these are the natural values that ensure regular development of a human being and the whole society.
What are the differences between the education of priests and laymen in Poland and Slovakia?
There are no differences. Education of priests and laymen is managed by Vatican that prepares the programme. Perhaps there is the only difference; Poland has had a Catholic university since 1918 and wed even had it during the Second World War. All the Polish Christian Intelligence educated there. Belarus, Jews and Non- Catholics could study there. There was no Catholic university in Slovakia but as soon as Slovakia started breathing using its own lungs, it established it along with taking the first breath. And that is also why I love Slovakia so much.
How do you perceive mutual comparison and a particular admiration of Slovak Catholics of the strong position of the Catholic Church in Poland?
I think the beginning of each nation is in its cradle. Christianity is a cradle for both Poland and Slovakia. Polish King Mieszko I of Piastoska Dynasty formed this religious and political fact in 966. A hundred years later that Slovaks had. Is it not a fact that Slovakia should be proud of? Our history has always been closely connected and interconnected even though Poland did not exist for 123 years. We had a state, kings, our pride and that was our power. Slovakia had not been an independent state for thousand years; it was the part of the Hungarian Kingdom. However, there is one very significant difference; Slovaks did not cause the loss of their independence. In spite of having been subordinated, they did not lose their language, culture, faith, they remained a nation. It is that beauty worth admiring.
Does the Slovak Catholic Church need to fight for its credit? When will the accusation of having been responsible for the Slovak State and persecutions of Jews during the Second World War finish?
The Church does not need to fight but it is obliged to show their legacy. The church is not afraid of suffering because it is not an apprentice above the master. Historical issues will always encourage both positive and negative feelings: We do not even know what had exactly happened we just know that it had happened. The topic of the Slovak State is rather familiar to me due to questions my students ask. I do not answer these questions as it is not my
“business but I give a question instead: Would the present Slovak Republic be able to exist without that war sacrifice, would a point of comparison exist? What would have happened if we had not had that state? I cannot give such an answer. Every nation has particular roots and history. When a nation reaches its goal, it is not always outstanding, perfect or “holy” but we know that it is impossible to achieve.
You have been giving lectures since 1995. How do you perceive Slovak mentality, Slovak spirit? How does it differ from the Polish one, or what have Poles and Slovaks in common? Is it “only Christianity and mainly Catholicism?
We have a lot in common- predominantly hospitality, openness, understanding and tolerance. It is good as it is. And what is a Slovak spirit like? I wrote an essay in regards to the song “Slovenská otčina” (Slovak Country) where, in my opinion, the Slovak spirit is contained. It has three parts. The admiration to the Slovak country, which did not exists for a thousand years, is expressed in the first part. The second part deals with the Heaven and eternity Slovak have also always had. If it had not existed, I d not know what would have happened with the Slovak nation. And the third part says about the programme of waiting for “the country” on earth as well as in heaven: “It is necessary to serve your brother and fight for the truth; it is the motto of young people that must exist. Hypocrisy and fear must be defeated; love and joy must be given away. When this time comes, I want to serve God, dedicate my life to my country.”
Where are chauvinism, nationalism and fascism in these words: Yes, there have always been extremes but we have jurisdiction to solve all these issues. But generally, there is no space for extremism in the contents of what Slovakia really is.
Do Poles declare themselves to St Cyril and Methodius and to their heritage?
Not as strongly as in Slovakia. However, we can say that there has been the Cyril and Methodius Institute established in Sandomierz. These saints also have a place in the Polish history as well. We know that this tradition has its strong position in Greek Catholic and Orthodox Churches. This east tradition is of a great importance as thanks to it they can breathe freely. I am happy that a Greek Catholic Archdiocese was established in Slovakia and that there is a very strong seminar in Prešov. It is the fruit one had already paid for in the past. As Christians they knew that death and extortion were the beginning of a new faith and seed. And it had happened though. Extortion of tragic and the fruit were full of joy, energy and dynamism. And that is also why I have such a close relationship to the Greek Catholic Archdiocese in Prešov, I admire Archbishop Babjak´s wisdom and work. Let me remind you where the Greek Catholic used to be in the 1990s and where it is now.
How do Poles perceive the Orthodox and Byzantium heritage of Slavs?
They cooperate with Orthodox and Greek Catholic brothers. There might be a little problem in terms of the orthodox religion as Poles connect the Orthodox Church with the Russian policy. But I personally think, nowadays, it is not being perceived like this any more.
Do Poles understand Slovaks or they perceive us as the nation without the history, aristocracy, kings, as the nation that separated from Hungarians and Czechs?
No, they do not. It is the other way round, they know the history of the Slovak nation, and they admire Slovaks, their kind-heartiness, openness and self- confidence.
You are the rector of the University in Ružomberok that is said to need new energy and particular reforms to protect it and move forward. Is it true?
I understand that the university has its beginning and its continuation. Is there anything that has to be done? Well, it will be done. I am grateful to all those, professors and rectors, who helped open it. I invite all of them to cooperate so that we developed and improved the level of our university together.
Were you elected to be a rector to improve the quality of the university?
I think that it is the matter of cooperation. I could do hardly anything as an individual. I really enjoy cooperation with deans, pro-rectors and it is of a great importance. They are my closest co- workers; I cannot image how the university would work without them. My door is always open to them.
What is your philosophical vision of the development of the university?
We are attempting to develop a human being as a unique system, his moral, intellectual,
aesthetical and religious levels. Moral level is mainly about responsibility for each even the tiniest step in life, politics and entrepreneurship. We also want to build up aesthetical level. Beauty is a unity, not only a part of something or a sort of music but it is everything what develops a man and his relationship to beauty, it is also very important these days. Paying attention to media that offer just one dimension of aestheticism. Christian religion should penetrate to each of these levels.
You do not hide your opinion that your university will become the best university in Slovakia. What do you want to achieve? How do you want to compete with universities worldwide- by different methodology, science and research, new studying programmes?
We do not want to compete wit anyone we just want to look better in terms of our competitors. Each university wants to do so and so we do. I see our development in the fields in which we can show the best performance. For example, research and presentation of the social studies of the Church, mainly the popes in the 20th century- John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI contributed to its development. We would like to be the beast and I believe we can achieve this goal in the studies of the Church and Media. Since the Department of Journalism was established at the Faculty of Arts in 2002, I have noticed the progress in the field. Until then, Slovakia had lacked journalists believing in God and educated in the field of religious issues. Until then, Slovakia had lacked the place where wisdom of the Church could join practice in the areas so necessary for everyday life- for example in pedagogy, journalism, philosophy, social studies, psychology. At present, I see our first graduates from the Catholic University in Ružomberok and we have to state that the direction we have been heading towards is the right one. I see another chance for further development in the closer cooperation with the Federation of Catholic Universities that joins the best universities. Development of relationships with foreign countries will help us to deepen foreign move ability of students and teachers and in creating studying programmes in foreign languages.
Your priority is to improve the quality of science and education. What needs to be changed?
We have to improve the number of “PhD” pedagogues, doctors and most of all research works in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of the Education of the SR. On the other hand, we have to decrease the number of students to the number of teachers so that there were 20 students for one pedagogue.
You intend to support the development of your university by construction a modern European university library with the newest information technologies that is supposed to become the heart of the university. The archive, museum and gallery will be included. When is this library going to be opened? What kind of gallery and museum is it going to be?
We want to build up the library until 2010. The gallery will offer our fine artists as well as artists that are not from our university a lot space to present their works. And the university museum? It is going to be the legacy of the history of our university, the legacy of our hardworking professors and students that create our university.
You want to establish a foundation for the university development. Why should entrepreneurs and other institutions support your university, what will it guarantee? Who is financing your university more at the moment? Voluntary contributions, state subsidies or the Catholic Church?
The University is a common ownership of all Catholics. The state supports us because Catholics pay taxes, we are grateful for help and support of our state. We really appreciate this help as it is so huge and necessary. People, religious ones and atheists, they all should think how to support university that attempts to preserve Slovaks as they are. Although it is not very trendy in the era of globalization, but the Church is not afraid of globalization. Long time ago, missioners were not afraid of travelling sand follow Columbus. Globalisation regards criminality, culture, politics, and entrepreneurship. And our attempt is to maintain Slovakia as it is in these global streams.
How do you want to make your university be attractive to foreign students? Will you focus on students from other regions of Europe, for example, Balkan?
Our foreign students are mostly students from Poland. The university management has approved the implementation of lectures in English language. Slovakia ought to help south Europe. It is necessary to develop Christianity there. Poland has already fulfilled its task in East Europe. Slovakia must help Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary.
You plan to open two faculties- Faculty of Law and Faculty of Economics until 2012 and later Technical Faculty and Faculty of Natural Sciences as well. How do you want create professional background. Are you going to be an open university and attract pedagogues from abroad?
We have already taken the first steps. We are discussing establishment of the Faculty of Law with our friends in Hungary, Poland and Spain. It will be an international faculty with presence of foreign professors and students. Slovakia and Central Europe really need it.
The Catholic University has four faculties at present. Which of them are the most prestigious and the most important one?
They are all very important. However, the Faculty of Arts is appreciated the most.
The sense of existence of your university can be expressed by a simple definition: it should serve Slovakia, support Christianity, cooperate with institutions in Slovakia and help the Catholic Church in Slovakia (education of priests, teachers, mass media workers and other experts). What are the main criteria for students to study at university?
Our university is a public university with a confessional specialization what means that every graduated from the secondary school cam apply for studying here if e/ she fulfils the conditions and declares that they will respect the Catholic spirit of the university. We are searching and creating unity in various aspects so that young people who do not believe in God or are of a different religion were tolerant to other religions, to the environment where they study and continued developing it. The faculties have their specific conditions and it is very difficult to generalize them. The main part of the admission process are the interviews where we try to analyse in detail motivation of students to come and study at our university, why they have chosen a particular subject of study, personal presuppositions, student’s interests, direction and opinions.
Your university is the member of the European and world federation of Catholic universities. What are the main goals of this federation? How does it help you?
We became the members of this federation in 2007. It provides us new inspirations and new directions, new ways of university developments. Thus rectors can meet and exchange their experience. It is help of a great importance. If our university occurred in danger due to political situation or other reasons, the federation would help us at the international level.
You have been giving lectures at the Department of Journalism since 2001. What do you think where has Slovak journalism ended up? Why are all masters of writing and genres, independent commentators- specialists disappearing? Why is the number of so- called freelance journalists increasing sharply? How is it possible to eliminate “tabloiding” and degeneration of journalism as a profession and occupation?
The Catholic Church is about responsibility of journalists, readers and audience. Journalists have to be professionals so that they studied facts in detail rather than ignoring them. Readers and viewers are supposed to be critical towards everything. It is the task the church supports. I think that when it is said that people need and want tabloids, violence, it is nit true.
Slovak journalism got under the influence of media. The Church supports owners of newspapers, magazines, radio and television companies so that they were aware that the addressee of their work is a human being that needs to develop in the intellectual, moral, aesthetic and religious ways. However, there is a problem in the human level; it exists because a man is not fully brought up in all four ways but only partially. Many journalists and people do not understand the language and moreover, they do not understand what the media do to a man and what a man can do with media.
Your book “Power and non- power” you pinpoint the problems of priest to stay in contact with journalists and you appeal to maintain good relationships among them. What do you consider to be the main problem in this communication? Lack of interests of journalists, their poor education or fear from priest?
The main problem of creating an intensive relationship between priests and journalists is rooted in problems connected with the essential work of priests and journalist. I understand that priests and church representatives want to answer journalists´ questions in the best way, they want to give them as much relevant and wise information as possible, however, they are sometimes not able to do so immediately and briefly. Theological explanation and a few- sided professional explanation of the church are not needed! Journalists are not specialists in theology, philosophy, in the history of the church or in the canonical law. That is why they generalize their questions they ask in not very professional way, like laymen. Without preparation. And then priests find it very difficult to answer questions that were not meant to be bad. I recommend my brothers, priests to be sincere while communicating with journalist, try to help them. It is very important not to disturb and damage the first contact, the first relationship with journalists.
Does medial communication have its limits?
Sure, the man and his goodwill should be its limits.
You point out the methods of “infotainment” (information and entertainment) - spread of violence on TV, making and forming stupid generation brought up by media and PC games. Many advertising and medial agencies, creators, owners of media claim that people want and need this kind of entertainment. How do they dare to speak for people and dictate them what readers have to read, what TV programmes are the viewers supposed to watch?
This is the way of presentation I am researching and I will try to apply it to an everyday situation. You come to a restaurant and you would like to have garlic soup. The waiter comes and tells you: “Unfortunately, we do not have garlic soup, you know, but I will bring you mushroom soup!” And he gives you a bowl of mushroom soup immediately. Next day, you enter the same restaurant again and you feel like having chicken. The waiter will come and tell you:” We have run out of chicken today but we have delicious pork and I will bring it straight away.” When you are not given a choice in the restaurant, and you choose, what the waiter brings you, what he offers you. And it is the same in the media, for example on TV. I am sure people would like to watch different programmes, but they accept what they have been offered by creators of programmes. They are left with no choice. Would it not be different if people were given wider choice? Isn ´t it true that accept what the media give them, what is being broadcasted at the moment and what journalists are informing us about?
Who is Professor
He was born on 23rd April 1945 in Poland. After having become a priest and after special pastoration when he dealt with deaf people. After completing his studies in Krakow and Lublin, he studied in Washington, Geneva and Milan. He is a professor at the Catholic University of John Paul II in Lublin where he used to be the head of the Department of Present Form of Spreading Faith. In 1998, he established the University of Vladislav Jagielonsky and he became his first rector. In 1995, he became the member of the professors from the Catholic University in Lublin who, based on the appeal of the Pope John Paul II, began helping Slovakia in a professional preparation of priests any laymen. He is internationally recognized authority in pastoral theology and mass media communication; he is not only medial theoretician but also a man of practice. In 1993, he established Radio Lublin and he became its first director. He is the author and co - author of several monographies, many articles in journals and publication for both experts and general public. As a mass media expert, he has given lectures all over the world. He speaks fourteen languages including Slovak language. He has both Polish and Slovak citizenship.
Since 2003, he has been cooperating with the Greek Catholic Theological Faculty at Prešov University. His personal and professional qualities have been appreciated by several international institutions. In 1997, he was given an award “The Man of the Year” by the International Bibliographical Centre in Cambridge. In 2001, he received the award “The Man of the Year” from the American Bibliographical Institute. In 2001, he was nominated for the Nobel Price for Peace by the international institutions. In 2002, he was given a Medal for helping Trnava University in Trnava, in 2004, he was awarded the International Price of the Slovak Academy of Science and in 2008, he was given a honourable doctorate of the Prešov University in Prešov. On 23 April 2008, he was elected the rector of the Catholic University in Ružomberok.
Castle of Nitra and its Cathedral
Photo: Ján Tarábek the author and the Publisher of the book Nitra, the Jewel of Slovakia, Slovakia, the Heart of Europe
Old Nitra is the mother of all Slovak towns and cities. It is said to be the town of Principles Pribina, Rastislav and Svätopluk. The beginning of Christianity, writing and education in contemporary Slovakia are tightly related to Cyril and Methodius tradition. When you visit Upper Town that is dominated by the castle and its surroundings, you can experience history presented by baroque sights in the castle cathedral, the building of Great Seminary, Diocese Library and Kluch´s palace with Corgoň.
Welcome to the Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton Košice
Apart from the luxurious rooms and suits, there are comfortable congress rooms available for business clients. Finally, Košice will have become involved in the map of congress places in Central Europe.
Photo and visualisation: the archive of the Interhouse Košice, a.s.
At the end of January 2009, a newly reconstructed four star original Hotel Slovan will be opened in Košice. After two years of construction works it has changed not only its appearance and infrastructure but also its name and position in the market. Having been named the Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton Košice, it is intended to maintain its reputation of the most prestigious hotel in East Slovakia.
Trial operation and two balls will test its services of a high standard and they will proceed the ceremonial opening of the fully air- conditioned hotel. The hotel includes a casino, shopping passage (with a bank and a pharmacy), a parking lot with the capacity of 180 places next to the hotel and 40 parking places in the hotel premises.
For business travellers and clients
“Business travellers and business clients are the targeted segment of the hotel. Of course, we also offer our services to local guests,” said Marek Harbuľák, the CEO of the company Interhouse Košice, a.s. that owns the Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton. He is an expert in the field of hoteliers and he left Piešťany, where he used to manage prestigious Hotel Balnea Esplanade and Palace, and returned to Košice.
The reconstructed hotel with modern architecture has 340 accommodation capacities offering 160 luxurious rooms and ten suits. All guestrooms feature a contemporary design that is at once sophisticated and comfortable. There is an oversized desk and a specially designed adjustable ergonomic chair included in the standard furnishing of rooms as well as suits. There is a high speed internet access, Neutrogena cosmetics, a kettle, the coffee and tea service, an iron and board, hairdryer, a safe, two telephones, a concept Sweet Dreams by DoubleTree (possibility to have your own pillow programme), Sweet Dream alarm clock with MP3 output and daily press every work day. Relax on the Sweat Dream Bed while watching a movie on a 26” flatscreen TV. The rooms, as well as the service, are designed to give you the best possible stay experience.
The Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton offers both smoking and non-smoking floors, an extra bed and a baby cot in the room, accessible rooms and rooms for disabled people.
“Our marketing strategy uses online booking system and principles of dynamic prices (Revenue management) which is not typical only for hotel business but also for airways. It means that we have floating prices for accommodation and services. For example, if the client makes a reservation at our hotel two months in advance, he will get a lower price than a client who orders our services just before the arrival in Košice,” says Marek Harbuľák.
Mr Harbuľák sees the importance of the hotel in its ability to offer and provide comfort services of hotel tourism that had been missed in the second biggest Slovak town. “Our targeted group is organizers of various company congresses and social events. We offer flexible conference room and space for social events in the area of 1200 m2 - visual aids. with the capacity of 500 people for the reception and 500 people for representative dinner or in the theatre arrangement. These premises can be adjusted to requirements of a particular event and the number of people.” Three salons with flexible capacity from 20 to 30 people are available in the hotel. They are suitable for business negotiations and smaller groups. Conference and social premises are equipped with the most modern audio
Fitness for the Public
The Hotel offers relax and rest in the hotel fitness centre with modern diagnostic equipment, with a whirlpool and typical dry Finnish sauna. The smaller capacity of a fitness centre is compensated by an opportunity to make a reservation not during opening hours, until late in the evening. Amenities are free for the hotel guests and it is also opened to the public but not during opening hour. We will serve you a drink and refreshment as there.
“As Košice is not a typical tourist destination yet, we would like to develop and use sport and cultural potential in the form of special service packages. For example, our guests will be offered to visit a theatre performance, opera, golf course or a sport event,” Marek Harbuľák continues.
There are two restaurants with two conceptions and a lobby bar in the hotel. On the ground floor, guests can enjoy a selection of Mediterranean specialities in the hotel restaurant. And on the first floor, there is a restaurant serving specialities from all over the world. The restaurants also serve a daily menu for accommodated and non - accommodated guests. The capacity of restaurants is 150 and 110 people. Why have you decided to offer Mediterranean cuisine? - I asked the CEO. “It is very popular and attractive not only for local clients but also for our structure of guests from the Czech Republic, German speaking countries and the USA.”
The hotel offers its clients and guests a unique fidelity programmes and club programme Hilton HHonors that is connected to the worldwide hotel chain Hilton in the world. Within these programmes, clients can collect points or miles in any hotel of this hotel chain and they can also sue their points in contracted airways for example the Czech Airlines, Air France. Lufthansa, Swiss Air,Finnair Ojy. Points can be exchanged for services in more than 3,000 hotels all over the world, for example free accommodation, access to the Internet, free breakfast, upgrade of accommodation, car rental with a discount, etc.
Planners of conferences and social events can collect points within the programme called Hilton Hhonors Event Planner.
New Hotel Icon in Košice
“It is the first of the Hilton Hotels in Slovakia and also one of the first in Europe with a brand Doubletree,” says Julius Rezeš, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company Interhouse Košice, a.s.
Photo: the archive
Mr Rezeš, why did you decide to invest in such a large modernization and reconstruction of the original Slovan Hotel?
I would personally call it the request of the modern era. The building of the hotel has always been a strategic point due to its position, history and the overall credit. We have attempted to increase and strengthen its position of the leader. There was no other alternation than the total reconstruction that had been supposed to have been taken into consideration.
What motivated you to find the Group J&T as a partner to carry out this project?
We are living in the era when big and strong corporations join together. Not because of their weakness but they just need to strengthen their positions. The reality is that we made an agreement about a strategic partnership with the J&T Group in order to carry out the project Double Tree by Hilton Košice. I perceive this partner as an experienced player in the estate business and mainly in the segment of construction and administration of luxurious hotels and not only in Slovakia.
For me, it is not only the business issue. I am a passionate local patriot and the upgrade of the hotel to the top European hotel has this meaning as well.
What is the total amount of investment and what was the most complicated part of the project?
The overall investments have reached approximately 1.2 billion crowns. However, complications regarding the financial crisis did not avoid big developers, either. We are not the exception. Nevertheless, we are endeavouring to maintain fair relationships either with a bank or with the Construction Office- the Institutional of the Main Architect of Košice or other institutions. I have to say that we fulfil our mutual agreements and we strongly believe that attempts of all interested in the project will result in the ceremonial opening of the hotel at the end of January 2009.
How do you want to use the connection of the hotel in the international chain hotels?
The company Interhouse Košice, a.s. and the corporation Hilton Hotels signed a Franchise Agreement that means the Hotel Doubletree by Hilton Košice has an equal position within the chain of Hilton Hotels and is the part of the worldwide reservation system and it will provide a high standard of accommodation and services as guests of Hilton Hotels are used to all over the world.
Do you prepare the similar project for the Grand Hotel in Starý Smokovec as well?
We have prepared other common projects together with J &T Group. Estimated investment in our projects is at the level of 2 billion Slovak Crowns. It is too early to talk about them now.
How much will it cost to overcome the crisis?
The assets of Russia’s largest lending organizations, the 30 largest banks listed by the size of assets, increased by an average of 30%-50% in January-August 2008
Tatyana Marchenko and Marina Titova for RIA Novosti (Authors are strategic analysts at FBK, the leading accounting and business advisory services company in Russia)
The methods for combating the financial crisis differ between Russia and most other countries. Most of the government allocations in other countries are spent on state guarantees for banks, people and companies. The Russian government prefers to inject funds directly into the economy. Why?
As much as $9.4 trillion, or 15% of global GDP, has been allocated in the world to combat the financial crisis, with a spread of between 1% of GDP in Denmark and 225% in Ireland.
In September 2008, Russia launched a large-scale program of financial assistance to companies and banks, estimated at 6 trillion rubles (nearly $217 billion) or 13.9% of GDP. This assessment does not include allocations from regional budgets.
Russia has invested nothing in state guarantees
These huge investments in fighting the crisis belie the government’s assurances that there is no fundamental crisis in Russia. Like in the rest of the world, the fundamental reason behind the financial crisis in Russia was the overcapitalization (overheating) of the stock market.
The government’s financial stabilization program is based on four types of investment. An analysis of investment structures in the 23 richest countries, including Western Europe, shows that 49% of funds are invested in state guarantees for bank debt, 15% in refinancing financial institutions, 10% in the acquisition of ailing assets, and 21% in other measures mostly connected with stimulating economic demand, such as tax cuts, infrastructure development, and enhancement of social programs. But Russia has invested nothing in state guarantees for bank debt and 84% in capitalization. Why is Russia’s approach different from other countries?
Russian oil producers tighten belts
Oleg Mityayev, RIA Novosti economic commentator
Russian oil majors discussed problems caused by the slump in oil prices at a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on November 10.The prime minister called a meeting on concern that oil exports began falling rapidly and, consequently, so did federal revenues. As a result, the oil executives received more promises of tax discounts during the hard times. As for motorists, they can hardly expect a proportionate drop in gas prices.
Global oil prices dropped to $100 per barrel in late September after peaking at $147 in July, then plummeted to $60 in November and have apparently stabilized. However, export duties remained at the same level so Russian oil producers began complaining that oil exports were economically inefficient.
Export oil deliveries were 25% below
Russia sets oil and oil product export duties every two months based on its monitoring of international prices for the country’s mainstay Urals crude blend, under current law.
However, after a sharp fall in crude prices in October, the government was pressured by the oil lobby to slash duties a month earlier, on November 1. However, oil companies weren’t happy with the cut from $372.2 to $287.3 per metric ton. They began boycotting export shipments.
Nikolai Tokarev, head of the state pipeline monopoly Transneft, said on November 9 that export oil deliveries were 25% below the usual level in early November. He added that projected shipments for December were also downgraded as producers confirmed only about one-third of the usual volume, according to some estimates.
Oil companies were obviously trying to pressure the government to cut export taxes again on December 1 thus prompting Putin to meet with them. Moreover, they must have convinced the prime minister of their logic, since he said in the wake of the talks that oil export duties should be exactly proportionate to the oil prices and that they would be adjusted monthly.
Hungarian Nationalists “hit” Slovakia
In November 2008, they provoked in Slovakia twice- on the All Saints Day during the football match in Dunajská Streda and Kráľovský Chlmec where they, wearing the uniforms of the National Guard, placed a wreath to commemorate the Vienna Arbitration. In Budapest, they demonstrated in front of the Slovak Embassy, they burnt the Slovak flag and blocked the Hungarian- Slovak border crossings on the Hungarian side.
Prepared by Dimenzie based on the documents provided by the Government Office of the SR
Photo: the archive
Headlines and sub-headlines written by Dimenzie
These provocations were proceeded by the Swearing in Ceremony of new Hungarian Guard members held in Heroes’ Square in Budapest where 400 new members of the Hungarian Guard were sworn in on October 25, 2008. This was now the 4th ceremony swearing in new members to this organisation, which was founded by Gábor Vona, the chairman of the radical political party Jobbik - the Movement for better Hungary in July 2007. The main speaker included in the oath, among other things:“We do not forget! And when the time comes, it will hurt! The current world order wants to turn this country into a colony and make slaves out of Hungarians. Only when history comes to sweep this Jewish neoliberal boodle away, will our time then come and Hungary, down to the last piece of soil, down to the last drop of water, down to the last man, will be ours.”
He was born in Nové Zámky (November 13, 1958), grew up in Košice. He attended Secondary Technical School of Civil Engineering there. He is a photo reporter and he has been a graphic for Dimenzie Magazine for over the last ten years. He has been taking photographs for almost four decades. He started his professional career in the Košice Večerník (a daily newspaper), later he worked for the International Press Agency and also for the daily Pravda. He has been taking photographs for several weeklies and monthlies as well as for his costumers. At the occasion of live jubilee, he has prepared a set of black- and- white photographs for you. At the era of digital cameras and when almost everyone takes photographs, he presents himself using probably the most demanding way- to express beauty around us not only by shapes but also by colours.
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