Will the USA be free? When?
When I first read about the USA and how they had started to divide inhabitants coming from different countries according to ´ safety threatening ´ while applying for visa and as they started to take pictures of them and take their fingerprints (As if they were thieves.), I remember myself times while I was studying in this country at the expanse of taxpayers. At the time, Bill Clinton was a President and he was not ´ affected ´ by Monika...
To mark people by traffic light colours reminded me a story I experienced in New York seven years ago. One day I parked my car near the historically first, more- than- one- hundred- year- old underground (subway). I was wondering how it looked like inside. I had a strange feeling and my inner voice was provoking me to enter the underground. You can imagine what the space, which had not been used for ages, looked like- dirt, smell, rats running up and down and also you could notice water leaking from the broken pipes and running down the walls. ...
When I was walking along the corridor deeper and deeper to the darkness,
I heard footsteps and dirty words but I could not see anyone. I could only hear someone telling me to f... off and threatening me to kick my ass if I did not get away. I must confess that my blood pressure increased but I carried on walking as far as the light flashing from candles and two men stopped me. They looked like Saddam Hussein when he had been pulled out of the hole. They were standing there and swearing at me. I had been trained well at that time
(Dirty words were the first things I was taught at university in order to protect myself from arseholes and to show them that I was not afraid of them.), so I returned some swear words to them. Obviously, it worked because they stopped swearing and asked me what I was doing there. When I explained them that I was a journalist and I only wanted to observe the subway. They wondered which ´hellhole´ I had come from. "From Slovakia," I answered and added: "Do you know where it is? Do you know where Europe is?" They did not. Nevertheless, they claimed that they had been to Prague.
I felt sorry for them, so I suggested them: "Guys, I´ll give you 20 dollars, I do not have any more cash on me. On the other hand, you must tell your life story." They agreed. One of them said that he had studied medicine and had worked as a surgeon for many years. Another one graduated from Harvard and used to work as a lawyer. Being shocked I asked why they were living in the subway as homeless people. They answered: "We could not resist the pressure, to act as if we were trained monkeys, quiet blackmailing for our opinions, another one in privacy or at work. Finally, we are happy here, we do not miss anything here. We like being free in spirit."
I do not know whether they were lying or not. However, based on our chat and their arguments I suppose they were telling the truth. Let us go back to real life. Who is the USA fighting against by using their visa and marking people? Against terrorists? Who are they humiliating? Are Slovak people less reliable than for instance dispensing-with- visa Slovenians? Why are there people who are allowed to visit "this free land" and people who are not? Isn't it the fact that this country has been changing to a cage or a historical museum of people who are restlessly fighting for every single dollar and are forced to watch never ending stories about American fighters for freedom and democracy in other parts of the world? The USA is being changed into a country where people cannot believe one another, they suspect one another and are afraid of being fired from work or arrested due to the fight against terrorism? It looks as if they became hostages in their own state.
The CNN or other American media do not explain sufficiently the reasons for terrorist attacks and threatening against this empire. How superficially they analyse the real freedom and human rights; dignity and their information about education, culture and social feelings of the nation are too weak. I am not against the USA but against the American officer or immigration officer staring at me as if I was an alien or potential criminal when I just wanted to visit my friends or relatives. I find this approach very offensive and I am glad that there are at least Poland, Polish President and the Mayor of Warsaw as representatives of Central European region who protested against American treatment-lack of respect. Have you noticed that neither a single politician nor a constitutional representative has said a word for our defence?
Editor in Chief
Slovak Government is not free
Doc.JUDr. Róbert Fico, CSc. (born in 1964) is the leader of SMER (i.e. Direction) party and a specialist for human rights and criminal law. He has been the most popular Slovak left wing politician for a few years. Last surveys of public opinion confirmed his leading position in the top ten of Slovak politicians. In 1999 he constituted an ambitious political party, so-called “ the third way” which ideological programme, as he likes saying, can be compared to Tony Blair´s programme of Labour Party or German SPD. In the end of 2003, his party supported the petition activities of Slovak Trade Union for holding a new parliamentary election. “ The main goal of this political attack is to finish this right winged and antisocial politics of the government. M.Dzurinda´s government is not in accordance with Slovak constitution because it demolishes the social character and free market economy, “ says this native from Topoany and an ex-agent for representation of the Slovak republic in European Committee for Human Rights and in European court for human rights.
Mr.Fico What would an early election change? Foreign countries saying that we are waiting for economic boom... support this government...
Politics is not being done for foreign companies, but for our people. We cannot let us pacify that everything will be better. People have been listening to the same thing for 6 years. Situation will not be better. People will have to bear an integration shock and it will be very tough. An alternative after election is not about changing the names or parties but about political contents. We offer as an alternative of socially bearable reforms. We are thinking of increasing the inside deficit in budget but supposing that the outgoings would go to the development, to motorway construction, regional development, infrastructure and education. Finally, there is a confrontation between right- winged and left-winged programmes. That is positive.
M.Dzurinda, Prime Minister, permanently claims that you support an earlier election because you cannot wait and you want to become powerful quickly. In media he often leaves you messages and asks you to wait.
Whoever says he does want to have political power (of government) is telling lies. Because politics is about power and about means available to influence the development of the state. It is usual that political parties try to gather the power in parliamentary election.
My opponents have brought up an argument that I am not patient because SMER is not a party that can be accused of extremism, not being or not being accepted abroad. They miss real critics. Instead of it, they turned up with populist proclamations that are not allowed to be disputed. Yes, we are impatient because we need to stop this suffering of Slovakia. Our steps are standard and aimed.
You are talking about suffering of Slovakia, right-winged coalition about positive and inevitable reforms. In what ways is Slovakia suffering? What from?
Let’s take an example from any area of people’s life, we will find out that if this huge chaos continued longer, it would be better to stop it immediately and search for some different ways suitable for Slovakia. On 1 January 2004 a new state service started. Let have a look at the offices, where are they? Why do they miss stamps, head officers are not appointed? What is happening with a reform of retirement system? It seems that the new law passed and returned back to the parliament by a president will have to be amended. We are not against reforms or free-market economy. We just want the market economy not market society. We want reforms respecting people, their needs in the area of schools and education, culture and health care and social security in the needs of their everyday lives. Yes, that is our impatience. Our opponents cannot see find anything against us.
Not the fact that SMER is believed to support Slovak- Russian nuclear and energetic lobby?
First, SMER supports interests of the Slovak republic and its citizens. An essential interest of Slovakia is to provide its energetic independence. It is obvious and can be proved by many studies, figures. Reality of present days shows us that Europe is and will suffer from lack of electric energy. That means, the countries, which have built sufficient capacity of energy will have an advantage. Thus, I am asking now- is it more economical to import electric energy from abroad or build up capacities for domestic use as well as for export. No doubt, it is Slovak concern to complete the construction of Nuclear Power Plant in Mochovce and SMER is supporting it.
Why don’t you propose another reforms and laws? You have initiated legal action against the government at the Constitutional Court. You accused the government of acting against the constitution.
If we claim that acting of our contemporary government is in contradiction with our Constitution, we have already taken particular steps. Either we initiate proposals in the parliament or we try to eliminate the influence of right- winged politics or we address the Constitutional Court. For instance we proposed to analyse health care fees established by Minister of Health Care and also against the Institution for Regulation of line branches, which decided to increase the prices in the year 2002 that was against the constitution. We initiate proposals but we are not responsible for very slow acting of the court, mostly in these very sensitive questions. We use those legal means that are available to opposition. SMER is an opposite party, we cannot sit on two chairs (i.e. We cannot be both in government and in opposition.)
You are saying that by your opposition politics you give the government the mirror. However, it has a good reputation abroad. So why are you blaming them?
We blame them for their politics based on obstruction of social rights, price increasing, low life standard and on the sale of state property. I think Slovak right-winged politicians listen very carefully only to International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank, but it is the road to hell. Every country, which is a student at these institutions, will end up very badly. These institutions do not care how people live. They just need to take a control over financial institutions, privatisation of strategic enterprises so important for country development and do not pay any attention to all the negatives. Slovakia in on its way to end up like Argentina.
Are you against globalisation? Which alternatives do you propose?
An alternative saying Slovakia needs real reforms. Can imposing of 20 crowns or fifty crowns fee be considered as health care reformation? No, because we only annoyed people but did not solve its problems. We are not afraid of saying that it is necessary to start with rationalisation of health care institutions. However, we support the philosophy of travelling a few kilometres further in order to reach high-quality service rather than have a hospital under each window with lack of quality.
You firmly criticise tax reform. A representative of British investors informed us that when Ivan Mikloš, Minister of Finances, was presenting his reform, 700 people came to his lecture. They really praised establishing of equal 19 per cent income tax, because in Britain it is 33 per cent. He said that media write about Slovakia as about new Hong Kong....
What a reform it is! It will help only the wealthiest people. Why is it concerning minority and doe not help majority? No wonder that foreign investors like this politics very much. This tax is advantageous for high finance /capital) not for common people. Income of inland firms is so low, that is waste of time to talk about it. Let better have a look at Value Added Tax (VAT). Is it really a reform that caused an increase in the prices of groceries, services and some branches of private business are in danger, mostly small manufactures and medium entrepreneurs in civil engineering, agriculture and service? We will have to change this “so- called” reform.
By this reform, the government attempts to increase incomes into state budget. How would your party do it?
We are not crazy and we know that the state budget is not a chewing gum. We have to compare behaviour of Slovak and Czech politicians. Czechs do not care of recommendations of IMF or the World Bank and they go for a higher deficit supposing that deficit will be used for strategic objectives, for development. We It is not allowed to overdraw it. But our is overdrawn.
Why are Czech politicians more resistant to international monetary and bank institutions?
It is a question of sovereignty and politicians independence. In this case, our right-winged politicians are “ big students” at big international monetary institutions not having their own opinion. They always go for a training or consultation and come home with particular instructions and opinions like with the Holy Bible.
Whom are you talking about?
About Ivan Mikloš, Minister of Finance, . Kaník, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, P.Rusko, Minister of Economy as well as the National Bank of Slovakia. I understand that we have to continue on the way of market economy, but we are not able to create enough resources for social programmes. Slovakia cannot end up so that we would go to tank oil in Austria where they have salaries ten times higher than in our country. I refuse the philosophy of an excellent macroeconomic index when our people are as poor as a church mouse. Czechs have a bad macroeconomic index, but their live standards are higher. Ina while we will have to look thoroughly at a price development of groceries in our country and in the Czech republic. Let make decisions in order to help people.
In a referendum on the European, Union Slovaks supported the integration of Slovakia to the European Union. Do you think they did not know about higher prices?
I remember the government emphasising that it was only a demagogy while we were showing the risks of rapid price increase after the integration. I am convinced the prices will go up again after 1 May. There is a pressure for price equalisation within the European area but it can be realised only if the public is ready for it. The Czech republic was aware of it. Their government has prepared public in the terms of wages and social security. An integration shock in the Czech republic will be substantially less affective.
Can you prove your opinion?
An average wage in Slovakia is 250 EURO per month. We must imagine that when we enter the union, we will be confronted with European prices while having our wage of 250 EURO. One would pay this amount for three people in a better restaurant or anywhere else. We are criticising that our government undervalued Slovak integration to the EU and their politics is profitable only for a small group of citizens and ignores the needs of majority.
Based on your statements Slovakia does not a standard government, but a government supporting macrocapital, monetary institutions and bank.
I am convinced about it. The government doe not show any interest in majority of citizens. It takes precautions serving to macrocapital. It is extremely right- winged and antisocial party interrupting a social character of this state.
Can the contemporary government do its own politics or is it completely dependent on international institutions?
Supranational capital is interested in privatisation of strategic enterprises. Therefore, the government has done everything it was said to do. It had to. That is why there is no other way for the time being. It can only carry on selling out state property at any costs and listen to the criteria of foreign monetary institutions and banks. This government will never take a plunge and make a radical chance in behalf of ordinary people. It is paradox that all three parties of government coalition declare themselves to Christianity and Catholic Church. I do not understand why are they so antisocial. If they followed social revelation / doctrines of Church, their politics would be completely different. It is an evidence of deceiving and exploiting their religious feelings. I recommend to every single citizen of Slovakia to get acquitained with Professor Stieglitz a laureate of Nobel Prize for economy and his works where he presented his idea of privatisation as a matter of supranational companies.
Are you telling us that this government does not have any choice? Do they have to listen? Is it the problem of the party declaring themselves as Christians that they do not have enough experts for economy and national economy and economic reforms? Moreover, charged one or two people declaring themselves to liberalism?
In Slovakia, we cannot talk about reforms but only about price increase. The government cannot lead different kind of politics because privatisation was carried out under very strange circumstances. These days a quality of privatisation of Slovak Gas Industry surfaced. Some Slovak politicians have made a fortune. So nowadays, it looks as if our government politicians were servitude because they must have done something. Therefore, this government is not free. I am convinced about it!
Due to your initiation, an extraordinary parliamentary meeting concerning the corruption in Slovakia was held a year ago. You accused the government of earning a fortune by selling Slovak Gas Industry. Soon after that, you testified at General Prosecutor’s Office that started to act in January 2004. What do you expect from leading legal proceedings against the government?
I think I have done what I was supposed to. I testified as a witness. I objected: it was not an international tender because there was only one competitor so it was not a competition. In addition, the only competitor knew that would be the only one in tender and Slovak Gas Industry should have been sold at any costs. The government did not make a statement about not continuing due to presence of the only one competitor and that a new tender would be held. So there is a suspicion that the purchase price was lowered due to release of information and who informed a competitor is in tender himself.
Therefore, a joint consortium of Gas de France and Ruhrgas as a purchaser got the information that they were the only competitor illegally before opening the envelopes.
They must have known when they were writing in the price of 130 milliard crowns. It was the price influenced by the fact that they knew they were alone. Someone must have told somebody, who would have made a profit.
Confession of your own mistakes leads to remedy and improvement
“Slovak people had not had their own state for centuries. Many nations without their own state assimilated. Isn’t it a reason to be proud of our nation? ,“ asks Štefan Markuš, Slovak ex-ambassador in Hungary.
"Do not match a bad thing with the majority. " He got used to this credo coming from the Holy Bible (Exodus 23:2) and has followed it all his life. We are talking about doc. Ing. Štefan Markuš, DrSc. ( Nyíregyháza 1936), our high-ranking physicist, pedagogue, and extraordinary and plenipotentiary ex- ambassador in Hungary. In his book of essays " Struggle for an open society" (Polygrafia SAV 1997) he quoted a very remarkable idea of Winston Churchill about intelligence of people involved in politics and it is very close to him. " In politics it is not necessary to be right all the time, but to be polite all the time." People, who had an opportunity to meet Štefan Markuš face to face, certainly agree with me that this characteristic expresses his attitudes. He is well known for his tolerance, frankness, morality and undoubtedly unimpeachable character.
Mr Markuš, is it possible to keep all these good features even in politics?
The prevailing opinion is that politics is a fight for power, influence and money. Hardly anyone connects it with honesty, justice, honour and unselfish service to citizens. The fact that politics is connected only with negative characteristics is a challenge to make the positive features predominating. If a person enters politics without changing resolutions, positives in politics will survive. I suppose that honest and straight search for the truth is the only hope to rescue the honest politics.
You were a Slovak ambassador in Hungary for three years and six months. So you were staying in the country having many historical questions unsolved? What led you to accept this position?
The offer to take a post of an ambassador in Budapest was unexpected. The words of one famous Christian politician encouraged me in my hesitation: "Who else can repair broken relationship between Hungarians and Slovak if not a Christian?" Being trusted delighted me but on the other hand, I was under the pressure of responsibility. Finally, my determination to do this experiment with me won. From 1999 to 2002, a good team that achieved excellent results in the field of Slovak diplomacy was created. We musn´t forget that at that time we had to face nationally exaggerated politics of Victor Orbán, Prime Minister.
Do you think that during the years you were leading Slovak diplomatic mission in Budapest there was a change in Hungarian - Slovak relationship?
Certainly yes. In positive way. I will state the facts very briefly: Maria Valeria´s bridge over Danube was reconstructed (Štúrovo- Esztergom). The General Consulate was open in Békés Czaba. Trade exchange reached one milliard US (with positive Slovak balance). Crossborder and regional co-operation developed. Contacts with Slovak minority consolidated. Systematic co-operation with Slovak regional self-government led us to an increasing number of people having Slovak nationality. Although some problems I experienced during my mission, I was leaving Hungary a feeling of well done work.
Did this post of an ambassador in Budapest meet your expectations?
Yes and no. I am saying that only because my biggest dream about historical Slovak- Hungarian equalisation (dual alliance) didn´ t come true. We have not reached that moment yet. I believe it will happen and the past trauma and the feeling of injustice dating back to Trianon Treaty will be overcome. The rest fulfilled.
What prevents from historical Slovak- Hungarian reconciliation? What can it strengthen?
We still bear a burden of injustice on our arms. The feeling appearing regularly on the both sides are reasonable. We haven't reached the point (neither cultural nor political) yet to confess that we did injustice to each other. Both nations always find the guilt on one side. As long as we overcome these feelings of injustice and we leave the past to be studied only by historians, we will open the gate to the historical reconciliation. We will have to go a long way such as Germans and French did.
How would you classify the fact that Slovakia has not had its ambassador in Budapest for nearly two years?
I consider it a big mistake. From the point of view of the development of relationships and diplomacy, our southern neighbour is as important for us as the USA. I know that Ministry of Foreign Affairs is looking for a suitable candidate- not successfully. Due to amount of work, contacts, and lasting open questions in mutual relationships, diplomacy in Hungary is not a lucrative job for professional diplomats. It is said the Budapest means very hard work. My experience is there is still exists life.
Together with your younger brother Josef, who is currently the chairman of Slovak Cultural Society, you were brought up in the family of a reformed preacher. What kinds of value were you give by your parents? Did they warn you about something?
We were brought up in pietistic and multicultural family. That meant a very strict, conservative religious background. Readings from the Holy Bible every day, prayers at breakfast time, obligatory visits of worships, simple life, modest clothes, forbiddance to make friends from the streets, no "profane pleasures" such as going to the cinema or theatre. Pietism was a natural norm, so children did not make any protest. I still admire my parents how they could manage it. As I mentioned I came from multicultural family what meant, so our family was multilingual. My mother was Slovak. She died at the time she could not communicate to me (I was only eight months old). My father and grandmothers taught me Slovak from the both sides). However, I attended Hungarian school. My stepmother was German, so she brought the third language to our family. She talked to her son Josef and to other siblings in German. My strongest experiences are from childhood were my visits in Levice, where I was talking to my father in three languages not recognising when we changed the language.
How would you define national politics of Slovak Cultural Society, or your brother's activities? Do you think that nationalism has already be overcome part of Slovak national history?
This question is very sensitive for me. I support national awareness but I am against nationalism. Sometimes it is very hard to find the borders separating them. "Cultural -Society" I consider it as overcome feature in this post-modern era. Moreover, in the period of sovereign existence of Slovak State and very soon an equal member of the European Union, can ´t see its importance any more?
Feelings of patriotism are very specific and cannot be spread as an infection. Slovak Cultural Society should be a civil association among patriots.
Basis of tolerance you have gained in your childhood. How did you understand injustice of post-war reparations to your family?
Displacement of Slovak people from Hungary to Slovakia seemed as a big adventure t me. I was about freedom, escape from everyday control of my strict parents. Living in a boarding school was an unforgettable experience. Even the journey from Nyíregyháza to Košice in the America military car was adventure. Then we travelled from Košice to Kežmarok by train. Feeling of injustice of this displacement act came later while we were living in Levice, where my parents moved. Hungarian people from Levice and surrounding villages were forced to leave Slovakia. Even nowadays, I consider the whole process of voluntary displacement of Slovaks from Hungary and violent displacement of Hungarians from Slovakia as politically incorrect decision of the post- war government garniture. On the other hand, I understand the fact that defeated nation always draw the short straw.
Slovaks should apologise to Hungarians and Hungarians should apologise to Slovaks for all the injustice committed on them in 1938-1945 and flowingly in 1945-1948?
We have already touched this problem. An apology should be mutual without any relicts from the critical periods. We should stop counting and measuring committed injustice. History cannot be corrected only accepted. It should be a reasonable apology without emotions and confirmed by forgetting on both sides.
How did you live in the 1950s, in cruel years? Didn't you have any problems due to father's religious orientation?
In February 1948 my father was very disappointed and did not even try to hide it. By then his bringing up had been strictly religious, after " Winning February" political and civil education were added. We were brought up by the news on "Free Europe" and " a Voice of America" (Because Slovak signal was interrupted, we always had Hungarian or German to back up). My father lost his permission to work as a preacher and I was fired form the Secondary Grammar School." A friend of our family and a headmaster of Secondary Training School in Levice advised me to go the factory in Tlmae, where I became a locksmith with a certificate. Being a man of workers origin, I took as an advantage. I improved my " family background" and it allowed me to return to Secondary School, to graduate and go to university.
After finishing the Faculty of technical and nuclear physics at VUT in Prague, you got a job with a State Institute for wood research in Bratislava and later with the Slovak Scientific Academy. Were the conditions for scientific research and development more suitable than these days?
During communism, the Institute of basic and applicator research was the shelter for many politically incorrect people. Mostly excellent scientists. Generally, I wanted to teach nuclear physic at Technical University in Bratislava. Nevertheless "hard- working" cadre employee found some information about the preacher having the same name in Levice and asked for a report from Local Committee of Communistic Party. The illusion of my worker's origin had disappeared and all my problems started again. But there were some honest communists who helped me in my crisis. One of them ( a director of ŠDVU) tore my cadre report from Levice in front of my eyes and added: " Now in your report there are some stories about being an excellent student and a very good manager of youth sporting activities." My career of a scientist continued at the Slovak Scientific Academy in further PhD study.
Do you agree with a general opinion that "brains" and young talented scientists are running away from Slovakia? If so, do you know any? Haven ´t they end up as dealers, washers of dishes or taxi drivers.
Escape of brains from Slovakia is not critical. Those who ended as taxi drivers or dealers were not worth Slovak science. Those who succeeded are a great contribution "pro homo," i.e. for our country, because create a new generation of scientists from Slovakia. It is very exciting to discover those who have been forgotten at home. For instance, I have a schoolmate at Jet Propaltion Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena. Hardly anyone knows that he installs optical devices to probes for exploration of universe. Recent pictures of Mars represent the work of this Slovak scientist. I believe there are plenty of us all around the world.
You had a chance to participate on the project for construction of a supersonic aeroplane- Concord. Why did you interrupt further co-operation with this famous project?
Dr. Denys J. Mead, who led the research works concerning Concords at the Institute of noise and vibration research, invited me to participate in it. He knew me thanks to my scientific works published in Great Britain. First, I did not even know that I was working on Concords. I was analysing dissipate systems
(I.e. Physical systems absorbing or dispersing energy or change the form of energy into mechanical energy into thermal.) and determine the amount of dispersing of acoustic and vibration energy in very complicated structures. Only after six months, I learnt that we had been working on construction components of Concords. They did not have problems to trust me then. After military intervention of Czechoslovakia, I faced a dilemma of emigrating or returning home. In spring 1969, Slovakia won. For me it was not acceptable to let communists confiscate all my written documents (both scientific and private) archive and bookcases in my flat in Bratislava. I do not regret, because I know it was the right decision.
You are George Soros sympathiser. He is a world- known financier, philanthropist and philosophising economist, who established Fund to support young people's education. Why do you take an interest in him? ? Why is he so highly esteemed?
George Soros dared to make a hypothesis having only one solid base onto which we can build something. It is knowledge of our own fallibility. Accepting this thesis means to claim our own imperfection. While building a global society, it leads us to acceptance of this alternative. An attempt to create imperfect society- the second best in comparison with an ideal one- this society will be able to improve continuously. It is an open society. This idea fascinates me.
Does not the term " open society" mean the society without values, society living in value chaos, the society accepting only consumption way of life? What is Christian about an open society? Do you know the state where such a society exists?
An open society with its values and conceptions stays on the other side as a closed society (Represented by regimes as fascism or communism). We can achieve an ideal by means of self-improvement. Awareness of disability to reach an ideal is a unifying Christian principle. Any Christians cannot proclaim that he has achieved an ideal. A man is only approaching to perfection. It is similar to an open society that is a main goal worth approaching. Many people are discouraged by fact that this society is an unreachable ideal. I suppose that consumption way of living is not connected with ideals and goals of an ideal society. An open society seeks restlessly for better. Consumption life is only a development phase, which the society must go through in order to learn that something perfect exists. Based on all these reasons, there does not exist a state in the world, where the principles of an open society would be perfect. Let me point out that we are talking about an ideal society towards which we are approaching by reflecting on mistakes we have already done.
You support the idea of an open society in both speaking and writing. We have already mentioned your book " Struggle for an open society" where you describe its ideals. Isn't the conception of an open society only an illusion in terms of Slovakia?
Of course, an open society is an ideal. It does not give us the answers for all the questions, but it helps us to observe indispensable ethical values in the changing world at a particular level. Accepting this conception of an open society means to give up the monopoly of fallibility. Our Slovak society could approach the ideals only if Slovak political representatives preferred public interests to their individual interests. Confession of their own fallibility automatically generates reflexivity in people's acting. Reflexivity enables people to improve and generally means an attempt to correct their own confessed mistakes.
Can the principle of reflexivity be applied to diplomacy?
It is well-formulated question, but the answer is very complicated. Mistakes in diplomacy can lead to inevitable processes. George Soros examined the principle of reflexivity for keeping unstable balance in financial markets. If we include diplomacy in the system of activities where it is necessary to keep "Unstable balance," then the reflexivity is suitable for finding its solutions. Henry Kissinger named the principle of reflexivity in diplomacy as " step by step solutions." That is the art of diplomacy.
Diplomacy is very often connected with hiding the real facts and realities. What is the main task of diplomacy? What role does an ambassador play there?
There exists honour diplomacy and I am its supporter. In diplomacy, an ambassador also handles with confidential information that cannot be brought to public. In such cases honest retreat exists there together with a statement: " I am not competent to answer these questions. " Modern diplomacy takes this apology for granted. The main responsibility of each ambassador is to represent the country so that he cannot afford to look as a liar at all.
How would you describe a patriot? Are there any reasons for Slovak people to be proud of themselves and their country?
A patriot loves its country and is sensitive to similar feelings of other representatives of the nation. Slovaks had not had their own state for centuries. Many nations not having they own state disappeared. Slovaks survived. Isn't it the reason for the pride?
In June 1998, you were nominated for a presidential post as a representative of SDK (Slovak Democratic Union). Why did you decide to candidate?
It was an unusual challenge. The offer of SDK was fair because I was told straight away that it was going to be fiasco. Therefore, I knew in advance that the members of parliament would not be able to elect myself. Absence of democratic values was evident and I understood this offer as a democratic principle, claimed in the constitution of the Slovak republic. The opportunity to demonstrate in parliament legal democratic process. I wanted to take an advantage of this situation and in my speech in parliament express my civil attitudes, worry for the development of political situation in Slovakia, and find some solutions.
You were a chairman of Slovak Helsinki Committee. What are the main goals of this committee? Is it successful in defending rights of the injured?
National Helsinki Committees were established after the approval of Final Document about human rights protection in Helsinki (1975). These committees should monitor following the processes of Helsinki. In former Czechoslovak Federal republic, there were many problems. Nevertheless, surprising was that after changing political system and republic separation the cases of human rights violation increased. Nowadays apart From Slovak Helsinki Committee, there exist many civil institutions defending human rights. I think the situation has improved.
After returning from diplomatic services you wrote a book with a significant title " Hungarians under magnifying glass" (VEDA publishing, 2003). In this book, you are looking for the answers and reasons for different evaluation of our common history in the former Hungarian Kingdom. You claim that Hungarians suffer from their complex of greatness. By the statement that many believe that "´is´ means ´used to be´," you hit the spot. Therefore, you give a mirror to past and contemporary government representatives of Hungary. Aren't you afraid of tough reactions?
We returned to the problem of reflexivity. I do not dare to proclaim that what are have written about Hungarians is true. I hope my observations and descriptions of open topics, dating back to history at least approached to the questions molesting Slovak-Hungarian relationships. This book is really a mirror and different points of view on existing problems from both sides of the frontiers should have been complementary and under reflexivity. I have already gained the first reactions and I am glad they are more rational than denounced. Anyway, I recommend reading this book with an open mind and without bias.
It is not a secret that you are a religious Christian. You have never denied your spiritual dimensions for the past years. What gives you your faith?
First, I would say what is not a faith to me. It is not an escape from reality, or a jump to the darkness. For me it is a source in my thinking and acting. Every day it is a beneficial energy. Believing in God as alive and personal entity enables me to systematically work and form lifelong style. I consult my existence with God. Who says it could not work has never tried it yet. Anyway, a principle of reflexivity works in Christianity as well. A man can get better only if he confesses his guilt and mistakes.
Through the telescope to a development of the region and a taxation for the state
Thanks to Ukraine, Slovakia has the biggest astronomical telescope in a ring of 1000 kilometres. In the „outer“ east of Slovakia is originating the unique astronomical and educational centre. Will the Slovak state and autonomous officers help not only verbally, but also financially? Its time to pay more attention and support to projects of tourist trade development, which can decrease unemployment and fulfil a state or regional treasures. How long will the bureaucrats rely only on grants?
It is 13th of November 1986. On Kolonicke Sedlo, which is set on the interface of Vihorlat mountain range and Bukovske hills between the regions KOLONICA and LADOMIROV on north-east of Slovakia (around 8 KM from Slovak-Ukrainian border) a group of astronomy enthusiasts gets off. They have a mobile telescope with them to study the interesting phenomenon in the altitude of 600 metres - the transition Mercury through disc of the Sun. In that day they were ideal conditions for this study - opened horizon and just a little of the lateral lights. One month later the same group of enthusiasts is putting the first bases for building-up an astronomical observation post, the next astronomical observatory. After next 16 years, in May 2002 was put in operation the Vihorlat national telescope, the biggest astronomical telescope in Slovakia and in the ring of 1000 KM with a diameter of its main mirror of 1 metre. Opposite to the telescope in High Tatras this mirror is about 40 centimetres bigger.
In estimated value 15 million crowns it was generated by renowned astronomical observatory in Ukrainian Odessa. It is a south astronomy centre, in which work 120 people. It is specialized on the research of variable stars changing their luminosity during a certain time period.
They originally ordered an 80-centimetre telescope
In this observatory, have studied and graduated his scientific research students post, RNDR. IGOR KUDZEJ, CSC, the initiator of a building-up the KOLONICKEHO astronomical observatory and a long-standing manager of Vihorlat observatory in Humenne which is the second oldest public observatory in Slovakia (1952).
„Our observatory was originated on a green meadow. We erected it progressively and in the first years self-supported. According to my studies and good relationships with the experts in Odessa, we initially ordered the telescope with 80 centimetres diameter of the mirror. The colleagues from Odessa have worked-out the project and started with setting-out its production.. But there were a big problem - we had not had money. We were in a period of a transformation of the culture from regional cultural centres under regional authorities and promised investments for buying a telescope were irretrievably gone. We are a contributory organisation, and our basic activities are astronomical researches, lectures, propagation of the astronomy, and not activities connected to seeking financial sources. In addition, at that time we suffered the period of prolonged reform of state and public administration. There were any money and we had literally existentional problems,“ says the Director of the observatory, which is involved in scientific programmes and projects studying the activity of the Sun photosphere, interpositions of stars by the Moon and Planets, studying interpositional and physical variables of stars, meteors and comets.. Every visitant is allowed to study the Sun, Moon, and diffusive, stellar and galactic planets telescopically.
„We were in a difficult situation. And then Ukrainians did big and unexpected gesture. They offered us their big telescope with 1 metre diameter of the main mirror, which they had in examinational operation in Odessa soon after finishing it. First, they wanted to donate us the telescope, but when they found out, that we have any money to pay a big tax from donation, they decided to sign a Contract of Scientific and Technological Co-operation. On its bases they rent us this unique telescope for free.. If not this contract Slovakia wouldn’t have such telescope. It was a unique opportunity,“ explains I.KUDZEJ. When he thoughtfully scorched his aromatic Danish tobacco in his tobacco-pipe, he continued:
„After signing this contract we have established a non-invested fund „Telescope“ and organised a collection in the region for progressive transport and installation of the telescope from Odessa. The whole process lasted two and half year. As it was in an examinational operation, it had to be at first disassembled to the individual elements, transport and repeatedly assemble.“
Transport of a disassembled parts of 4,2 ton of the weight of telescope consisted from six periods. Its first periods, the base, the cradle, the corrector of geographical width and examinational concrete mirror (spin) were in 1300 kilometres distant Odessa charged in May 2000. Main parts - the tube, the general mirror, the additional optics, the balancing machinery and the electronic in December 2000.
Galicia - different Spain
During its interesting history, this region gave the whole world a few interesting personalities. For instance, Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Francisco Franco, Spanish fascistic politician, who influenced development not only in Spain but also in Europe, had their roots there.
When we mention Spain, most of us will picture bullfights, passionate rhythms of flamenco or noisy fiestas in night streets in our minds. The Spanish Kingdom is huge. It consists of 17 regions (regiones) divided into provinces, spreading on over 500 thousand square kilometres. No wonder that there are many natural, cultural, social as well as language differences between its individual parts. The most spoken language is Castilian (i.e. Spanish), then Catalonian (the mother tongue in Catalonia) and Basks´ language, another language is spoken in Galicia which I have visited recently.
Surrounding nature in this area situated in the farthest west of the Kingdom reminds me more of Ireland than Spain. Rampant verdure covers smaller hills with valleys crossed by many streams of rivers. Above the country, there is always mist and air humidity can be felt with every single breath. From time to time, palms and other big-leafed plants disturb impression of being in St.Patrick´s country. Remarkable, extraordinary warm rainy weather gives this place strange taste of mystery which is exaggerated by plenty of stone buildings in towns and villages of Galicia.
Museion rises from the ashes
The complex of Biblioteca Alexandrina. A dream of resurrection of past glory and glamour of Alexandria, an ancient city also called another Athens, continues. The authors of the project for renewing a famous ancient library of Ptolemaios set their main goals of spreading education in Egypt where illiteracy reaches 40 per cent.
The stone terrace of the medieval fortress Qait Bay on the island of Faros provides us with a picturesque view over the whole Alexandria. By the year 1326 - destroying earthquake, there had been standing a legendary, 110-metre-high lighthouse, which was built by the king Ptolemaios II. It belonged to Seven Wonders of the World. Alexandria, a city of 6 million inhabitants, Egyptians called the pearl of the Mediterranean Sea as long as a human race can remember. The lighthouse was not the only giant building in this city; it was also the biggest ancient library called Museion, the pride of Egyptian pharaohs.
This ancient town was founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BC and after his death, it became the centre of Egypt. It flourished mostly in the Hellenistic era, when Cleopatra committed suicide. Alexandria always competed with Rome or Carthage. There was something that couldn’t be find in a single town of that period- thanks to Museion all the knowledge of ancient times was on papyrus rolls under one roof.
The city of Humenne is connected to businessmen
For building-up an infrastructure of industrial park in Guttmanov assisted the taxpayers of the EU with more then 1,3 million Euros. They are building it near to a successful Industrial zone Chemes, in which have been already seven subjects having a business with a foreign interest-from Denmark, French, Germany and Italy.
THE CENTRE OF HORNÝ ZEMPLÍN, THE TOWN HUMENNÉ (40 000 INHABITANTS), WHICH IS SPREAD ON A SIGNIFICANT COMMERCIAL ROAD, WHICH ONCE CONNECTED UNGRIA, POLAND AND UKRAINE, WANTS TO ATTRACT MORE FOREIGN INVESTORS TO ITS REGION. THANKS TO THE MANAGEMENT APPROACH AND A CORRECT CO-OPERATION WITH BUSINESS TEAMS IN THE INDUSTRIAL ZONE CHEMES, THE CITY MANAGEMENT HAVE MANAGED TO FIND THREE NEW LOCALITIES FOR THE FOREIGN INVESTORS. THEY ARE NEAR TO ALREADY EXISTING INDUSTRIAL ZONE. ONE OF THEM, CALLED THE INDUSTRIAL PARK GUTTMANOVO, WAS SUPPORTED ALSO BY THE EUROPEAN UNION THROUGH THE FUND PHARE. THE TECHNICAL INFRASTRUCTURE OF CONSTRUCTED INDUSTRIAL PARK IS SUPPORTED BY 1,384 MILLIONS EUROS.
Return of the Dinosaurs
Within sounded and moving exposed models, the only representative of carnivorous dinosaurs calls its attention - it is Tyrannosaur Rex. At that time the biggest terrestrial predator which reached the six metres of height. It had a massive cranium and strong mandibles with 15 centimetres teeth.
From the 1st of February in the gallery of shopping centre Optima in Košice will be peculiarly busy. Seven massive and elegant vegetarian Dinosaurs, Mesozoic animals which lived from 150 to 65 millions of years ago, reminding the children, juveniles and adults the age and the environment which they lived in, within the scope of the unique and exclusive exhibition called ' The return of the Dinosaurs', would visit Slovakia for the first time.
These Dinosaurs came from London and together with their families are set in the jungle of measure 900 quadratic metres. But they are not alive. They are robotized models in their life size whose individual parts the technicians have been stacking together for two weeks. Thanks to computers and air-conditioning the individual metallic frameworks (made in Japan) can do up to 10 movements together - breath, eat, shake their heads, move their tails, legs, necks and at the same time utter their typical sounds…
If you want to look at them more carefully, you have to go over 5 metres long tunnel, which divides the exhibition from a little cinema. In this cinema you can see the animated and sounded seven minute film about the genesis (birth, formation) of the life on the Earth. Warning, don't be scared! During the exhibition the sounds of jungle are disturbed by Mesozoic storm whereat explodes a volcano in ten minutes period.
A crisis of political parties or a crisis of party politics?
Disorientation and impotence reflected in many party lines of Slovak political parties are in the background of the fact that Slovakia has not passed a consensual and respected document about its future and ways Slovakia would like to follow in order to reach its visions.
The only solution for this crisis of parliamentary system is to return back to approved principles, on which European parties having long traditions and significant participation in European integration, created and developed. In other words-, it is necessary to start again from square one. Slovak political parties will have to move back to their original reasonable objectives.
It means to realise the basic objectives of political parties: to create ideas, to pursue them into a real life, to achieve a political consensus and thus avoid conflicts. It should also serve as a base for formulating of a will useful mutually and socially that can be pursued by all democratic means. It will guarantee a positive development of the whole society.
Do we want Europe, the temple of the spirit, or Europe, the stock exchange of a mammon?
Slovak political parties have any bright vision about how should a future of Slovakia in European Union look like. They imagine that Brussels will decide, Strasburg will ratify and they will only operate these decisions in Slovakia.
Euphoria which is overcoming Slovakia at the entry into the European Union and NATO is similar to enthusiasm, with which were once built socialists Five Year Plans, was accepted normalisation or execrated treacherous emigration or "the Charter' 77". If the totalitarian regime of public democracy obstructed all discussions from the position of power, contemporary regime of Slovak democracy doesn't allow practically any normal discussion to the theme of our integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures. Slovak society is faced to completed thing: "Extra Europa non est vita, et si est, non est ita".
The aim of little nations in Euro-Atlantic structures is reduced to the position of statisticians who, within the frame of entry proceedings, have the only privilege: forerun the other states in being up to standard of conditions at arranging the agreements...
As well as the 1st Slovak Republic, neither 2nd Slovak Republic can exist regardless of its geopolitical coordinates and its economic potential, which define, that Slovakia must be the same in all configurations where also its neighbour states are. Forasmuch as on neutrality providing a political independence we have neither motion, neither currency, neither resources, so if we want to survive as long as it is possible as an independent nation, we can not non-integrate, what means to resign a significant part of the state independence.
I miss the clear conception of future
Maybe apart from SNS, other coalition and also opposition political subjects, which in Slovakia offer their programs to the voters, decline integration of Slovakia to euro-Atlantic structures within all the cases. In none of them we indeed don't get to know what's their concrete conception of future of Slovakia and its inhabitants in the European Union, pertinently in NATO. They misguide sinfully when they put the final sign of equation between EU and NATO.
A woman and her ideal model
Slovak society is still conservative enough and accepts very hard a different model of an ideal woman as a mother bringing up the children in marriage. Many researches and surveys concerning incomplete families can prove this fact. A failure of a marital model does not automatically mean a failure of a maternity model.
I always observed that the marital status played a very important role in Slovak society. According to statistics, 90 per cent of inhabitants have married at least once. Marriage is considered to be not only the social duty but also absolute success in the entire life especially for women. Marriage in its clearest form is characterised as being parents. From this point of view, the particular model of a woman is used and woman's values are arranged according to it.
This imaginary hierarchy gives the first place to a married woman and mother. The second and highly praised place belongs to a married woman not having any children, to a widow with children or a widow without children. If a woman is a single mother, its position is not praised but she is accepted due to her motherhood. In case of divorced mothers it seems as if the critical argument about their disability to keep their marriage working were more important than their privilege of being a mother. Single mothers or women without children are somewhere on the periphery. This hierarchy was always mentioned and even emphasised in all the interviews I conducted during my social-anthropological research about " incomplete families in Slovakia. "
What is social anthropology?
Social anthropology is one of social studies. It is specific but neither connected with the origin of society studied (Traditional societies that could be put into contrast with modern societies.) nor particular " subjects" (such as religion, economy, politics, city, etc.) nor with specific theories (such as Marxism, structuralism, functionalism or their interconnections). It deals with the only project: the analysis of a human being as a whole, i.e. coming from all societies, different longitudes, in various forms, and in various periods of time.
This research of a human being is inseparable from its essential method: apart from abstract, speculative and general reflection on a human, it is a direct observation of social behaviour winding up from a human relationship. In this way, it is very important to get along very well with a group we want to analyse. One must share their existence with them.
Wedding at any costs?
MIRO Gallery celebrates its 10th anniversary
PTIT: Since 2002, a European Prize Trebbia has awarded entrepreneurial entities and creators for their support of art. Apart from expositions the gallery also deals with publishing original books written by Czech, Slovak authors. Moreover, it supports fine artists mostly by means of MIRO foundation.
Ten years of MIRO, an international gallery (Berlin, Prague, Bratislava, Snina) is the significant evidence of fact that exhibition conceptions and management skills of its founder, Miro Smolák and his brother have overcome all obstructions. In addition, the gallery has become famous in the world of culture. Systematic introduction of masterpieces in world of art dating back to the 20th century (Picasso, Dalí, Braque, Miró and many others) and introduction of many native artists (Galanda, Majerník, Kern, etc.) guarantee the gallery its prominent position in the Czech republic an in Slovakia.
Fine Art Festival of Snina together with its painters plenary meetings, which have gone through 10 successful years, became world- famous. Plenty of artists from all over the world took part in it; many painters participated in painting of the 655- metre- long picture or in the project: " Paint your own butterfly". The idea of creating the Gallery of Monumental Sculpturing in the open air has been created here as well. It can be already represented by the sculpture of Honey Old Woman.
A great contribution to the gallery is an annual systematic attempt to issue picture vouchers of Miro suitable as a gift for institutions and private individuals. In the particular issues of catalogues, there are high-quality reproductions offered there.
Apart from exhibitions the gallery deals with publication of books written by Czech, Slovak authors and it supports fine artists by means of MIRO foundation.
Since the year 2002, a European Prize Trebbia has been awarding entrepreneurial entities and creators for support of art. At its fourth representative ball, which took place not in Žofín in Prague this year, but in Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra-Reduta, Trebbia awards were given to: a bronze statue of Trebbia and a diploma won ŽS Brno, a.s. (Juraj Jakubisko gave an award and diploma to Ing.M. Štefl, General Manager of ŽS Brno.), the second statue of Trebbia and a diploma went to Miro Vošiar, an entrepreneur from Prague. Cornel Boda, a last year laureate, General Manager of Cobra company, s.r.o. Prague gave him his award. The third statue, a diploma for creativity got Prof.PhDr. Miroslav Klivar, CSc. from Prague. He was also given an amount of 100 thousand Czech crowns. Ladislav Ballek, Slovak ambassador in the Czech republic gave him his awards.
A non-professional photographer, native from Vranov nad Toplou (1967). He is specialized at landscape photography. Cross-section of his actual picture-making have become the ground for his first exposition called „Krajinne zastavenia“ (A Landscape Setbacks), which would be accessible for public on 20th of February 2004 in „Dom umenia Podtatranského osvetového centra“ (House of the Arts of Educational Centre) in Spisská Sobota. Within the frame of the exposition can photograph lovers review authors’ setbacks at Spis, Saris, High Tatras and Pieniny, pertinently savour a poetry of water and skies by his eyes. “These setbacks come into existence spontaneously. There aren’t any arranged photographs. They came into existence in certain time and record the most common places in a landscape in their various transformations, versions and tones.
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