February 2005

Do we ally with the USA or with the EU?
Will the knowledge-based economy stop the decline of universities?
What is the source of this energy?
Do you regret about being a member of parliament?
Which specification would you like to be a personal grant of?
What was Minister’s reaction like?
Are you against the implementation of fees?
Why do you consider the Law of Student Loans as a camouflage?
What are the pillars of economic politics Smer want to pursue?
What will Bush and Putin agree on?
A Tale of Bin- Laden
Is Putin another Mussolini?
Loyalty of Texas
Putin´s phenomenon
Poles know Slovakia better than Slovaks know Poland
Your Excellency, can you be more precise?
What is your idea of the concrete cooperation of V-4?
Do you know Slovakia very well?
Magnificent amphitheatre in Pula
Computers and televisions ground in Slovenská Ľupča
Slovakia is able to improve electro-waste
Materials will be ground to 100 mm in the mill
The Hotel Lux- your home on your travels
Water quality is alarming in the region of Prešov
Let’s go to the world of witches and wizards
Tradition of Foreign Relations balls in Reduta
Association of Students and Graduates from UMV a AP
It was worth to be stubborn
You are full of energy and you look very good. What is your secret?

Do we ally with the USA or with the EU?
Robert Schuman, French Christian Democrat, a father of Europe once said: ´Europe mustn’t be a sphere of influence and exploiting, providing any political, military or economical supremacy. ´ These words just emerged in my mind while I was thinking about the sense of Bush’s visit in Europe and his theatre performance with Putin that will take place in Bratislava. All Slovak politicians nearly filled their pants from fear. Some of them behave like teenagers whom Uncle Sam has finally bought a hamburger and some Coke to get rid of them ´cause they’ve been bothering him and licking his boots for such a long time begging for a little treat as a reward for their devotion…
Another group of Slovak politicians is pretty shocked unable to say a single word during the informal rehearsal before landing the Air Force One at the reserve airport of Austrian Airlines in Bratislava. What about? For example whether Slovakia as a member of the EU is still the ally with the USA and in which areas of politics we must or must not be obedient to this ´ Empire´ dependent on European immigrants.
Not a single member of our Slovak- Hungarian government is able to present Slovak transparent politics against the USA and the EU. From political marketing point of view, they have an extraordinary opportunity (When if not now) because ´ Father of the World´ will arrive in Slovakia for the first time? However, Prime Minister is talking about a kind of friendship between him and G.Bush but he doesn’t dare define it in details. Are jogging and cycling the things that brought them together? Or is it belief in God or Christian democratic politics? Pál Csáky is reticent, too. He is another Christian democrat and unofficial Prime Minister of Slovak Hungarians as well as a person responsible for the integration of Slovakia in the European Union. Other ministers are pleased about being ministers and that is probably all. Show me the Slovak who would understand what they are talking about and what they should say to the nation? They all are reticent, MPs and President. What a shame we could not go for a training in the spa town of Bled in 2001 to take any notice of small nations sense for dignity, national freedom and independence during the first summit Bush-Putin in the neutral country. Although American President claims he believes in God, we cannot expect an appropriate answer for the question whether the USA pursues Christian democratic politics or social solidarity. He has no counsellors for this issue and he might not probably understand the question. Moreover, it is only allowed to whisper about this issue in the USA because for the past decades, Jewish script writers of Hollywood have been creating hits, i.e. ´characterless and rubbish series and films´, Holocaust, Modern Nazis wanting to destroy the USA or to steal its monetary reserves in New York or Islamic terrorists… Who, apart from media, is forming public opinion of us- modern serfs of globalization and victims of brain- washing culture? Isn’t it Hollywood that does not have any competitors all over the world?
In the name of oil and inability to finish a 50-year-old war in the Middle East George Bush divided Europe into two parts- Old and New. He makes Old Europe ridiculous, especially France because they stood against the invasion and penetration of American pseudo-culture to Europe. New Europe, including Slovakia, is praised for its flattery, appeasement and being a faithful student of American economic attempts on people. How much did Slovakia invest in American wars with Serbia and Monte Negro, Iraq, Afghanistan and how much did Slovakia gain? Have these war brought more intensive feeling of safety and higher standard of living? How do Serbs, Iraqis and Afghans perceive us? Do they consider us as their friends or as mercenaries serving another country?
On one hand, the World Bank evaluates the reforms of the Slovak republic, but on the other hand, the European Union criticises poverty and regional differences in Slovakia. Brussels is talking about Lisbon Strategy and social economic politics, investments to the culture and education, our right-winged government says we have no money for it and we won’t have it anyway. .. So, our politicians are not able to talk about Bush’s politics (Media use various political experts instead), they are not able to talk about European politics and how they can influence it. Slovak politics, stays with its thinking behind its neighbours, it should be national, pro-European and neutral against American politics. Neutral because Slovaks do not have a single chance to influence economic, social and cultural development in the USA, They cannot travel and work where they want. They are allowed to do it in Slovakia and in the EU.
Robert Matejovic, M.A.
Editor in Chief

Will the knowledge-based economy stop the decline of universities?
´All reforms are being implemented without specialists’ involvement. They are suitable only for strong lobbying and investment groups. Their goal is not to solve the real problem in the branches of national economy but to capture public funds and subordinate them, ´claims Milan Murgaš, an economist and a rector at University of Matej Bell.

He has been a rector at University of Matej Bell since June 2000. In 2002, he was elected a Member of Parliament for the Smer Party. He works for a Committee for Finances, Budget and Currency; he is a member of permanent delegation at the West European Union. He worked as a rector without being paid for it. Although he was born in Banská Bystrica, his predecessors come from Macedonia, which they left in the 16th century. He is proud of a museum of Jozef Murgaš in Tajov near Banská Bystrica. He was his most famous predecessor, a Catholic priest, inventor of wireless telegraph and the author of thirteen patents. He is described as a demanding career man and individualist, he is blamed for his communistic past. Other people appreciate his professionalism and managerial skills. Doc. Ing. Milan Murgaš, CSc. is a symbol of successful development of university; he used to be responsible for in the years 1996- 2000 as a vice-rector for development.

Mr Murgaš, it is known that you can play the fujara. When did you last play this musical instrument?
It was at the meeting with my friends at Christmas. I also have my fujara (i.e. a wooden musical instrument adorned with carved floral ornaments, played vertically) in the Parliament. I play it when we have very difficult negotiations and I want to feel relaxed. There is often negative energy in the parliament.

What is the source of this energy?
MPs very often forget they have to solve citizens’ problems and not their personal interests or interests of lobbying groups. I am an economist, I work with facts. I can hardly accept disinformation the parliament very often works with. They state some reasons of no value; they only say something because it is necessary to say something… Reality is distorted. What is even sadder is that many conclusions are reached based on these distorted facts. Many law proposals proposed in the parliament have no result. The law will not take effect, it is necessary to change it because everything has been done very quickly. I am a rational man so I feel very frustrated when there is a lot of time wasted for issues that will not help people. I am disappointed but the rules of democracy are clearly set – coalition governs only if it has majority and the opposition depends on the number of mandates. The situation in Slovakia is very odd. Neither coalition nor opposition have majority and those not representing any political party or agenda make decisions concerning various laws. The worst of all is that the coalition hardly every makes an agreement with an opposition.

Do you regret about being a member of parliament?
No, I do not. It is very good experience for me, although sometimes very tough. I was given 59,000 preferential votes in the election, I feel obliged. I want to carry on working, submitting proposals and pursuing changes as an oppositional member of the parliament. The issue is the political culture. If the opposition submits a proposal good for most citizens, coalition automatically sweeps it off the table. Informally, the coalition MPs claim that the proposal is very good but they cannot support it because the precedence would occur. I am convinced that any submitted proposal, which is not against the government agenda, should not be labelled as opposition ones.

You have already proposed some law proposals in your Committee? Which ones?
I have already submitted some proposals in the Committee and in the plenum of the National Parliament of the Slovak Republic. Unfortunately, I must say I succeeded only once. The proposal dealt with the discrimination of non-state educational institutions.

You have applied for a title of University professor. What is leading you?
I started the career of a university teacher and despite my managerial posts, I did not stop teaching. I lectured in economy of health care and health care management at university and as a hosting professor abroad. Titles are still much more important than skills in Slovakia. Due to accreditation of new subjects and specializations I sent my enrolment form and sent it to Faculty of Economy in Bratislava, I started preparing for an inauguration lecture.

Which specification would you like to be a personal grant of?
It is a programme of healthcare economy. It is the special subject within Slovakia and it is very important from Slovak health care reforms point of view.

You are a rector of a university that is not in debt. How did you manage to achieve it?
It is not the only university which showed equal and reasonable financing in 2004. We had to realize many unpopular and unpleasant precautions. We are the only university having the marketing strategy elaborated. Financing strategy is included. It follows our activities in detail. We watch every single crown. We managed to solve energy and heating costs what is one of the basic problems of Slovak universities. We conducted an energetic audit that showed us where to save the energy and thus decrease our costs.
We also pay attention to increase our employee’s performance. We have re- evaluated performance parameters and the budget of each faculty (based on a performance model) for a few times. Each faculty will get funds according to performances. We strictly watch two parameters. First is performance from students, grants and research point of view. The second is of costs. As soon as we see it approaches towards performance divergence comparing to costs, we pass appropriate precautions. It is very demanding because you always tread on someone’s leg.

How do you solve this issue? Do you make salaries lower or do you make your employee redundant?
A manager is paid for management and motivations of the people. I do not fancy managers who flow downstream and want to be loved by their subordinates. The manager should be a visionary and a leading personality. Our people do not like to take up a leader post; they do not like to take responsibility.

In 2003 you instituted a process in law against Martin Fronc, the Minister of Education. He might have done harm to university reputation as he had claimed that the Faculty of Law had collected fees from external students. You appealed Minister to prove his statements and apologise. However, you withdrew it during Christmas holiday. Why?
As a manager you are not allowed to be impressed by your feeling. On the other side, managers are humans. I was a human and moreover being influenced by the festival season of good will people, I ordered to withdraw the prosecution.

What was Minister’s reaction like?
He accepted that the whole case was over. Our university has too much to do. There will be no time to go back to it.

As it is know, Minister insists on his statements and is determined to continue in the case of the Faculty of Law…
I can only repeat what I have already said a few times: the Faculty of Law did not, is not and will not break any laws. I have no information about any sanctions imposed against the faculty.

In 1999, you were member of the team that elaborated the conception of universities. Do the universities have a real autonomy or are they still influenced by impacts of the political parties for example by the minister of education:
No. They do not. According to the agreement, university will give specialists their subject and the specialists will participate on pedagogical and research activities at university. Apart from the specializations and subjects, our university cooperates with some other organizations. We cooperated with the Institute for Public Issues regarding the conflict with the Ministry of Education in case of illegal collection of fees for an external form of study at the Faculty of Law.

In the work team operating at the Ministry of Education, you got involved in the issues of management and financing. This team elaborated the conception of university development for the 21st century. First, Dzurinda government approved this conception without clarifying fund sources of universities. Current government was to solve this issue by implementing frees fro studies. Do you agree with it?
Fees implementation cannot stop the decline of universities that is still continuing. Universities are financially underestimated, it is impossible to do outstanding science or training for such a small amount of money. Teachers of high quality are not the only criterion of having excellent students. There must be money available for libraries, training digitalization, and salaries for experience lecturer, i.e. people from practice who as successful specialists could organize their lectures and thus create the connection between the theory and the practice. Many of people working at the universities have not moved from there since they graduated. It is very risky as they have been isolated from real life, they might be not able to adopt contemporary labour market. In the European Union a new common space for students and research, we still ignore it in Slovakia.

You were alarming because of the financial underestimation of universities four years ago. What are you doing now?
The decline will continue, it is fatal for Slovakia, However, we have two advantages- we are in the centre of Europe and we still have enough people with university education. Nevertheless, we are not able to provide new professions up to the required extend.

What do you suggest?
Political elites have to understand what the knowledge-based economy is. Human capital is the most decisive. It seems the elites of a new era are not able to understand this issue. Some representatives understand it more some less. They did not reach an agreement with the fact that knowledge- based economy and qualified work force move this world ahead. We occurred in a very paradox situation. All we sorted out in the conception; it has only remained as a file of wishful ambitions.
Neither the first nor the second Dzurinda government accepted this conception from the financial point of view. Nowadays, we are at the end within the EU in terms of university costs and GDP ratio...

Your university depends on the funds coming from the state budget or use possibilities within the multi-funds financing?
If we had to rely on the state budget, we would have to close the university. We do not cry; we try to find some other funds of sources and the possibilities within grants and international cooperation. Our university gains 25 per cent finances from non- budget sources. We have faculties able to provide sources for 50 per cent. It is not possible to eliminate the university malnutrition only from these funds… I’ll give you one example. UMB has 15,600 students and 1,600 employees. We receive 400,000 million crowns every year. Imperial College of Science in England has 9,000 students, 6,000 employees and they get 320,000 million pounds from a state treasury… Can you imagine a running competition in which the Slovak runner’s legs would be tied up although he had enough power to compete the British runner and then he would be told – run? Is this the competitiveness of the Slovak universities?

Are you against the implementation of fees?
It is an artificially created idea that fees will solve our problems. It is not true. It is the other way round, this solution suggest a risk of lowering the costs for schools by the government. Slovakia radically needs to increase costs.
I do not understand those who are so easily influenced by demagogy and arguments of an axiom economist. Those people suggest that the best schools are private schools where you have to pay for your study. We should say the truth about the budget of private schools abroad. The proposal for students loans wants to minimize the differences between public and private universities from based on the financing of public funds. I do not know the country where private universities will be equalled with public universities in terms of the budget. The law of Students Loans is not a solution for a significant improvement of financing of universities. It is kind of camouflage.

Why do you consider the Law of Student Loans as a camouflage?
It creates an impression that the fees will improve bad situation of universities what is not truth. If the law passes, the government might decrease university costs aiming to save more public funds within ´ the strategy of thoughtless and very fast´ hurrying up to the Euro zone.

You worked on the conception of the economic politics of the Smer party; you were a vice-president for economy for a particular time. This programme is being criticized by right-winged politicians. They consider it socialistic and claim its main aim is nationalization and a new re-privatization of former state monopoles.
Every economic politics must be based on reality and each of them must be effective as far as it corresponds with the reality. Economic policy has its rules and principles, it is not the field of human activities where the random processes and Minister’s enlightening. It is more very punctual and detailed work where the result cannot be guaranteed in advance. More objective the result is; the more people work on it. Those people have enough information, knowledge and experience so their presumption that an effective economic politics is much higher. The essential conflict between the coalition and the Smer party: we support the opinion about economical politics to be useful for most of the people in our society. While, on the other hand, contemporary government prefers only few rich people and occurs in a very bad position. An average citizen will save his money from income tax but on the other hand an increased rate of VAT made them pay more for basic goods and services.
The citizens having higher income can perceive lowered income tax as an advantage. Classical right politics cause many problems to middle class that has not time to develop. It is not a satisfactory trend because the state works only if it is able to create the same conditions for all people in the field of economic politics in order to prevent poverty. Our goal cannot be a huge gap between rich and poor, or between less wealthy and very poor citizens.

What are the pillars of economic politics Smer want to pursue?
Economic science is sexless, it is neither homosexual nor heterosexual; right-winged nor left- winged. It has its categories and cognition tools. It is based on objective reality. I do not agree with labelling. What isn’t Great Britain rushing into the European currency union? Neither labours nor conservatives because they both see many serious problems and consequences for the state economy and citizens standard of living. Our government should be interested in benefits of everybody and not only of a small group. This goal should not be accompanied by doubtful glory of reforms and new work opportunities in international institutions. Unfortunately, it is so. British Prime Minister would never dare present such an attitude. Citizens would not let him.

Are there any specialists for national economy in Slovakia? If so, why are they silent?
Let’s look at this problem from two different points of view: Slovakia has enough economist specialized on national economy and political elites are interested in them; then whether political elites are interested in using them. In the first case the answer is yes, in the second no. All reforms are being implemented without specialists’ involvement. They are suitable only for strong lobbying and investment groups. Their goal is not to solve the real problem in the branches of national economy but to capture public funds and subordinate them to private groups.

Minister of Economy or many other state administrators often say that the state is a bad owner. What do you think about this expression?
If it is said by a constitutional authority that should pursue the states interests and specify the state he has in his mind. Slovakia sold many top quality firms to the foreign companies for ridiculous prices (regarding the income creation) and the still has a controlling stake in the firm. For instance, SPP (Slovenský plynárenský priemysel- Slovak Gas Industry) to Gas de France where France has a significant influence. In Sloval Telecom it is Germany, in distributional plants Electricté de France again France. Mr Rusko should be more precise what he meant. If the fact that the government has no control over economic politics in the state, Mr Rusko and the government should resign.

In terms of owner structure of banks, big companies and globalization, can we still talking about government or state economic politics?
If the state is and exist, no government should give up the economic politics in favour of a citizen. They can influence it effectively via taxes. If Slovakia had a consistent economic politics, we would not have been given away foreign investors so many millions. And our universities or sports, culture or art would not be somewhere at the end. It is all about the human potential and people’s ability to pursue the higher production with higher VAT. Post revolutionary Slovakia does not have a consistent economic politics related to world trends available. Our integration to the EU proved it as well. The theories that market will solve everything have been overcome. The market fails and the new effective economic politics must be implemented in order to eliminate and correct all shortcomings and imperfectness of the market.

Why did you become a candidate for the Chairman of the self-governing region of Banská Bystrica?
If one deals with management professionally, there are always some new challenges around. In April 2007 I will be finishing my post of a rector and I think I have enough experience to work in either private or political sector. The strongest challenge for me was that I was born in this region. And I think this region does not deserve the faith it has now, e.g. high unemployment rate, undeveloped infrastructure. I would like to carry out a few changes and use professional, industrial and natural potentials of the region to create better life.
I am not satisfied with the process of passing resolutions in our regional parliament. It seems a citizen is not on ht first place. The interests of a few people are pursued. They are powerful in the regional parliament; they are uninhibited against citizens and flexible in terms of their concerns. My philosophy is completely different- Do your best to citizens and not to yourself.

Castle of Kežmarok
EP It belongs to a special kind of so-called town castles. The first written mention of the castle can be dated back to the year 1463 and it is connected with the names of two Hungarian nobles- Imrich and Stephan Zápoľský. Leopold (1684- 1687), Caesar and Ferdinand Rueber (1687- 1702) were the last castle owners. In 1702, the free royal town of Kežmarok bought this luxurious renaissance castle as a private property. A new owner used it for various purposes -as a granary, workrooms, barracks, a hospital, a dungeon, and a warehouse. Partisans and civilians were arrested there during the Second World War In September 1944; German soldiers shot twenty people in the Castle Chapel. The overall reconstruction was being done between the years 1962 and 1985.

What will Bush and Putin agree on?
They are concerned with Yukos and its future and about the future trade of oil, terrorists-hunting and the means of strengthening, spreading and protection of their power. It will be their first official visit in the Slovak republic.

On 23rd and 25th February 2005, the summit of American and Russian Presidents will be held in Bratislava, in the capital of the Slovak Republic that is still described as a poor and unknown country in the world. George Bush, a world exporter of American kind of freedom, will arrive in Slovakia after having business supper with J. Chirac, French President in Brussels and his visit in Berlin where he will try to create a new image of his oil clan and thus improve the relationship between the European Union and the USA. It is not sure how this summit might help Slovakia which will invest 205 million crowns in safety precautions and will invite 1000- 1500 foreign journalists. However, if M. Dzurinda, Prime Minister, I.Gašparovič, President and P.Hrušovský, Chairman of the Slovak Parliament made Bush and the USA cancel an unfair visa, it would be much greater success than our nave expectation of any positive presentation of Slovakia. It is not a fair organized for tourists but the summit of two rivals against whom terrorist are fighting and who want to set the condition of their future rivalry on a neutral scene.

A Tale of Bin- Laden
As it is well-known, George W. Bush, who faced crushing defeat in election in New York, and his (obligatory) faithful allies from so-called New Europe (e.g. Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine) have been searching in vain through Afghan caves and hole for the world terrorist leader Bin Laden for four years. Despite this hunting, Bin Laden- the world most wanted terrorist (American media created his image) is making up the other parts of his tale of terrorism. As usual, it is always broadcasted by Al-Dzazira from Qatar. It is a paradox that Americans have their strongest military base there. The CIA always proves the record is authentic and emphases danger of another terrorist attack. However, many people wonder why it does not happen in the USA. Current fathers of Hollywood should take any notice of this script and explain the audience why it is so demanding to find and catch Bin Laden. Might this skinny man wearing a beard have been inspired by Radko Mladič- a forest manikin?
Ordinary Europeans are not Americans desiring for either American tales or American way of life. They do not have a reason why to agree with an American intervention to Iraq without any mandate issued by the United Nations. They do not like the intervention during which no mass destruction armaments were found but moreover, the oil fields were captured and are being controlled. Slovaks also ask why they have to pay more for petrol and oil although they have nothing to do with this war. It is not their fault that the USA imports 70 % of oil from the other parts of the world. It is said that after establishment of a puppet government and first free election having been supervised by Americans, new good times have begun. It is disputable whether generous remission of Iraqi debts against the USA will help to decrease oil price in the world market. Let’s wait for the results of the summit in Bratislava and the strong winter in the north-east of the USA.

Is Putin another Mussolini?
History does not count many formal or informal summits of Russian and American leaders. Over past years, they mainly met at bigger events such as G8 summit or APEC. They regularly meet after official meetings of their countries. Bush and Putin met in another country just once- in Bleda in June 2001. At that time, they both declared they had a lot in common and they became closer as well. Three years after WTC destruction, the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, bomb attacks in Moscow, civilians and children having been killed in Beslan, after the referendum in Belarus and a presidential election in Ukraine, their mutual relationship is on a freezing point. At least, American media and their satellites in Europe claim it. One Slovak commentator wrote the following: ´Western politicians considered Putin as a sober version of Boris Yelcin for a long time. However, political experts, who are not in good relations with Russian President, reached the conclusion that Putin is a Russian version of Mussolini (Zbigniew Brzezinki) or a Russian version of Pinochet (Nicholas Kristof). According to them, Putin is not leading Russia to democracy and a free market but towards a dictatorship and state capitalism. In the country, in which Gorbachev and Yelcin did not use all the power, Russian president has been renewing centralism of Tsar and Bolshevik kind. He renews political control over economy that does not obviously mean nationalization, but ´only´ liquidation those unwilling to subordinate. In case of Yukos, the American administration cannot be as unperturbed as German government because not only Chodorkovski lost but American investors did as well. The Bush Administration sees that if demands and ambitions of Kremlin lose (as it last happened in case of Kiev where Western countries did not want the second Yalta and did not agree with Ukraine under Russian influence), so ´friend Vladimir´ will be talking in terms of Cold War. American President needs to find out whether Putin is still thinking this way.´

Loyalty of Texas
Moscow started talking about the summit in Bratislava. Sergey Lavron, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Alexei Gromov, Putin´s spokesman declared it. ´I do not know why President Putin has chosen Bratislava but President Bush has been talking about visiting Slovakia for a few years. Whenever he spoke to Mr Dzurinda, he always expressed his desire to visit this country. And now, he is coming,´ said Scott Thayer, American chargé d´affaires in Slovakia and adds: ´Every summit with Russians is very important. Bratislava is kind of a symbolic place. It suits both sides and it proves that Slovakia is in good relationships with both of them- the USA and Russia.´
´It will be a great day for the Slovak Republic and with a bit of sentiment, It will be my special day,´ said M. Dzurinda as he has already had a few meetings with President Bush and ´ I feel honoured to have a friendly relationship from his side.´ ´These summits usually take place in the countries where the both side feel comfortable, i.e. in the country with political stability,´ said Radek Sikorski, an expert for Central and East Europe from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. Sikorski was a state secretary of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the 1990s.
According to him, Slovakia fulfils all conditions so important to the USA. Washington appreciates that Slovakia has its troops in Iraq and is the only country who does not want to withdraw them. The White House noticed that Dzurinda is the first Prime Minister of the region who implemented many reforms and was elected again.
´Bush government has something like loyalty of Texas. He appreciated people who are not only his formal allies but also allies in need. Slovakia, within its opportunities, is that kind of country,´ Sikorski says.

Putin´s phenomenon
Russian President told the journalist what he intended to ask Bush in Bratislava. Whether the USA wants to isolate Russia. That is not all. What the Head of Kremlin said to media was only of a propagation character. Vladimir Putin clearly described what they will be discussing. As Eduard Lozansky, President of American University in Moscow said, there are two groups competing in Kremlin. According to the first one, the only way how to overcome the crisis of the 21st century is to create a warm mutual relationship with the USA. The second estimates that Russia is strong enough to start geopolitical fights with the USA. President Putin described the success of Russia in 2004 in the first part of his meeting with journalists. GNP increased by 7 per cent, export overcame import by 80 milliard dollars, its foreign exchange reserves reached the level that had never been achieved even in the former Soviet Union. A new confidence of Kremlin corresponding with these results will appear in both home and foreign policies. Vladimir Putin reminded both the journalists and the American experts that Russia and the USA are almost allies in fighting against the world terrorism, in weapon control and protection from spreading mass destruction armaments.
´I suppose just these issues will form the base of our relations with President Bush, and not short-term scandalous issues of tactical character,´ Russian President said.

Poles know Slovakia better than Slovaks know Poland
´It is rooted in our minds that our country was bordering the Hungarian Kingdom, i.e. Hungarians. Polish people hardly remember what Slovakia looked like before the First World War, ´ says Zenon Kosiniak- Kamysz, Polish ambassador in Slovakia.

He is a career diplomat. He arrived in Slovakia in 2003. He had worked in Germany and Hungary before. As he claims he has a very special relationship to Slovakia because of many friends he has made here, of beautiful nature, outgoing people and a very low language barrier. He worked as Secretary at the Ministry of Interiors in Polish government. He also was a president of Polish and Slovak interregnal commission for an international cooperation. ´It is exactly the field and the task number one that I intend and would like to develop. Cross-border and regional cooperation is very important. Thanks to my five-year- operation in Germany, I have enough experience in this area, ´ adds Zenon Kosiniak- Kamysz, Ambassador of the Polish Republic in Slovakia.

Your Excellency, can you be more precise?
There has always been a different situation on the Polish-and- German borders. Germany was already the member of the European Union but Poland was not. Therefore, we could use different funds and it is necessary to say that a cross-border relationship between Germany and Poland revived in this respect. Now, both Slovakia and Poland are in the European Union having the same conditions. Our experience can be turned into the realization of our plans to the future. I really appreciate already existing contacts among villages and towns. The main advantage is that there is almost no language barrier; let’s take a look at the rafts men in Pieniny. Slovak language approaches to Polish and vice versa. Those people know one another very well and are able to communicate and so they do. Of course, the cooperation must be improved by using a state and regions support as well as the finances coming from various European funds.

The issue of the road connection between Slovakia and Poland via Kysuce towards Zwardoň had been discussed for a very long time. However, the realization of this intention is stagnating on the both sides. What do you think about this issue?
There is no cooperation unless good conditions are created. A perfect infrastructure is, of course, involved as well. If it is missing, it is impossible to carry out neither business nor tourism. It is necessary to point out that the situation is not sufficient in the area mentioned above (i.e. neither in Slovakia nor Poland). I am delighted there will be a new car factory near Žilina, the part of the highway to Žilina will be built up and I hope this motorway will continue towards Čadca. Although we are the members of the European Union, we are still erecting new buildings for custom officers and border guards. Nevertheless, we are not able to complete the construction of the highway from Skalité to Žywec or Bielska. It is not the issue of the frontier crossing as it had been built already, but the completion of the motorway from Žilina to Žwyca and Bielska is the matter of concern. It is not enough to be aware of the problem; it was discussed at every meeting held by the ministers of transport from both countries. However, nothing has been done so far. Although I (as an ambassador) have no influence on the Minister of Finances, I am convinced it will change. It is a completely new situation for me, I had known about it before I came to Slovakia.

The second issue is the situation in Orava and the frontier crossing of Trstená- Chyžné…
There have already been made some reconstructions on a few-kilometres part of the road towards the state frontier. Moreover, the frontier crossing is much better. However, it cannot be the main road joining Poland and Slovakia. I have learnt that some mayors and citizens from Slovak towns and villages have already protested and consider this situation unbearable. Hundreds of tracks, coaches and cars pass the narrow streets daily. Of course, we have been discussing these issues at different forums and searching for solutions. We are trying to find alternatives but a new problem always appears on either side. For example environmentalists, because we do not want to damage nature and ecology, we do not want to erect the motorway across the National park, then there are some other priorities on either Slovak or Polish side. We always reach an agreement after many compromises. Both sides must make them. I strongly believe they will do so. As I said at the beginning of this interview, we must use our experience acquired from using the European funds while searching for possibilities to gain finances for this project as well. I expect we will solve a part of the problems together. The problems we were not able to sort out before.

The development of mutual cooperation is expected after the integration of both countries to the European Union. What are your expectations?
Our membership in the European Union and our mutual cooperation cannot be based on using the European funds. In my opinion, the cooperation of all the countries in Central Europe must be developed. I do not agree with an opinion that our integration to the Union does not require the cooperation of V-4. We must not forget that we have a lot of common experience from the past. We entered the European Union at the same time. I am convinced that we will be solving the same problem in the future. I do not agree with an opinion the Polish Republic is a large country and it should look for different allies in the EU. We come from the same part of Europe as all the members of V - 4, though.

What is your idea of the concrete cooperation of V-4?
I can imagine that our mutual cooperation will be necessary in many particular cases. It will be inevitable to pursue regional opinions and regional politics within the big European family. Our view of Europe and the world must not exclude Eastern Europe. There are our neighbours and many interests there. We know our east neighbours much better than the French, Belgians or the Irish do. I hope the other countries will not forget there is life behind Schengen frontiers. Based on our experience, we have something to say in Brussels, we are entitled to do so. We know the real life in the countries of the former Soviet Union much more precisely than any country of the EU.
Regarding the countries of V-4, they should create the eastern politics of the EU and cooperate more in the field of regional politics.

Do you know Slovakia very well?
I like skiing. I have visited almost all ski resorts in Slovakia. I am familiar with Chopok, Donovaly or Štrbské pleso, I have been to Krompachy in Eastern Slovakia. I skied with Ivan Budiak, a former State Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs many times. Recently, I have come across the statement that the number of Polish tourist has decreased. I do not think so. Despite pleasant conditions in Poland, a number of Poles travelling abroad increased last year. They like travelling to Slovakia, as I could see in Bešeňová, a thermal swimming pool complex. Polish Days were held there as well. It was wonderful. Tourists feel better when they are addressed in their mother tongue. When they are offered their specialities and their folklore is performed.

What don’t you like about the tourism at the Slovak- Polish borders?
I think it is not good when there is no detailed information in Polish language in Slovak travel agencies. Apparently, Poles present more than a half of all tourists in Slovak resorts in Orava, Liptov, Kysuce and Zamagurie. Many of them are shocked by their discrimination as tourists. There are still different prices for domestic and foreign tourists. We expected this situation might have changed after our integration to the European Union. Slovakia is a beautiful country, Poles like visiting it. They feel happy and satisfied; although they are astonished they have to pay twice more than home tourists. Our tourists do not like it.

Slovakia and Poland are involved in the military conflict in Iraq. Has your country changed the opinion about sending Polish military troops there?
It is not confidential that majority of Polish citizens are against the mission of our troops in this dangerous part of the world. On the other hand, we cannot say that Iraq is so far away or international terrorism is not our matter of concern. Events in the USA, Madrid or in Russian Beslan proved that terrorists do not respect borders or distances. No country in the world is safe. Even if we are aware of danger and problems, which the families of our soldiers in Iraq have, we think it is necessary to operate in such areas. Moreover, we hope we contribute to the safety of the world.

Europe and the whole world are approaching towards globalization, unification. Ratification of the European Treaty of Constitution is being prepared. What are the statements of the Polish Republic?
We are aware of this tendency. However, we think and believe that we will not forget who we are and that the membership in the European Union will not endanger our national identity. We have particular historical roots and experiences, we are proud of our Polish history. Imagine: In 20 years time, a sport competition will be held where the team of Poland will meet the USA or Europe against the USA, we will support our Polish group more intensively. Poles agreed with the integration to the European Union. There are some other facts connected with it. Regarding the ratification of the European Treaty of Constitution, a referendum will be held in Poland. I hope my citizens will vote for it as they did in case of our integration to the EU. Our negotiations concerning the European Constitution were not easy. You know what our opinion was. It was very important to us to emphasize the information about our European historical roots, i.e. where we come from. We have to thank Slovakia for their support.

You have been in Slovakia for over a year. What has been your greatest impression so far?
The first part of my mission in Slovakia was focused on the only goal, i.e. the integration of Poland to the European Union. We clearly declared we wanted Slovakia to enter the EU along with us. It was, of course, preceded by various negotiations, meeting of V-4, Presidents of the Central European Group in Košice or the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Polish Republic in Slovakia. I must say the political dialogue with my partners in Slovakia was and is of a high standard.

Foreign capital is entering Slovakia. Do you think that Slovaks and Poles can use many opportunities to establish common enterprises?
Well, it is a question I cannot answer correctly. The interest of the Polish side to invest in Slovakia is lower than real opportunities. I hope it will change. Because the information about economic and financial situation in Slovakia is very good in Poland. It was mentioned in the report of the business counsellor of our Embassy. It says that Polish firms more often address and detect the financing and investment opportunities offered by Slovakia. It is necessary to point out that we do not have such an example as Slovnaft in Poland. It established its own company there and it built up a few pumping stations. Our investment bank has opened a few offices in some countries of the EU including Bratislava over past years. Those were the offices having no banking activities. Therefore, it has shut down its offices in Bratislava as well as in Bratislava.

At the beginning of October 2004, the first big conference about Slovakia called ´ Who are Slovaks? ´ was held in Krakow. No conference of such importance had not been organized since 1995. Their participant learnt about the beginnings of the nations, its identity and culture. Don’t you plan that kind of presentation in Slovakia?
I am glad that there was a conference about Slovaks in Krakow. Poles learnt much more about their neighbours because hardly anyone knows a lot about your history. It is rooted in our minds that our country was bordering the Hungarian Kingdom, i.e. Hungarians. Polish people hardly remember what Slovakia had looked like before the First World War. Personally, I feel pleased to hear Poles saying they going skiing in Slovakia instead of saying they are going skiing to the Czech Tatras. Of course, we intend to present Poland in Slovakia as well. We organized Polish Days in Slovakia recently. Performances of folklore groups, exhibitions and concerts were carried out. We would like to do even more to get to know our country better. Poles know more regions of Slovakia than Slovaks know about Poland. Our country ends a few kilometres behind borders for them. Nevertheless, we have a lot to offer to tourists and visitors. I do my best in this case.

Magnificent amphitheatre in Pula
Thousands of tourists, who set off for the Adriatic coast every year, travel to Istria. The wonderful sea and picturesque beaches full of bright sunshine tie them up and all the tourist are just hostages of that amazing area. Historical and impressive architecture of peninsula inland remains a taboo for them. As if it was a waste of time to jump into a car and drive far from the sea towards many picturesque towns nearby, e.g. Motovun, Grožnjan, Labin, Bale… Medieval Mediterranean treasures. However, there are plenty of historical sights by the sea.

The real synonym of Pula is Vespasianus´s amphitheatre. According to Strabon, Greek historian, the town is three thousand years old. It is the second biggest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. Ancient times shaped Pula a lot- apart from a monumental arena, the town is proud of its Sergius’s Arch, Hercules’s Gate, Porta Gemina- another gate, Augustus’s Temple and many other ancient Roman buildings mixed up with the medieval and renaissance sights or the classicism dating back to the era of the Austro- Hungarian Kingdom.
Let’s turn our attention back to the amphitheatre, the most popular historical sight of Pula. No written sources remained. It is supposed to be founded during the reign of the first Caesar- Octavian Augustus. The walls with semicircle holes on two floors correspond with the style typical for the first century AD, i.e. the reign of Caesar Claudius. The last phase of the construction of the third floor and the completion of the amphitheatre dated back to 80 AD, i.e. the reign of Vespasianus.
It is geometrically regular building of an ellipse shape with the length of 133m, the width of 105m and the height of hardly 33 metres. There is an arena or a fighting place in the middle of the amphitheatre with the size of 68 times 42 metres. The canal covered by plates separated the audience from the arena. Its capacity was of 20,000 people. The surrounding wall consists of two floors with 72 arched windows, on the third floor there are only 64 square windows. The amphitheatre of Pula is the most important Roman sight in Croatia along with Diocletian’s palace. Nowadays, it is used as a place for international film festivals, concerts and many other cultural events.
Staying in this magnificent stone cauldron of the amphitheatre is really unusual experience that will overcome all the peaceful days spent on the beach full of bright sunshine and heat. It is said that who does not step into the arena of Pula does not know what Istrija is. If you enter it, with a bit of fantasy you will feel as a gladiator armed and dressed in leather who was fighting here over two thousand years ago.

Computers and televisions ground in Slovenská Ľupča
At last, Slovakia has its line for electro-waste processing. Electro recycling, s.r.o. is a company offering this service to the producers of electronic and electric devices in the European Union.

Every computer, TV set or domestic electrical appliance, will get old once, it loses its function and becomes useless. We were used to throwing things to a dust bin and we did not care anymore what would have happened with it. Many of us are still not interested in dangerous materials out of which the electric or electronic goods consist of. Hardly anybody knows that every computer, TV set, video or mobile phone will have become older in a rubbish dump for 1,000 years. The project of electro-waste disposal was initiated in Slovakia on 17 January 2005. This project contributed to the significant change of an abandoned perception of the environmental burden. Electro Recycling, s.r.o. constructed the automatic technological recycling line to process electro-waste (excluding cooling devices and electric bulbs) with the capacity of 14 thousand tones.

The goal of the project is to build up a high quality system of salvage places and logistics and to put the whole functioning system into practice. Collective producers of electrical and electronic equipment will be enabled to use it after 13 August 2005.
´ The limits of obligatory collection of electro-waste will be set for all the citizens of the European Union after the date mentioned above. Technological equipment of our line is in accordance with the strictest criteria set during the process of processing authorization. Producers can rely on the fact that the output material fulfil the limits of recycling as stated in the Directive 2002/96/ ES issued by the European Parliament and the Council,´ says Ing. Jozef Vašina, Executive of Electro Recycling, s.r.o.
As stated in the Directive, the key goals of the environmental community politics is to preserve, to protect and improve the quality of our environment, to protect people’s health, to use the natural sources effectively but reasonably. This policy is based on the principle of exploratory caution, on the principle of prevention in order to protect the environment against damages right at the source and the polluter-will-pay principle.

Slovakia is able to improve electro-waste
´The Directive clearly defines and orders the individual members how to collect and process electro-waste and which regulations must be carried out during the production phase in order to eliminate the amount of dangerous substances in electrical equipment. Slovakia has decided to adopt this issue very correctly, not only from theoretical point of view. This Directive was implemented to the Waste Act and it is ready to improve electro-waste in its capacities by 13 August 2005,´ Jozef Vašina continues.
The programme of the EU for environmental politics (Fifth Environmental Act Programme) states that it requires very serious changes in the structure of development, production, consumption and behaviour to achieve permanent sustainable development. Moreover, it recommends decreasing non-economical use of natural sources and protection against pollution. Waste from electric and electronic devices are defines as one of the key fields that is necessary to direct in terms of application of prevention principle, improvement and safe waste disposal. Electro Recycling Company responded to these needs and offered Slovakia an alternative regarded as a challenge for elimination of rigid waste dumps loading as well as for saving resource mining.

Materials will be ground to 100 mm in the mill
´Regarding electro-waste processing, the first phase is important, i.e. professional dismantlement of devices and equipment included in N- category. Those being described as dangerous waste will be placed in tanks and handed over to external contractors. Other components will go to the chain mill. Its tasks is to minimize the incoming materials down to approx. 100 mm and then to select all iron components by using a line separator, ´ J. Vašina explains and adds, ´ then the conveyor belts move the waste on the line for the manual separation in order to select metal and non-metal components into prepared containers. The rest of the material is moved from a salvaged container to a double-rotor hammer mill equipped by a draining machine. After crushing, material goes through a magnetic separator and remained bits go into a vibrating separator where they are divided into three groups according to the grain size. This selected material proceeds into the air vibrating and magnetic separator for the final separation of metal and non- metal fractions. Final products are to be re-used.´
Electro Recycling Company has its own workplace for TV and CRT monitors dismantlement. The final product is divided into two glass parts- baric and lead glass. The layer between them consists of carcinogenic illuminating dust that is professionally disposed by special draining equipment.

The Hotel Lux- your home on your travels
´My philosophy is politeness, kindness and smile; they are for free but your guests will remember it and will come again, ´ says Jan Bočkaj, a successful Slovak hotelier.

If you ask citizens of Banská Bystrica what they consider a dominance of this city, they would say historical SNP Square. However, the most impressive building is the 16-storeys Hotel Lux categorized as a three-star hotel. It has been used for 35 years. Its first and the only manager is Ing. Ján Bočkaj, now the owner and executive of the company Hotel Lux B&B Banská Bystrica, which bought this hotel from the city. Slovak Trade and Industrial Chamber placed this company on the list of firms, which apply the ethic principles in business. Ján Bočkaj is a holder of ´ Gurman Award 2004´, an award for the best hotelier. This prize is given by Gurman Club Company as a merit for development and representation of Slovak gastronomy and hotel services. The hotel was given many awards by Hotel Association as well as many others evaluating these services.




Water quality is alarming in the region of Prešov
Irena Belohorská, MP of the EU, financially supported the project that should wake up the authorities in order to find or help to find funds for the construction of a waste water sewage plant, a drainage and a public water supply system.

Although there are 800,000 inhabitants living in 666 cities and villages in the region of Prešov, only 24 per cent of them are connected to the public drainage ( Slovak average is 55%) and only 60 % is connected to the public drainage (Slovak average 83%). The situation concerning household connection to the suitable and harmless sources of drinking water is alarming as well. Due to a low number of necessary potable water capacities from underground sources, most households are attached to surface water sources that are not in accordance with chemical or biological criteria set for harmless drinking water. The worst situation is in the districts of Stropkov, Svidník and Bardejov. National supervising specialists find this situation worrying. Potential sources of potable water – the Dam of Domaša and the area of Tichý Potok are not protected enough. There are no waste water sewage plants built. The public drainage system discharges into rivers and streams flowing straight to the drinking water sources.

Let’s go to the world of witches and wizards
Watch out a witch ´s big head, she has not eaten for over 300 years. Whoever, she looks at, will turn into a rock and fall apart.

Witches and sorceress - the only unique interactive exhibition will attract both children and their parents until 20th March 2005. It takes place in Optima, the shopping centre in Košice. Some static and movable robotic models want to remind children, youth and adults about the world of fairy tales, legends and fables. This exhibition is a continuation of the previous exhibition- Dinosaurs´ Return having been visited by 100,000 people. It is not suitable for children under two and people suffering from fear or epilepsy.



Tradition of Foreign Relations balls in Reduta
Alexander Duleba, director of the Research Centre of the Company for the Foreign Politics, was given Karol Rybárik´s Award. The ball was supported by TA3 and magazines Dimenzie, EuropReport and Slovak Golf Revue.

On 15 January 2005, the 7th Representative Ball of Foreign Relations 2005 was held in a beautiful building of Slovak Philharmony in Bratislava. It was really successful. As only a few balls in Slovakia, this one has always been known for its charity intentions since its beginning. The total take from the charity auction was dedicated to the Children’s Help Link UNICEF. Eva Dzurindová, Director of this institution and a wife of Slovak Prime Minister took over the amount of 210,000 Slovak Crowns.

Association of Students and Graduates from UMV a AP
The Association of Students and Graduates from Institution of International Relations and Law Approximation (UMVaAP- Ústav medzinárodných vzťahov an aproximácie práva) has been organizing a representative ball since 1998. For the past three years, it has equally cooperated with the Foreign Politics Association (SFPA) and has been under the patronage of Eduard Kukan, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Slovak Republic. The Institution of International Relations and Law Approximation is an organizational part of the Faculty of Law at Comenius University in Bratislava. It provides specialized professional training in the field of diplomatic and consular services, foreign trade, international law and international relations. It was started in 1991 as a respond to an increasing demand of public and private sectors. In a few years, this institution has already educated many Slovak diplomats and personalities operating on many posts in Foreign Service, Civil Service and in international organizations.



It was worth to be stubborn
Stan Mikita, a legendary ice-hockey player, explaining why he did not become a coach, talking about the ice-hockey during his era and comparing to an ice-hockey of these days, about money or his Slovak heart.

He is one of the most popular ice-hockey players the world has ever had. He left Sokolče at the age of eight. Although he was born on the bottom of Liptovská Mara (a dam), he went overseas to do his best. As hardly any Slovak, he has achieved a great success. He became a legend of ice-hockey arenas; his name is like a magnet impressing every fan. Moreover, it is the same with journalists and our magazine. This 64-year old fellow with lively smiling eyes and suntanned complexion using his own mixture of Slovak dialect (from Liptov) and American English has revealed a lot…

You are full of energy and you look very good. What is your secret?
Do I look good?! Well… A have a perfect plastic surgeon and you are short-sighted probably (laughing). I do not know. I have not drunk beer or smoked for 20 years.

 

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Let's build a common "Great Wall of Immunity"
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Accession of Beijing in the Middle East
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