July-August 2008Horse and Cattle Shepherds
Jewel - Larimar
Open to the world
A stone gave the name to the hotel
Room design according to the four elements
Fresh and Mediterranean Line of Cuisine
Large areas and comfortable standard of living
Space and services are the luxuries
Reflecting “ Euro Signs” from Turiec
There was an article at the beginning
Klis Fortress above Split
Petar Kružič- a hero
Baška Voda has it all
Viničky- Tokay Wine Production
Investment in the amount of 400 million crowns
Gentle Contours or Women’s Nude Portraits in Fine Art
Will the new Serbian government resist the pressure of the USA and discredited EU?
Serbia, which has gone thorough tough times and humiliation, has its new and so-called pro- European government. It consists of “the mixture” of 11 political parties that form three independent and antagonistic coalitions representing right, central, left and ethnical group. There is a very “delicate” majority in the parliament- by two votes (127 MPs out of 250).
B. Tadič´s Democratic Party is a dominant one in the government as the party holds the posts of the prime minister and 10 ministers. The party is being helped by its electoral partner, i.e. G?-17 Plus (6 ministers). The Socialistic Party, which paradoxically formed a coalition with
V. Kostunica’s radicals and nationalists in Beograd city parliament, was given 4 minister posts and it is blamed for having been eliminated and bought by Brussels and Americans. And what is the reason for that? The party did not form an expected coalition with radicals and nationalists with whom the Party found so much in common during the electoral campaign in almost all issues. Its leaders have to face an accusation that the Party betrayed its voters just to reach the international rehabilitation of post- Milosevic party and become members of the European socialists. Well, how can this party pursue social reforms and requirements of its electoral partner (The Union of Retired People) when it does not control any economic resorts? Key economic resorts are controlled by the right (mainly by G?- 17 Plus) that used to be accused of corruption and stealing Money from Serbian people in the previous government...
I got an impression that this government and the background of its formation is rather similar to the situation we experienced in Slovakia after the year 1998 when the similar mixture of parties and ideologies ruled the country being supervised by the American ambassador and the emissaries from the European Union. This “mixture” was created juts to prevent Mečiar from governing for the next electoral period of time so that he could not complete selling out our national possessions. In case of Serbia, the „unifying element“ was to create the opposition to V. Kostunica and radicals represented by T. Nikolič who wanted to form national and socially orientated government, and the issue of accepting the USA and Brussels dictate in case of illegal independence of so-called the Republic of Kosovo. Meanwhile, Kosovo managed to give a birth to their new constitution (well, better said Ahtiisari´s constitution) and a kind of an anthem which does not have lyrics yet…
“The prospectus of fast membership in the European Union” plays its role too, for the time being, it is membership without the provinces of Kosovo and Metohija in which the Americans hidden by NATO, a dominant pillar of security in Europe, are building its second, or even the strongest military base in Europe. It is scandalous and unacceptable for the European Union so that some influential member states (Germany. Great Britain, France, and Italy) continue blackmailing Serbia in case of Kosovo and breaking and ignoring the international law. According to the agreement reached so far, the main tasks of the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union (CFSP), i.e. its second main pillar are: to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests, independence and integrity of the Union in conformity with the principles of the United Nations Charter; to strengthen the security of the Union in all ways; to preserve peace and strengthen international security, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, as well as the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the objectives of the Paris Charter, including those on external borders; to promote international cooperation; to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. How can the current EU, well, better said Mr Solana’s European Union, meet these tasks? How is it consolidating and developing democracy and the rule of law, how is it respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms? How can it develop and consolidate the rule of law when it does not respect the constitution and laws of the sovereign Serbian state, its territorial integrity when it does not respect the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and established and supports a protectorate state located in the other territory and at its occupied area?
What is this absurd, illegal and amoral common security and foreign policy about when all the members’ states do not share the same opinion on the position of Kosovo and why do, for example Spain and Greece refuse to recognize the Kosovo Republic?
A new Serbian government that will vitally depend on MPs of the four coalitional Islamic parties from the region of Sandzak where the move for unification of the Islamic community has been formed; declared that it will never recognize the independence of the Kosovo Republic. It is the other way round; they want to take some diplomatic steps and measurements so that Serbia kept Kosovo and Metohija.
The Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovič even managed to declare that the government will “take over an initiative for renewal of negotiations with the representatives of ethnical Albanians in Kosovo in order to find “a mutually suitable solution”. What kind of a solution? Nobody knows yet. The Serbian Parliament will be facing the process of ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU soon. It can be fatal for the government as first; Serbia would have to recognize the independence of the Kosovo Republic and thus opened the door to Priština to get to the international institutions. Germany and a Swedish commissar for EU enlargement have put a lot of pressure on Serbia recently. And Slovenian presidency as well. And thus the pride of the European integration as the European Union is often called, has not reached an international legal subjectivity yet and it is still only the economic association of independent states has been continuing in its most difficult political nad moral crisis.
Róber Matejovič, editor in chief
We are not ready for liberalization in education market
„The access to information is getting more and more comfortable; however, the access to knowledge is protected and complicated. People come across plenty of information on purpose and they can get lost. So, it is important to separate knowledge from information. This ability will be given to smart people only,“ says Professor René Matlovič, the Rector of the University of Prešov that has prepared a whole packet of large investments.
Despite its short existence, eleven years only, the University of Prešov has much longer history. The history of its faculties that used to be the part of the P. J. Šafárik´s University in Košice is much older. The oldest faculty is the Faculty of Greek- Catholic Theology that was established in 1880. In the 1950s, other three faculties were formed- Faculty of Orthodox Theology, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Education. In 1997, the Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences was founded by dividing an original Faculty of Education because there was a necessity to specify preparation of teachers for primary education and teachers of general educational subject for primary and secondary schools at both faculties. The newest are the following faculties: The Faculty of Health Care, the Faculty of Management and the Faculty of Sports which were established between the years 2002 and 2004 as a result of requirements of the regional labour market.
At present almost 13,000 students are studying at eight faculties (out of them, 5143 are external ones) in various forms and degrees of study. It is the third biggest university in Slovakia and it employs 1017 people, including 509 university teachers, 64 professors and 80 readers. Students are given an opportunity to choose from 759 accredited studying programmes within internal study and 483 programs within external study. There is a system of three degree study- bachelor, master and doctorate. The largest number of students is at the Faculty of Arts (3010).
Mr Professor, you worked as a professor at the Institute of Sociology at Rzeszow University for a year and a half. You gave lectures on demography and social geography. Why social geography? Why is its key topic at present?
From the scientific point of view, it was an enriching cooperation with sociologists. Sociology is very similar to human geography and the cooperation with other specialists is brings many benefits regarding the needs of interdisciplinary cooperation and creation of trans- disciplinary research platforms carrying high heuristic potential. While doing geographical research, various spheres of interests come together, matching to humanities and natural sciences. Geography understands the world around us as an impressive structural diversity and complexity of abiological, biological, social and non- spherical and cyber- spherical components and their mutual relations. Due to that reason, geography is tightly connected with other sciences. However, not only ontologically conditioned autonomy is fascinating about geography, coming from the developing complexity of the subject of our research but it is also very specific epistemological field, presenting special viewing on the object of our study. Geography as an integral part of the science is the source of knowledge mostly corresponding to human psychological structure and thus the most appropriate needs of education. At present, IT times that produces enormous amount of information, it is very important to be able to select relevant knowledge- nomotetic approaches focused on explanation on the one side and ideographical approaches focusing on understanding or empathy on the other side.
You have been a rector since 1 August 2007. What were your ambitions like when you were appointed to this position? What motivated you to become a rector?
Originally, I had not had a single thought of becoming a rector. Some of my friends and colleagues who had not been satisfied with the development at our university and wanted a change began addressing me with that proposal. I was also not satisfied with the trends at our university. I said to myself that I just could not sit and complain that I could make an effort to the things. To be honest with you, I was inspired by the mayor election in Prešov because Pavol Hagyari, a candidate of change won at the time. However, many people were surprised in Prešov. And I thought he had succeeded and why wouldn’t have I? I set the priority, the main goal, i.e. to increase competitiveness of our university in terms of our educational and research fields. How? By concentration on the development of the core business” of our university- education and science.
Well, you have made an impression having said that. How is it possible to develop education and science at Slovak universities when none of them are among 500 top universities in Europe? Is it possible to carry it out by chasing for various projects and grants?
We live in the competitive environment and the expected liberalization of the education market will make the competitiveness even more intensive. In a short time, foreign universities will enter Slovakia what might have a great influence on the form and organizational structure of our higher education. Unfortunately, Slovak universities are not competitive due to a long- term under-financing of the whole sector reflected in insufficient infrastructures and due to young people leaving their home towns to work abroad or more attractive sectors of economy in Slovakia. Neo- liberal approaches that have been predominating over the past years really have led to the fact that the most important performance and quality is the one measured by the number of acquired grants and finances of out using scientific- metrical indexes (publications in current magazines with a high impact factor, Hirsh index, etc.). We cannot avoid growing pressure on grant success, however, we will not mange much in this “game”. It is necessary to enter cooperation networks. Even in Slovakia, we will have to get used to cooperation and integration of research teams.
Your memorable words have been written in the history of your university: “My most important goal is so that only “wise” graduates leave our university. What does it mean? Your graduates have not been smart enough so far?
Well, I did not mean to say it so directly. I mean the change of the contemporary approaches towards preparedness of our graduates. Our educational system pays attention to facts- and theoretical knowledge (memorizing) and focuses less on the independent thinking. The change is based on shift to new approaches that will mostly lead people to think and work independently. Thus, they will get closer to situations they will be faced in real life that will want them to search for new (or old -and -new) solutions to problems. The world is full of incidental events and that is why we cannot teach our student only good old things that were applied in the past. It is the ability to find solutions in unexpected situation which is the sign of wisdom.
Let’s have a look at your vision and priority goals set for the coming two years. What are they like?
In the field of education, we would like to update our offer based on the portfolio analysis of studying programmes in order to strengthen programmes with a focus on application. We will more significantly diversify our offer of studying programmes in English (or other international languages) in order to attract clients- foreigners, predominantly not from the EU. We will cooperate with other universities in common educational programmes, for example within the programme Ruthenian language and literature with universities in Krakow, Novy Sad, Toronto and Nyíregyháza, the programme geography (Girona and Helsinki), etc.
In the field of research, we intent to support establishment of new centres of “excellence” with the state-of-the- art infrastructural equipment (bio- technologies, geo-data and special analysis focusing on the regional development, study of ethnical and religious identities, interdisciplinary study of quality of life) so that we increase an effort and consequently success of our university while solving international research projects.
Furthermore, we would like to improve the cooperation with public services, mainly with the city of Prešov (Activities similar to those concerning the candidacy of the city for the European capital city 2013), Prešov self- governing region, entrepreneurs within an initiative for building s bio- technological cluster and non- profitable organizations.
We will surely improve social infrastructure and services provided for students in terms of accommodation and the board, IT equipment of student dormitories, we would like to increase the quality ands the number of cultural and sport facilities. We will revitalize the campus by the river Torysa.
What will change in campus? Where do you want to invest most money? In what amount?
First of all, the car parks will be reconstructed and we will remodel the part of the old student dormitory (Block A) to be able to provide accommodation of the European standard. We will create a so-called “ Admission Office” where our advertising materials and leaflets, published books will be available so people could read them and were well- informed on what is going on at university while drinking a cup of coffee. In the second phase we are planning to reconstruct the building of a former primary school in 17 November Street and thus we will create new premises for teaching and offices. We also intent to reconstruct sporting areas by the river Torysa and we might build an academic tea house by the river and moreover, we would like to carry out the reconstruction of the main building that must be isolated and equipped by new rest rooms. Furthermore, we will invest a huge amount of money in IT and communicational technologies, new laboratories and energy- saving measurement. These investments planned for the next two years will require 500 million crowns that we will try to get from the structural funds of the EU. The first project for infrastructure equipment in the amount of 150 million crowns has already been submitted.
Besides the campus, we are planning the third phase of construction of the Faculty of Health Care (Reconstruction of the wing necessary for physio- therapeutical workplace.) and new premises for the Faculty of Orthodox Theology and the Faculty of Management.
Will the University of Prešov remain a university or it will “ fall down to” the category of public schools of higher education?
Of course, our ambition is to keep the status of a university. The complex accreditation that will have the most significant influence on placement of schools into particular categories is based on evaluation of our work in six years (from 2002 to 2007). It means that we have only limited options to change operatively negatives that might have appeared in the past. And the Slovak National Council will pass the resolution whether the University of Prešov will remain a university based on the recommendation made by the Accreditation Commission, an advisory body of the Government of the Slovak Republic.
Has the process of the international accreditation of your university been completed yet?
Our university has not been accredited yet, from the international point of view. Last year, only the process of international evaluation was carried out with the Slovak project supervised by the European Universities Association. Based on this evaluation, we received a EUA evaluation report and later an evaluation report of the Sector of higher education in Slovakia was elaborated as well. The Slovak Rectos´ Conference has passed an application document to this evaluation report that includes a wide range of recommendations and steps that should be taken at individual faculties as well as at the level of national politics.
Can you explain to us when the university will get the international accreditation and which criteria have to be met?
There is no international accreditation of a university as a unit being prepared at the moment. However, I cannot say that we will not try to get accreditation of chosen studying programmes. This goal is always current one in a middle- term time prospectus.
Let’s go back to the evaluation report of the EUA. What recommendations did it make to your university?
The international evaluation provided us with a lot of precious and valuable inspirations that we have already implemented in our long- term development plan until the year 2013 and with a future prospectus to the year 2015. The main recommendations are: strengthen scientific research, modernize methods of educational activities, improve infrastructure and strengthen activities of international dimensions.
What are the recommendation of the Slovak Rectors´ Conference for the national politics that is supervised by the government and ministry of education?
The Slovak Rector Conference has made a lot of recommendations and I consider two of them to be the most important ones. The first is to increase funds to be invested in higher education up to 2 % of GDP and in research and development up to 3% of GDP according to the recommendations of the European Commission. The second is the amendment of the laws on higher education so that schools were able to develop their inner structures suitable for their intensions and enabling to respond flexibly to the current needs.
What your university is better at compared to other social- scientific universities in Slovakia?
We have unique studying programmes in terms of Slovakia and even Central Europe, the most attractive ones are psychology, mass media studies and social work, and of course studying languages such as English, German, French and Slavonic languages and literature are traditionally on a great demand. History, Political Sciences, Ethics and Philosophy are also very popular with students. The Faculty of Greek- Catholic Theology is one of its kinds in Slovakia and many students are interested not only in Catholic Theology but also religious studies, advertising and media work and animation of leisure time activities. The Faculty of Humanities and Natural Sciences has very popular studying programmes like biology, ecology, geography in the regional development, book and information studies, pedagogy and teaching social studies, English language, Slovak language and fine arts. The Faculty of Management became one of the most popular in Slovakia right after its establishment. It offers studying programme management and within the blocks of compulsory subject, student can study tourism and hotel management, management of human resources, marketing and management of tertiary sphere as a doctorate study. The Faculty of Education usually addresses people who are interested in pre- school and elementary pedagogy and special pedagogy. In the next academic year we are going to open a new studying programme called “teaching of practical professional preparation of disabled people”. The Faculty of Orthodox Theology, it is also the only one in Slovakia, has very popular programmes like studying orthodox theology, charity and social work. The Faculty of Sports offers to study teaching physical education and coaching. The Faculty of Health Care is offers a unique studying programme- dental hygiene, however, you might be interested in programmes like health care, midwife, emergency health care. And on the top of that w is the only university offering the studying programme- teaching Ruthenian language and literature.
How are you preparing for the liberalization on the education market which a result of globalization?
In my opinion, we are not ready for liberalization in education market. Our universities are under- financed for many years and their educational and research infrastructure is poorly developed. Countries that we consider less developed compared to Slovakia have already been more successful. That is also the reason why our universities cannot be very attractive for clients abroad because they have limited possibilities to enter research consortium which solve the project balancing at the level of human knowledge. Capable young scientists leave Slovakia to work abroad and hardly any are interested in coming back what is undoubtedly connected with a low financial reward and general disrespect for education in our society.
However, there are also other social circumstances that play an important role there, i.e. anti- elite approach that is deeply rooted in thinking of our people. Even those modest elites that had been formed for many years were smashed down a few times in the 20th century. Particularly, “equality attempts” searching for an ideological support in a vulgarized of Marxism- Leninism had the most negative influence on people’s mentality. It will last for a few generations to get rid of this mental contamination that is presented by envy and unwillingness to accept and respect “elites”. It sound rather ridiculous but in our society success is never forgiven. And in addition to that low demand for high quality education and under-valuated role of science and education for the further and healthy development of our society. Although we verbally declare our support to building the knowledge- based society, we are actually not able to change our priorities. And it is not only about the national budget but also about company and family budgets. For example, implementation of school fees causes a refusal. On the other hand, people are not willing to think about their priorities while talking about a family budget what also leads to permanent under- valuation of education and knowledge.
When will your and other Slovak universities manage to move from informational to knowledge- based society, mainly thorough science and research? Hasn’t it been lasting for a very long time? And has it begun yet? Really? What has influenced it?
The process started by the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy. However, it is true that we manage to meet this conception only partially not always being successful. Unfortunately, our country is at the bottom of the charts and lists of the EU and OECD in financing of science and research as well as ranking describing the performance in the areas mentioned before. We need the development of quadrate sector of economy that all the society will have to accept and subordinate their priorities. The measurement has been passed at the national level. Modernization Programme Slovakia 21 will bring new impulses and it is necessary to implement this programme. However, we cannot expect the result immediately. In middle- term period of time, I suppose. And it might be the essential problem - electoral periods are to short for some politicians or academic people to pursue and carry out a long- term strategy that would not be changed upon every election.
Well, let’s talk about Poland and France were you used to work for a particular time. Are they prepares for liberalization of the education market, how are “elites” perceived?
Based on my experience, France is much better prepared for present challenges. Their infrastructural equipment cannot be compared to ours, their have also created better conditions for creative work. In spite of the fact that France is the cradle of “equality”, there are many elite schools what mean that the French society is able to accept the need of elites for their social and political life. Poland as a post- communistic country struggles with the same problems as we do. On the other hand, they invest more money in research and educational infrastructure. I was deeply impressed with a new campus at Jagiellonianon University in Krakow where many significant laboratories of a world standard are used. The approach towards elites is much more tolerant in Poland. For example when talking to my colleagues at Jagiellonian University about professors´ salaries, I realized that although they would have been given more money at private schools, they felt proud and honoured to work for an” elite” university in Krakow.
It is really possible to build up a knowledge based society? Isn’t it rather a slogan of a so- called post- capitalistic society that (as some Swedish scientists claim) is starting to be dependent on information and networks more than on ideals like democracy, civic society? What is our knowledge for when we are not able to implement it in practice because everything depends on an ability to have money, to earn it and thus survive? What can revitalize the old humanistic traditions that gave birth to universities and their development?
Contemporary world has been going through a paradigmatic change. It is the matter of an adequate terminology. Undoubtedly, knowledge will play more and more important role in the future. The Access to information is getting more and more comfortable; however, the Access to knowledge is protected and complicated. People are faced plenty of information on purpose and they can get lost. So it is important to select knowledge from information. This ability will be given to clever people only, to people who will understand the necessity of cooperation networks. Obviously, only those who have something to offer and are able to share their knowledge with others and will want to cooperate based on mutual confidence. Capitalist model of behaviour is derived from individualism and competitiveness; however, it will not be successful any more. Solitaries will not achieve anything relevant. And it is valid especially for doing research.
In addition to what I have just said, educational and research institutions will have to adjust present trends. We can expect that ambivalent trends will be deeper and deeper. On the one side, there will be performance and application for practice that will play their roles which will bring financial effects as well. On the other hand we just cannot under-valuate “blue sky research”- the basic research and humanistic approaches that will be very significant because they will generate knowledge which will be profitable for applied research. Undoubtedly, the matter of ethics will arise because operation of networks will be based on mutual confidence and on sharing essential values and following the rules.
Is it possible to stop and influence positively this paradigmatic change? Well, everything can be doubted these days, there is no universal truth. Might it happen that education will reach the state of anarchy when no one will know what is or is not the truth what is virtual reality, or whether a wide choice of information and its networks are really a serious part of education and further development of science and research? Is it possible to revitalize old humanistic traditions, the ones that contributed to the establishment of universities?
Well, you have just asked very serious questions, however, there are no exact answers. Post- modern era has really come up with revitalization of the set of values. And likely in arts where the boundary between real art and kitsch are disappearing, sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish between serious science and pseudo- science or mythology. I expect we will have to come back to a particular set of values and glue to it. Nevertheless, there is a question whether is it still possible to overcome inter-civilization tension in our globalized world and agree on a particular cosmopolitan ethos as proclaimed by a Swiss catholic priest Hans Küng or these tensions will end up as a clash of civilizations as written by Samuel P. Huntington. Universities can play a significant role as the places where people of different cultures will meet and thus the world will set off on the first way I mentioned.
Are Slovak universities competitive enough within the states of V-4? Aren’t the goals of the Lisbon Strategy like utopia rather than real programme a goal?
Well, the goals of the Lisbon Strategy cannot be applied due to mentioned problems with social and financial recognition of priorities which is to develop science and education. Our universities need a system of management to be changed. There are two extreme approaches in Slovak space: non- academic managerial approaches at private schools on the one hand and stiff approaches full of political background at public schools. It is necessary to reach a balance between them.
I suppose that in the middle term time, the system of higher education will have to be restructuralized in Slovakia. There are a lot of small universities that cannot face international competitiveness. So far, we have been trapped by conventional way of thinking and we are limited by the mental barrier that we are not able to overcome, however, it is so necessary if we want to cooperate. If we want to reach higher position at ratings, we will have to concentrate on quality and use algometrical and synergic effects. I am glad that for example two cities- Košice and Prešov are continuously overcoming the era of divergent development and hopefully, we will be able to discuss the matters of closer cooperation in the future. And we might be so capable that we might offer investors in production with a high added values, research and development, our “ smart twin city Košice – Prešov” as place suitable for working and living. It is important to get over binary opposition in terms of cooperation and competitiveness. Our surroundings (out of the region) are our competitors, we should cooperate more inside the region. I would like to present two good examples of mutual cooperation- two projects attempting to create a bio- technological cluster in East Slovakia (BioMed and BioTask). Furthermore, the Slovak Commission of the Slovak Government for Knowledge- base society has already discussed these projects. Our region needs a disruptive innovation that will interrupt current downward trajectory of less dynamic development. The bio- technological cluster or university cluster with clearly defined profiles of specialist can move Slovakia upwards to higher level of global competition for “excellence”.
Horse and Cattle Shepherds
Hortobágy Puszta attracts tourists by “ czardas and performances by “ Central European Cowboys”.
If you ever visit Hajdú- Bihár County in the east of Hungary (Debrecén is its administration centre), and you should find a day or two to spare to visit grass heath (puszta) Hortobágy. It is a part of the world heritage included in the National Park Hortobágy which covers the area of 82 thousand hectares. It is a typical example of the permanent co-existance of a man with the nature. It is the land of horse shepherds (csíkos) and cattle shepherds but also their reliable helpers, i.e. old Hungarian shepherds´ dogs- “puli” and “komondor” what brings back vivid memories of the good olden shepherds´ times. During hot summer days, you can see a mirage there. This rare and unique natural phenomenon can be experienced only by those who visit this magic place.
As Sándor Petőfi once wrote, in this country as flat as the sea, there is nothing to put a stop to your sight, the horizon goes forever. Nevertheless, one might think that a puszta is monotonous he is surely mistaken. As our travel guides explained to us, its diversity can be seen in details. It is presented by unique flora and fauna and typical wells with beams reaching up to the sky. Shepherds as well as wandering herds of horses and cattle drink water from them. And some of them, like oasis of human life, are surrounded by authentic master pieces of folk architecture- well- known czardas, i.e. pubs built away from villages along the roads crossing the Great Lowland. Nowadays, they are very popular with tourists who enjoy delicious meals and drinks of shepherds from the puszta.
We had an opportunity to visit a three?-?hundred - year old csárda called Hortobágy. It was built on the road by which merchants imported salt from Transylvania (west Romania) to Budin. A shelter, next to which carts used to be parked has been turned into a museum now, the Shepherds Museum. We could also see the longest Hungarian stone bridge, known as the Bridge with Nine Arches, placed nearby. It is 167 meters long and is more than 170 years old.
After having driven a few kilometres, we entered the village of Máta which is the centre of famous Hortobágy horses. Local farmers are proud of their horse shepherds´ tradition, so-called csíkos. These “ Central European Cowboys” are not only horse shepherds and their protectors but also ab kind of national identification of the Hungarians with horse keeping, culture and a unique style of mutual cohabitation. Wearing their typical blue linen shirts, lousy trousers and black hats they perform breathtaking forms of horse- riding and riding skills in front of amazed audience.
Well, have a look yourself.
Jewel - Larimar
This precious gemstone from the Caribbean and the new thermal spa and golf hotel in Stegersbach in southeast Austria is the most recent, interesting and outstanding hotel project in the field of Austrian thermal, wellness and golf tourism.
Burgenland, the youngest and the furthest county of Austria ( since 1921) neighbours not only with Slovakia but also with Hungary and Slovenia. A year ago, a unique and luxurious complex of the four- star hotel Larimar enriched the wide and rich tourist and cultural potential of the region. The hotel is located on the top of the Stegersbach sun hill, which gave the name to a small but picturesque tourist village with 2500 inhabitants. If you want to travel by car, it is 200 kilometers far from Bratislava (the shortest way via Eisenstadt), 530 kilometers from Košice (via Hungarian town Szombathely), 255 kilometers from Budapest and 266 kilometers from Zagreb (via Graz).
The grand and sunny location of the thermal, spa and golf hotel is stunning and offers a magnificent panoramic view of the region where a numerous Croatian and Hungarian minorities live. They both have their cultural centre in Oberwart located nearby.
Open to the world
The site with spectacular architecture which complements a sense of security and comfort is full of natural energy and vitality. It is the ideal place for a hotel that is open to the world. The Hotel Larimar has an egg-shaped design, an oval following the ancient tradition of the doctrine of proportions, especially that of the golden ratio (1:1.1618). It has 110 air- conditioned rooms and smaller suites with an accommodation capacity of 200 beds. “The egg, as the origin of all life, offers exactly the kind of security and comfort, which makes this house such an outstanding place. Owing to the use of bricks and mortar and ecological building materials as well as plenty of untreated timber and leafy roofs, this house is a very special place for cosiness and wellbeing. Water in the various thermal pools and swimming pools is a characteristic feature of this house together with wells, biotopes and a water wall in the entrance hall. Given all these virtues, a hotel has come into being that prides itself on an entirely independent and luxurious architectural style that meets the sense of security and comfort,” emphasised Johann Haberl, Owner and Managing Director of the Hotel Larimar. He has been doing pioneer work in terms of thermae and wellness for over 25 years. When, during the 1980s, modern thermal tourism began to emerge in the provinces of Styria and Burgenland, Johann Haberl had been leading the way in Bad Waltersdorf, boasting sustainable successes for over two decades. After more than 21 years of fruitful work in Bad Waltersdorf, Johann Haberl decided to once again act as a trailblazer and started to realise his own hotel project in Stegersbach that required investments of 17.5 million Euros.
A stone gave the name to the hotel
The Larimar, this turquoise- blue Caribbean of volcanic origin, is also known as the “ Stone of Atlantis”. At present, it can be found only in Bahamas and the Dominican Republic that is considered to be the rest of a legendary Atlantis. The name “ larimar” is a compound noun consisting of the name “ Lari”- the name of Dominican miner owner´s daughter and the Spanish word “ mar” which means “sea”. Before that, that stone had been sold “travelina”.
Due to its fine grain the stone has a soft and gentle effect on people. This rare gemstone is also considered as a stone of fortune and healing that is to promote emotional and physical health and wellbeing. This stone is said to have lots of good qualities: it is anticonvul-sant, and supports the healing of problems with muscles, bones and joints as well as sciatica disorders, lumbago, intolerances and allergies. The four elements – earth, fire, water and air - are harmoniously united in this stone. This stone and its features gave the name not only to the site but also its philosophy. It is the use of mostly ecological building materials, the brick and mortar construction and the use of untreated timber wherever possible that mirrors the Larimar philosophy.
Room design according to the four elements
“Our Larimar philosophy is quite deliberately predicated on a different approach: The root of health impairment - even long before we feel physical health consequences, lies in our life style and the way we think and behave. This is why we offer our guests the opportunity to change things exactly at this point. We support our guests with state-of-the-art and innovative methods, coaching and treatments, ” says Johann Haberl who is known for his independent and elaborated approach. His Hotel Larimar accordingly stands for a new dimension of wellness, creating a unique sense of safety and comfort, and showing their guests new ways to recharge their batteries.
That is why each hotel room was designed according to one of the four elements - earth, fire, water and air - considering the respective shades of colour, draperies, beddings and the selection of accessories. Thus, each guest can choose the ambience that suits him or her best: the “Earth Room” - shades of brown create an atmosphere of physical balance. The earth stands for inner stability and harmony. The “Fire Room” –shades of red support physical and mental energy. Red colour inspires body and spirit. The “Water Room” - atmospheric shades of blue help to enhance emotional steadiness. Blue is the colour of peace and prudence. The “Air Room” – light pastel colours support mental equilibrium. Light and brightness help to enhance clarity of thought and serenity of being.
Fresh and Mediterranean Line of Cuisine
This philosophy is also consistently realised in the offered meals and beverages. “Since food is the most important source of energy from which the human being draws its life force, the cuisine is the core of the Hotel Larimar. We pursue a fresh and Mediterranean line of cuisine.
We use largely natural products from regional organic farms, whenever possible. These products are carefully prepared over an open flame. We quite consciously do without microwaves and induction heat,” Johann Haberl emphasises. He is proud of his hotel as it is the only hotel in Burgenland that was awarded the “Grüne Haube” for organic and nature-oriented cuisine. “However, I have to add that we have met all the standards set by the Austria Bio Garantie association from the very beginning in order to get the Grüne Haube”, Johann Haberl adds.
Large areas and comfortable standard of living
Luxurious flats for a few million crowns are being built in the centre of Košice City. They are mainly for clients that work in a tough competitive environment and need and deserve high- standard comfort so that they were enabled to create wealth for other people.
Eleven large and luxurious accommodation units with attractive supplementary services have appeared in the city centre. Prefabetón Koš, a.s. is the investor from Central Slovakia. It is the biggest Slovak company for the production of small - grain concrete prefabrications. It has already invested a hundred million crowns (3.3 million Euro) in the vast reconstruction and remodelling of its property- a historical building in Štefánikova Street opposite well- known palace- Jakab´s Palace so that it could offer top managers, businessmen and entrepreneurs high- standard accommodation right in the heart of the city and thus the company enlarged its activities by developer’s activities.
“Philosophy of reconstruction of our property was based on the demand for flat of lower and medium categories; however, there are not many luxurious flats in the city centre. It focuses mainly on clients who are not directly connected with the policies but they work very hard in tough competitive environment, they have to create and work mentally. As they need to regenerate and re gain their mental and physical energy because they are responsible for their business and families but very often they face the risk and they deserve high –standard position... And this can be found in the family and at home. We are offering perfect space to relax there as they really deserve it all,” says Ing. Pete Rafay, the CEO of the company Prefabetón Koš, a.s.
The reconstruction of the whole house with the total area of 3000 m2 began in September 2006, the building is supposed to be completed and approved within next two months. Its result is an extension of a nine- floor south wing to the house, insulate façade, a two - floor extension, flats with not equipment covering the area between 150 and 440 m2 with two bathrooms and complete technical equipment, twenty garage places in the basement and on the ground floor of the house, illuminated swimming pool (8x4 m) with a counter current and an opportunity to equip it with massage tubes, sauna, reception providing non - stop services, security camera system and video „ door - keeper“. There are two barrier free lifts and some flats have their own lift enabling people to get out right in their flat. The whole building has its own heat interchanger; every flat has its own device to measure the amount of heat and use of electrical energy. As Mr Rafay told us, the most demanding phase of the reconstruction was building the basement garages and entrance from the house to the street so that every owner could get home safe and sound and by car.
Space and services are the luxuries
Reflecting “ Euro Signs” from Turiec
“Life of our signs with a vehicle registration number an average life of cars. Our products are in accordance with the criteria set by the European Union as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Slovak Republic and compared to foreign one, they reach the top positions in terms of their quality. They are of a high quality because it is a product with security components that make the design unable to counterfeit, “claims Peter Blizniak, the CEO of the company Turčan Delta, s.r.o.
Photo: the archive of Turčan Delta, s.r.o.
This family business based in Martin has been producing signs for the vehicles with registration number; they have been successful in development of cooperation with their American strategic partner and supplier- the company M3 based on Minnesota. It is a world famous producer of reflection foils. Thanks to their good reflecting features, they contribute to the elimination of the number of car accidents at night and when it is foggy weather and the visibility is rather poor. This foil is a basic material for production of signs with car registration numbers (in Slovak language abbreviated as TEČ- Tabuľky s evidenčným číslom- Signs with a registration number).
“The company M3 has a large scale of commodities for all the branches of industry and a large portfolio of innovating components in individual commodities. As the company puts an emphasis on sustainable development and innovation of its products and materials for TEČ production, our company also takes part in innovations and we cooperate very closely with other partners. The result of the sustainable improvement and development is a new product- a sign with a vehicle registration number that illuminates,“says Ing. Peter Blizniak, the CEO and the founder of the family company Turčan Delta, s.r.o.
There was an article at the beginning
The story of a successful businessman started after a careless fall of the Slovak military industry. He established the production and trading company Turčan Intertrade, s.r.o. In 1993, he read an article in a journal published by the Ministry of Transport, Post Offices and Telecommunications about the change of all the signs with vehicle registration numbers in the coming 10?-?12 years. “This article was a kind of a motivation and impulse for me and I took the plunge and was given an opportunity to manufacture new signs within the perspective and developing programme in our company,“ he explains.
The first strategic step he took was the correspondence exchanged with the Slovak Ministry of Home Affairs. And the second one was participation of my son Peter Blizniak, jr and company employees in the international trade fair called Intertraffic Amsterdam in the Netherlands, which is the biggest exhibition of transport machinery and advanced technologies in the field of transport including the sign with vehicle registration numbers. “The exhibition proved my determination to prepare and ensure the production of new table that were given their name, i.e. TEČ- Tabuľky s evidenčným číslom- Signs with a registration number. Our biggest advantage was already existing cooperation with the company M3 that supplied reflecting foils for production of sign posts. And we extended our cooperation and M3 started to supply foils for the production of signs with registration numbers. They became the core of the production programme of our company Turčan Delta that has existed since 1997. And thus the company M3 definitely became our strategic trade partner. “
Klis Fortress above Split
It is one of the most significant and most precious fortresses in Croatia. You can enjoy the view on the metropolis of Dalmatia from there. It resisted Turkish siege for amazing 25 years.
The Fortress of Klis, a massive and impressive fortress is located approximately 12 kilometres in the north of Split, next to the road leading to Dugopolje and to the motorway Split- Zagreb. It is situated on the rock 340 meters above the sea level in a wide saddleback between the mountains of Kozjak and Mosor. At the first sight, it is obvious that whoever was in control of that strategic point so important over the centuries, they ruled its wide surroundings and the approach from the mainland of Dalmatia to the sea and vice versa.
The first mention of the fortress dates back to the mid- tenth century. It states that in the first half of the 7th century, Avars and Slavs seized the Roman fortress Kleises (Klis) and thus quicken the seize of the ancient town of Solin situated nearby. At the time, Croatians began to settle down in the area. Two hundred years later, Klis became the royal residence and one of the centres of the Croatian state and old?-?Croatian county of Klis. When the Croatian dynasty died out at the end of the 11th century, Klis was ruled by Croatian - Hungarian kings. One of them, Béla IV found a shelter there with his family during Tatars conquest in 1242. His daughter, praised as St Margit of Klis now, was born at Klis.
Petar Kružič- a hero
Klis got through the toughest times at the beginning of the 16th century when it managed to resist Turkish siege for 25 years thanked to the fortress built. Turkish commanders had had back luck for many years although they used thousands well?-?trained soldiers and plenty of hardware. There surely arises the question why was that. The answer is very simple- Petar Kružič, a commander?-?in- chief, a captain and the earl of Klis, one of the best fighters against Turks. Having used incredible trick, he resisted Turkish military forces successfully although there were many more Turkish soldiers. For example, before the core of the Turkish army arrived in Klis, he had gone to ask for help and military support in the town of Senj in the north of the Adriatic. And he managed to return just in time to surprise thousands of Turks and beat all of them despite the fact that his army was weaker in terms of the number of soldiers. It all happened in the year 1542 and Turkish commander Mustafa had to withdraw his troops suffering from serious loss.
Baška Voda has it all
The place is called “Little Vatican” as it gave the Church 12 priests throughout its history and because of its religious tradition while the country was ruled by communists. There are five churches there. The number of Slovak tourist is increasing.
A picturesque summer holiday resort with a harbour situated at the foot of the massive mountains Biokova belongs to the most visited places in Central Dalmatia at Makarska Riviera. Thanks to its long sand and white pebbly beaches rimmed by pines and an easy access to the sea, it is suitable mainly for families with small children. Over the past year, the main beach Nikolina has been awarded a prestigious tourist award in Croatia- Blue flower with a gold sign.
The tourist capacities consist of 10 000 beds in hotels, private accommodation, apartments and camps. Luxurious summer flats and four star hotels are situated right in the heart of this small town with approximately 2000 inhabitants. There are more than 20 restaurants, pizzerias, cellars, bistros, cafés and pastry shops available for tourists located on the main promenade which is always neat and tidy.
“Last summer, we had the most tourist from the Czech Republic (34%). And the number of Slovaks went up, too. According to the statistics elaborated by the Croatian National Tourist Board, 13,000 Slovak people visited Baška Voda last year and having reached 12.5%, Slovaks “came” second. The third most numerous group of tourists were Poles (9%), the fourth were Germans,“ said Ante Jurišič, the Director of the Croatian National Tourist Board in Baška Voda that has invested a million Kunas in the infrastructure. They have also prepared an interesting project- mobile presentation of this summer holiday resort. “More and more canoeist and cyclists are coming. For those who would like to know the sea, the natural park Biokovo, the history and culture while riding a bicycle, we have prepared four new cycling paths with the length of 85 kilometres,“ he adds.
Over the past hundred years, a small village inhabited by farmers, fishermen, sailors and merchants has turned into a modern town and an attractive tourist resort. However, the first evidence of settlement on this area dates from early Bronze Age (1700 - 1500 BC). Baška Voda was established by shepherds and farmers from a small village Bast in the second half of the17th century because they wanted to be closer to the sea. They left the hillock Gradina where used to be an ancient walled settlement Aronia. Baška Voda as a new settlement was founded after pirates left and Turks were expelled from the area. Gradina is now a significant archaeological place. Many tombstones were found under Biokovo but only a few were preserved while most of them were destroyed during construction works. There are ruins dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries, tombs with small lamps, jewellery, coins issued by Roman Caesar Alexander Severus Aurelianus and gravestones with 13 oldest inhabitants of Baška. The most beautiful one belongs to an unhappy boy Ursin who died while sailing and the boat sank. He died sometime between the years 100 and 150.
Baška Voda offers a lot of sports facilities: yachting, scuba- diving, windsurfing, water skiing, scooters and parasailing. You can enjoy playing ball games like tennis, beach volleyball, football, handball, basketball and mini?-?golf. Children can have fun on playgrounds, trampolines and various attractions. In the evening you can join in various cultural and entertaining programmes in the town centre where you can visit the Archaeological and Malacological Museums, and the Gallery MGD.
If you felt bored even after taking trips in the Natural Park Biokovo, you can visit nearby islands (Brač), the canyon of the river Cetina, Dubrovnik, Split, Trogira or a pilgrimage town Meždugorje in Bosnia that is only 70 kilometres far from Baška Voda.
Viničky- Tokay Wine Production
The advanced processing and manufacturing plant for the production of the finest wine was built in Viničky, Tokay Area, also thanks to the European Funds.
The most modern operation for grape processing and producing Tokay wines in Central Europe will be opened on 27 September 2008 during the traditional Days of Opened Tokay Cellars. The new plant is a part of a new production and agro-tourist site that has been built by the company Tokajská spoločnosť Viničky since November 2005. The site has been given a name “ Tokajská Manufaktúra Viničky” (Tokay Wine Production of Viničky). This company deals with processing varieties of Tokay grapes and their production, sales and distribution of Tokay wine.
Štefan Duč is the patron of this significant project that appeared as an entrepreneurial plan in the year 2000. He was born in the Tokay village of Bara and is the CEO of the company Tokajská spoločnosť Viničky, s.r.o. He bought 44 hectares of lands with ruined vineyards that had been neglected by the previous owner from the village of Viničky, which is one of the seven villages in Slovakia included in the Tokay Vineyard Region (It was definitely recognized by The Council of the European Union for General Affairs and External Relations on 29 April 2008. It was at the time of Slovak - Hungarian conflicts over the brand Tokay and recognition of the Slovak part of Tokay covering 907 hectares when it was not decided whether these land would be internationally recognized as a part of the historical area of Tokay. Despite that fact he invested money in sanitation of old vineyards and cleaning the land.
Investment in the amount of 400 million crowns
His dream about building a small “Tokay empire” where he would grow grapes and process them at the same place started to come true in 2005. “After the end of the conflict over the recognition of the Slovak brand Tokay, it was sure that the vineyards located above Viničky us a part of historically and internationally recognized area that was divided into two parts by the border between Slovakia and Hungary. That is why I was successful in submitting two projects for the use of the European Funds. One of them, in the amount of 56 million crowns contributed to the establishment of 44 hectares of new vineyards and enabled us to buy modern machinery, the second project worth 108 million crowns helped us to construct a new processing and producing plant above new vineyards using Italian technology,“ Štefan Duč told us. He is also the CEO of the company Vinohradnícka spoločnosť Viničky, s.r.o. This company planted specially cultivated varieties of three basic Tokay varieties: Furmit, Lipovina and yellow Muscat that contains French antivirus gens ensuring higher resistance against diseases and moulds.
The European Union participated in the total volume of investments that have reached over 400 million Slovak crowns by its 40 per cent (via the Sector Operational Program Agriculture and development of the country). Besides the Euro?-?funds, Lichtenstein company called Estazur Anstalt that owns 65 % of shares in the company Tokajská spoločnosť Viničky, s.r.o. helped as well. Mr Duč is an owner of 20 % and their Hungarian partner Zoltán Hegedüs has 15 %. It has been the greatest investment ever in the history of the Tokay area.
Gentle Contours or Women’s Nude Portraits in Fine Art
It is the theme of the exhibition of the masterpieces by various Slovak and foreign authors that had been organized by Andrej Smolák´s Gallery. It has been held since May to September 2008. An extraordinary opening when all visitors entering the gallery went under the blossomed cherry tree where all the couples kissed was held in Snina in the east of Slovakia on 1st May 2008. Dear readers, our magazine would like to share our impression with you and show you this exhibition.
„A woman is the nicest living creature in the world. Even though flowers are beautiful and butterflies cheer up your soul, this is a different kind of beauty. This is the reason for including the topic of women and women’s nude portraits in our exhibition programme in the Gallery. We will deal with this topic in our program and I believe that we will be able to introduce other masters in the genre of women ´s nude portraits in a year’s time,“ says Andrej Smolák, a fine artist and director of the gallery. Though, who will prevent us from thinking like Andrej does- thinking of nobleness, love and positivism?
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