May 2009

Appeals to Slovak Politics in the election for the European Parliament
Our duty is to keep our national attitudes
You have decided to stand as an MP again, why?
Who is MUDr. Irena Belohorská
Work Experience:
Baranja being discovered mainly by tourists
Work and do not cry
Renewal of the village and its original life
Family Sklepič´s Farm
Museum and village pension
Trips by off-roads
Ethno restaurant Baranjska Kuča
Kosit resists the blockade
Refuse incinerating plant saved by Italians
Strategic Player
New Investments
Diversification of Energy Production
And what will the Slovak Government do?
When will the city wake up?
Quick Solution
TUKE strengthens its cooperation with Americans
Commercial banks lost assets
The End of the World as We Know It
Vojvodina and its atmosphere

Appeals to Slovak Politics in the election for the European Parliament
 According to a simple survey of Euro-barometer in July 2007, up to 72% of asked Slovak people trusted the European Parliament. A year later, in October 2008, the number of Slovak people who trusted the European Union went up to 70 %. These very interesting results show that more people will take part in the election to the European Parliament compared to the year 2004 when only 17% of all voters participated. At the time, it was the worse attendance within the entire European Union and pretty bad shock for parliamentary political parties and their leaders who did not manage to communicate with voters clearly and conceptually. Most of the people ignored mottos, phrases and billboards as they did not understand them; the campaign was just too short without any clear topics and balloon shows in squares and pedestrian zones…
 However, it is not possible to compare trust in the European Institutions to the number of people voting the MPs of the European Parliament. The election is not about numbers, surveys, and poll. It is about people. First, voters have to know, see and hear in order to make their decisions. If a citizen trusts in the European Institutions it does not necessarily mean they trust political parties that nominate their candidates to the European Parliament. Obviously, if I do not trust them, do not understand and do not know them, I will not go to vote because I do not have a candidate whom I would like to choose. And definitely not in the atmosphere when over past five years, political parties in Slovakia have perceived historically first 14 members of the European Parliament as well-paid people “left- aside” as if they were “an obstacle” in their parties and Slovak politics. How pathetic! Leaders of Slovak parties are now encouraging citizens to go to vote…First of all, they would have to explain to us, citizens, how they have accepted and used the potential of the European MPs for the party, Slovak and European politics so far. Where is a kind of a list of their usefulness and political work? Or will present Slovak MPs elected on behalf of ĽS-HZDS (I.Belohorská, P.Baco, S.Kozlík), KDH (A.Záborská, M.Mikolášik, J.Hudacký), SMER-SD (M.Beňová, M.Koterec, V.Maňka), SDKÚ-DS (P.Šťastný, Z.Pleštinská, M.Gaľa) and SMK (E.Bauerová, A.D.Zolyómi) so brave and reveal the truth about their work, how they could enrich the European agenda using Slovak topics or how they implemented the European Agenda into practical political life of their parties? Or will they blame the media for not showing enough interest in listening to them? Just a little example: none of the chairmen of parliamentary political parties have not appreciated work of their MPs in public so far! If one has not done it yet, what can be expected? Any change of their thinking and attitudes towards the European Parliament?
After the June election, the European Parliament will have 736 MPs, 49 less than now. Slovakia will be represented by 13 MPs. Slovak citizens will be given choice to elect people whom they trust in, out of the following: from HZDS P.Baco (leader), S.Kozlík a I.Belohorská (the most active MP and the member of the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament), P.Šťastný M.Gaľa, Z.Pleštinská (SDKÚ-DS, E.Kukan is the leader), M.Beňová, V. Maňka (SMER-SD, B.Zala is the leader), A.Záborská, J.Hudacký, M.Mikolášik (KDH, M.Fronc is the leader) a E.Bauerová as a leader (SMK). If we limit our thinking just to the current activities of the electoral leaders of particular political parties, they seem to be rather insignificant, unable to convince anyone and always searching for alibi. Well, let’s try to offer them some dominant topics. Will Eduard Kukan show enough courage to explain to voters why SDKÚ-DS did not support the Lisbon Treaty and whether he wants to pursue pro- American or European policy? And what sensible might Martin Fronc, Christian conservative, say to people? When he was the Minister of Education, he did not attempt to use the potential of J. Fígeľ, the European Commissar for Slovak education, culture and science! Will Mr. Fronc come up with the question of protection Christianity against strengthening liberalism and Islam? Will Mrs Bauerová leave the boundaries of her ethnical thinking and will promise Slovak citizens not to be unfair and accuse Slovakia of leading wrong national minorities´ policy? Will she refuse the existence of the Hungarian Guard? Will Boris Zala explain to voters how do SMER- SD and European socialists want to fight against the global financial and economic crisis? Well, the last one is the Slovak National Party. Its leader is Dušan Švantner, a rather unknown politician, vice- president of the Slovak National Party and the State Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications. He hopes that thanks to him, the party will have its first MP in the European Parliament. Nevertheless, the question is: why should they have him there? Is the National Party, or its President, able to lead constructive foreign policy? Is this party really able to do so? I am afraid not. Their main priority should be the Euro funds and their use in Slovakia.
Let’s view some topics that are recommended by European bureaucrats to be used in the electoral campaign. Just to remind you that the main task of the European MP is an ability to build up the future of the European Union and European policy. Using the campaign, the European Parliament would like to address voters presenting the most important topics, not abstract ideas. The Parliament wants to discuss topics concerning everyday life such as energy, financial market, transport, safety, science, education, protection of a consumer, migration, anti- discrimination, standardization. What will be the reaction of Slovak candidates to these topics?
Well, let’s sum it up. 375 million European voters will have the right to elect 736 MPs to the European Parliament in the biggest election worldwide. Elected MPs will represent 500 million citizens of the European Union. Nowadays, the European Parliament participates in passing the laws, has its budgetary competence and fulfils the task of democratic supervision upon all European Institutions. It passes European laws (directives, regulationsˇ); it can approve, change or refuse the contents of European legislation. On the other hand, it holds a kind of advisory position is so-called sensitive issues like taxes, industrial and agricultural politics.
The European Parliament shares its legislative competences with the Council of the European Union; however, it is still a club and not the subject of the international law. Which of Slovak candidates understand these competences, has experience with the European politics and can defend national, state and European interests? Should you know the answer, come and vote on 6 June 2009!                
 
Róbert Matejovič, editor in chief


Our duty is to keep our national attitudes
“We also have to know how to protect the state we established in the European Union so that the agreement and the European policy did not weaken its sovereignty and value, “claims MUDr. Irena Belohorská, the Member of the European Parliament.
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the archive
 
This experienced Slovak politician and one of the most attractive and respected Central European members of the European Parliament (EP) decided to accept the candidacy of the ĽS- HZDS for the MP of this important European institution in the election that will be held in June this year. In the present EP, she represents politically indifferent MPs in the highest parliamentary body- the Conference of Presidents of the Political groups. She is the member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Development and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. In Slovakia, she leads the Women’s Union.
 
Mrs Belohorská, our interview is just after the plenary of the EP approved the draft directive about the cross-border health care. The basic goals of this new initiative deals with the application of patients’ rights, Its aim is to create a formal framework for cross border healthcare and remove the obstacles that patients face if they wish to travel for treatment in other EU countries. Which problems motivated the parliament to deal with this directive?
I am glad that we managed to negotiate and approve it before the end of our mandate. Its preparation was the reaction to the resolution of the European court in a few cases in which a patient demanded for being paid back by the national health insurance companies for medical treatment abroad. The national health insurance company followed the principle of subsidiarity while a patient applied his civil right for medical treatment without waiting long in other member states. In all these case the European Court passed a resolution in favour of the patient.
Health care is in subsidiarity, it means that services in this resort are looked after by the national states. It is rather understandable if we are aware of the fact that there are more system of health care in the European Union- state, private and based on the health insurance system. And as there are huge differences in taxes as well, it is obvious that some states are worried that patients from the states with lower health care contributions might use rich system of other states. The draft directive was elaborated based on the resolution of the European Parliament in which we required so that citizens of the EU were provided safe, high quality and effective cross- border health care with the right of approach in any state of the EU.
Finally, we approve the directives in the European Parliament, directives that are clear and benefit our citizens and are not too bureaucratic and needless.
 
Does the Directive interfere the competences of the member states in the field of organization and assurance of national health care and forces health care providers in one state to provide treatment in another state?
It does not have such an ambition; it is for the patients, mainly in their legal protection. It does not interfere the existing rights of the patients and regulations on coordination of systems of social security.
There are some chapters to protect the patient in the directive concerning the personal data protection, control of quality of workplaces. It recommends establishing the unified European register of doctors professionally discredited as there was no precise control carried out there in the past.
The proposed directive is thus perceived as a legal protection of the patient regardless where and how the health care is being provided. A special chapter deals with providing the patient with profound and detailed information. It is a directive of a great importance as based on statistics, only 1% of citizens of the EU pay attention to cross- border health care, However, more essential is the fact that usually it is about more serious and complicated treatment which is not done in the particular country or one has to wait for too long what might seriously endanger patient’s conditions.
 
Does the directive include the issue of free movement of providers of services?
Free movement of persons is on the contrary to providing cross- border health care. I always try to draw people´ s attention to the fact that providing medical treatment and health care, there is no real free movement. It is not possible for a student or an employee having worked abroad for a long time to “leave” his health at home so that national health care system looked after it. This draft directive is very important for transparency of relationships and payments as well as rules for the patient and health care personnel. It will contribute the elimination of discrimination between particular states or it will enable adequate treatment of disease in time regardless the permanent residence of the EU patient.
Apart from that, we need to be aware of the fact that some health care issues have to be solved at the European level- predominately in case of infectious illnesses or so-called rare diseases. Especially with rare illnesses, it is very important to assure so that they could be cured in the centres, at specialists who have already come across the particular illness.
 
 How would you define the common European politics where does the European Union go? Will it be the subject of the international law?
It is already five years since the greatest enlargement of the European Union ever. The EU has had to solve uneasy challenges- economic and financial crisis, solidarity with a few member states, climatic changes and civilization diseases. There is a Slovak proverb: A friend in need is a friend indeed. It seems that the crisis examined the necessity of the EU, on the other hand willingness to help in this critical times. Even Iceland, which had never paid much attention to closer cooperation with the EU, now, expressed its interest in common European currency or possible membership in the EU.
 
What is the greatest EU challenge from the point of view of new solutions to the European future- its structure (Lisbon Treaty) or the global financial and economic crisis?
If I were a heretic, I would have said that if we had had internal reforms carried out, we would have been facing the global financial and economic crisis much easier. Although I am not an economic specialist, I think that it is important to connect national economies and thus create common competition with the players like the USA or China.
Currently, the EU is the strongest economic unit and that is why it is beneficial for Slovakia if you take part in the process. However, common European policy can be successful only if it leaves the national states the right to choose their alternative- it is also involved in the Lisbon Treaty. I perceive it as a modern document which can move a fifty- year-old integration process and the EU into new dimension. Let’s be aware of the fact that all previous agreements and documents are the documents of the old fifteen where new members (12) are just mentioned as candidates. Only the Lisbon Treaty deals with all, old and new members, equally.
In addition, it is very important to know that all representatives of the EU are diplomats and employees from the original fifteen and new members will enter the diplomatic services only if the Lisbon Treaty is valid.
 
The Lisbon Treaty has not been discussed widely in Slovakia although it was ratified by the Slovak Parliament. Sometimes various issues like euthanasia and abortions are mentioned in terms of the Treaty. What do you think about it?
I have come across many lying statements that the Lisbon Treaty is not good because it allows euthanasia and termination of pregnancy. How sad. Nevertheless, such statements are often made by politicians who might not have read the Slovak Constitution either. I can guarantee that the Lisbon Treaty does not contain any thing like that. It is a document which is the agreement of all 27 member states and it was not easy to create it. And once again, let me point out that this document is much better for us than all the old documents.
 
Do Brussels have a solution to the economic crisis? It is said that the prosperity of West depends on the USA, prosperity of Central Europe and Balkan depend on West… The entire present situation seems like waiting for someone, everyone is waiting for somebody else, for a kind of miracle and sudden revival of production, consumption and orders from the USA, the west of Europe and consequently the production in Central Europe would be started up again…
I believe that all competent and outstanding economists and specialists of the whole EU are dealing with this issue. Personally, I think, it is the high time people found their life priorities. The European Union is based on the principle of solidarity so we should find reserves for those who are in the most serious danger- old, ill people and young families. We mustn’t be driven just by consumption and spending our money.
 
Slovenia and the Czech Republic are the first Slavonic and new member states of the EU that chaired the Union. How do you evaluate their activities? How did they enrich European policy? Did they bring any new elements? It often seemed that bigger states (mainly France and Germany) had problems to accept Slovenia and the Czech Republic as the main director of European policy- Slovenia in case of Balkan and unsuccessful recognition of the independence of the so-called Republic of Kosovo, the Czech Republic during the gas crisis in January and deepening the global economic crisis in Europe…
We were all eagerly awaiting how Slovenia, the first country from Central Europe will chair the Union. I am the member of the Conference of Presidents which visits a chairing country just before and after its presidency. It is always about standard interview and dialogues with the president, prime minister and government, main priorities for the whole EU are clarified. The Lisbon Treaty had been signed just before Slovenia began its presidency so it first main priority was ratification of this treaty. Its other priority was the implementation of the conclusions of the summit about the climatic changes held in Bali- mainly about trading with emissions. In terms of the foreign policy, Slovenia wanted to solve the issue of Kosovo and thus reach stability in Balkan. We can say that Slovenia chaired the Union in a standard way; there were many conferences, seminars held. Slovenian government was represented strongly at the negotiations in the European Parliament and European Council. Slovenians were the first new member using the Euro currency and the first state chairing the EU.
After a year, the Czech Republic took over the presidency. Many countries of the old fifteen expressed their worries because of sceptical statements of some politicians. On the one hand the Czech Republic had set up very demanding goals- solving the issues of energetics, economy and outer relations of the EU: Energetics was supposed to solve the conflict between understanding the protection of the environment and competitiveness of the member states but also diversification of sources of energy due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine which endangered supplies in many countries of the EU.
Outbreak of the financial and economic crisis made the economic situation in Europe even worse and showed that the Czech Republic and its representatives are not capable to solve the problem. Unstable political situation in the Czech Republic, many controversial attitudes of V. Klaus proved what some had said that Czech presidency will not be successful. Czechs declare their negative approach towards to European Union by the fact that they together with Ireland have not ratified the Lisbon Treaty yet. Declarations at the beginning of their presidency are in contrast with negotiations with the government. There were a few pyramids of sugar in the middle of the table along with some flowers saying: we will make it all nice and sweet… However, it seems that their presidency has left bitterness in our mouths.              
 
 
Not a long time ago, Slovakia celebrated five years membership in the European Union. And how does it influence the European politics? If we disregard the Hungarian Guard and extremism, are there any topics we can call purely Slovak are the impulses for, for example, common economic or security policies?
I think that not only national themes are those to be called purely Slovak in the EU. There are other issues and solutions that are also ours. However, it is important that many things cannot pass without our approval. Topics that are in competence of national states can be approved without our agreement as the national attitude must be respected. It is set by agreements and our task is to maintain this national attitude. If it was the other way round, it would help opponents of the European Union who perceive resolution from Brussels as a kind of a dictate.
Slovakia proved the European Union its justness and willingness of Slovak citizens to endure uneasy period of establishing our state and managing to solve demanding economic changes. After Slovenia, we are the second Central European country to implement Euro. Slovakia is a leading country of V-4 in the field of economy and political stability.
In Brussels, we mostly present our qualities, but on the other hand, it is obvious that we can clearly define even our disagreement or disapproval. It fulfils my idea of how the EU should work. I believe that the unity in solidarity but also opinion differences is the basic condition for satisfaction with this institution and its operation. From historical point of view, it would be much easier to agree on 9, 12 or 15 member states with the similar economy, democracy and mentality. It is much more difficult to reach an agreement nowadays and in many areas. Nevertheless, the results help to increase the prosperity of our citizens and eliminate the differences among particular countries.
 
It seems that Slovakia became most visible due to its refusal to recognize a unilateral declaration of the so-called Kosovo Republic. Slovakia and other four countries are still against it and are facing the pressure from the European Parliament to change their opinion… Is this pressure really fair?
In terms of Kosovo there have been many negotiations held to solve the problem. I think that the Slovak Republic and those who represented it and took part in solving the problem successfully defended its attitudes and approaches. And on the contrary, if we had agreed and recognized the independent Kosovo, it would have shown not only our weaknesses but also the weaknesses of the EU.
I believe that after the election, the Slovak delegation will not lose its unified approach and will do everything so that the country of Balkan were integrated in the EU and participated in solving prosperous Europe. It is my wish, just because of our Slovak people who live in these countries. They are tired of isolation and perceive us as a guarantee of democratic solutions.
 
The European Union misses the clear East politics. It is not sure whether it wants united or split Ukraine, Belarusian model of democracy, strong Russia and Russia surrounded by the NATO, united and independent Serbia with Kosovo and Metohija, Bosnia and Herzegovina or protectorates of the international community… If the European politicians cannot define their positions clearly, what are the citizens supposed to think about these issues? Are Russians our friends or enemies? Or partners full of energy? How can Slovak diplomacy strengthen comprehension of East Policy of the EU?
I think it is just lack of information. There is a delegation for the EP- Russian Federation relationships, which is very active. On the one hand, Russia is perceived as a political and on the other hand economic partner. And vice versa, the EU is probably the most significant trading partner of Russia. Therefore, it is the mutual interest of both countries to get rid of any interference in the home affairs of both sides. I see that Russia is an important partner in peaceful solving of the relationships of Israel and Palestine or even Iran.
In terms of Ukraine, I have never met with a possibility to split the country. Ukraine should find itself; find its stability which it crucial for its further development. We could observe different opinions of the president and the prime minister during the gas crisis. Furthermore, it is not possible that the countries of the European Union and especially Slovakia cannot be ransoms in the bilateral conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine is given money from the funds of the European Union to be used to develop the state and its stability. Slovakia is in good relationships with both states and I am convinced we can contribute to improve the situation.
 
How did the European politics help you to move further in your professional life? Has it changed your opinions and your perception of the cooperation between the nations in the EU, their history and culture?
For five years, I have been trying to present Slovak opinions and attitudes in the European politics. Disintegration of Czechoslovakia was the first step on our way to Europe and the Slovak delegation in the European Parliament is the last and greatest success in the process of Slovak emancipation at the level of other European states. We also have to know how to protect the state we established in the European Union so that the agreement and the European policy did not weaken its sovereignty and value. It is good that Slovaks travel more or they go abroad to work and study there. Of course, most of them have definitely noticed how other nations protect their culture and history. We just cannot change our history as we like. We should learn our lesson and people did in many other states.
 
You have decided to stand as an MP again, why?
This resolution is a resolution of the political party whose member I am and the candidacy is a kind of demonstration of the trust the political party has shown me. I am proud of having been given such honour and present my voters and Slovakia in the European Parliament. In my case, I will continue with my work, I elaborated more than 60 comments, took part in international conferences and symposiums. I represent non-inscrit MPs in the Conference of Presidents as the only MP from newly integrated states and I was given opportunities to discuss various issues with all statesmen who visited the European Parliament. I have obtained so much precious experience.
There are many politicians from the old fifteen that have been operating in this institution for 25 or 30 years. And it can be seen in their work, they know where to continue, do not waste their time (sometimes two r three years) new people need to understand how the system works in this institution. Moreover, they are trusted by their colleagues from other states and thus they are more successful in reaching new agreements.
I was given an opportunity to accompany Slovakia since the beginning of its sovereignty – in the federal parliament I voted for the disintegration of Czechoslovakia. I would feel honoured to be given a chance to represent Slovak interests in the European parliament again in the next five- year electoral period.           
 
 
Who is MUDr. Irena Belohorská
She was born on 13 March 1948 in Piešťany. In 1973, she graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at Comenius University. She specialized on clinical oncology.
 
Work Experience:
- Doctor’s assistant (1973 - 1976)
- National Oncological Institute (1977 - 1983)
- Expert doctor, Tunis (1983 - 1986
- Head doctor of the Preventive Centre at the National Oncological Institute (1986 - 2002)
- Head of a Faculty Hospital (1992 - 1993)
Political Career:
- Head of the Office of the Ministry of Defence
- State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1993)
- Minister of Health (1993 - 1994)
- Member of HZDS (Movement for a Democratic Slovakia; 1993)
- Chairwoman of a town organisation of HZDS (1996)
- Member of the European Democrat Group at the Council of Europe (1999)
- Member of the Federal Assembly of the Czechoslovak Federal Republic (1992)
- Member of the National Council of the Slovak Republic (1994 - 2004)
- Vice-Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee (1994 - 1998)
- Vice-Chairwoman of the Committee for European Integration (1994 - 1998)
- Vice-Chairwoman of the Human Rights Committee (2002 - 2004)
- Member of the Permanent Delegation of the National Council of the Slovak Republic to the Council of Europe (1994 - 2004)
- Member of the Delegation to the Western European Union (1994 - 2002)
- Member of the Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (1994 - 1998 - 2002)
- Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Health of the Council of Europe (1997 - 1999)
- Chairwoman of the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe (2003)
- Correspondent of the Council of Europe for Armenia (2000 - 2003)
- Vice - Chairwoman of the Delegation to the Euro - Latin American Parliamentary Assembly - EUROLAT (since 2007)


Discover East Slavonia
Ethno village of Karanac
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the author and the archive
 
Should you be looking for interesting places for motorcycling, cycling and weekend trips, I would like to recommend you the regions in the east of Slavonia in Croatia which neighbour with Hungary in the north, Serbia in the east and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the south. This area became the part of Croatia again eleven years ago. Between the years 1991 and 1995 when the country was suffering from a senseless civil war, the region was annexed to the Republic of Serbia. After Croatian military offensive, the area was temporary administered by the United Nation together with the international troops where Slovak soldiers operated as well.
 
After the peaceful re- integration as most of Croatians define that re- joining of their area which is rimmed by three rivers- in the north the river Drava, in the south Sava and in the east Danube, ordinary life, economy, infrastructure and continental tourism began develop in this part of Croatia as well. From the point of view of the Croatian government, east Slavonia is its priority region which is being given the greatest attention and help. The philosophy if the financial support and civilian solidarity often remind of the era of the re-union of Germany when the entire East Germany had to be revived.
 
Baranja being discovered mainly by tourists
I was very curious and wanted to see mostly this bordering Croatian and Hungarian area in Osijeka- Baranja Counties which is right behind the Schengen border of the European Union and near the Hungarian cities of Mohács and Pécs. I had arranged my “exploring” trip in cooperation with the Croatian Tourist Association. This fertile agricultural and vine area is almost 500 kilometres far from Košice, 330 kilometres from Zagreb on motorway, or a shorter route on the 1st class road 270 kilometres. For those who travel to Francis Medžugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is just in a half way.
Like me, those pilgrims can also stop for a while in the region which used to the part of Pribina´s or Pannonian Principality in the second half of the 9th century and later joined to the Austro- Hungarian Kingdom. Its historical name is Baranja or Baranya. The 1920 Trianon Treaty split the region into a bigger part which is now the independent county in Hungary (Baranya megye, 4541 km2) and a smaller Croatian part (1147 km2) belonging to the Osijeka- Baranja Counties. There are more than 40,000 people living there- most of whom are Croatians, Serbs, Slovaks, Germans… They are experiencing tough time after war together. Their present quality of living forces them to search and find better future for their children and grandchildren. Regardless their nationality and religion. They earn for living on their farms, in woods, vineyards and producing traditional food stuffs. Industry has not been developed in the region yet. Home and foreign investors have not discovered it yet; tourists seem to be more attracted, though.
 
Work and do not cry
The village of Karanac is a beating heart of Croatian Baranja. It spreads on the edges of Baranja Plain and is surrounded by swamps near the natural park Kopački Rit. I have chosen it as a good place for those who love the charm of country tourism and home- made products and cuisine. As for example for those searching the sense of their lives and running business in the country so that their activities discovered tourism marketing and gave it a new face.
Karanac is a village established in the 14th century. It has over thousand inhabitants. Most of them are Croatians and Serbs together with Hungarians. Only 67 citizens are of other nationalities. That is why there are three churches of three different religions- Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant (reformed). They are connected together by after war suffering and poverty but also by looking for possibilities to survive and their development. What is there available in the village apart from hard work? Well, nothing special- just field and meadows, domestic animals and old farmers´ houses from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century that represent protected traditional Pannonian architecture. And of course comforting and healing peace and quiet, fresh air and surrounding nature. Quite enough to start with? For many no, but for some yes. As it is said: if there is a good idea and willingness to work, a positive result will come soon. And there is also the saying valid: Help yourself and God will help you along the way. In case of Karanac, the Croatian state gives a hand to people living there. The state subsidizes entrepreneurs who decided to run their business in the field of agro-tourism and country tourism.
 
Renewal of the village and its original life
 Thanks to that the village, which is only four kilometres far from Beli Mananstir- the administrative and production centre of Baranja, is called the ethno- village Karanac. There has been a project being realized in order to renew original country life for six years. It focuses on people who have a kind of relationship to the country and who want to rebuild original farmers´ houses and fields. “Not only Baranja but also Karanac were devastated by the civil war and ethnical purges. It has disrupted the development of our continental tourism for many years. And we would like to continue with it. We noticed first revival in 2007 when the project about changing the village into the ethno- village with original way of life and traditional values started to be carried out,” explains Darko Mrkonjič, an experienced tourist guide from Osijeka while I am watching the longest alley rimmed with cherry tree (250 trees) I have ever seen in a village. I walk across Karanac and I imagine what it used to look like years ago. I am thinking of the 17th and 18ht centuries when the village and its surroundings were inhabited by Germans (mainly Swabs) from Bavaria and Austria who settled down in the area that had been plundered by Turks. I am looking for Serbs who came here after the year 1918 from Hungarian Baranja and for colonists from Dalmatia, Medžimurje and Banija who settled down in the houses that used to belong to expelled Swabs after the Second World War.
And which are they? I do not get the answer. I am also looking for Croatian houses who came here from Herzegovina after 1953 and Serbs from Bosnia who settled down here from 1961. After 1991 they experienced ethnical purges and expelling after the year 1996. I am watching those old houses silently. Some of them are over 120 years old. They are still standing reminding the era of Austro- Hungarian Monarchy and that well- known Pannonian style I have already seen in Vojvodina in Serbia and in Hungary. Perhaps, one day, the will be rebuilt and Karanac will be like a living open- air village museum presenting many cultures and nations. Or an outstanding film will be made here…
 
Family Sklepič´s Farm
 
“Robert, come here,” my guide Darko shouted at me and interrupted a stream of my thoughts. He called me to show a farmer’s house built in 1897. The house has already been reconstructed nicely. As soon as you look at it, you will get involved in the atmosphere of past and often forgotten times. “You can observe life as it used to be here. A front room, a pottery room, a circle stove, a looming room, a storage room, a room where smoked food was made, a stable, pigsty, a balcony facing the street, an attic, a cellar, a smith’s work room, things needed for horse and domestic animals, mainly horses and goats,” explains Denis Sklepič, a native from Osijeka and the owner of the first independent farmer’s house and tourist farm in Baranja. As he told me, he had worked as a veterinary doctor until 2000. Together with his wife Gordana, an accountant, they decided to set up their own business in the field of country tourism. “First we bought a house in the small town of Bilja where used to be a pharmacy. We wanted to turn it into a farmer’s house and keep domestic animals. However, it was not possible because we did not get permission from the town institutions. So we sold the house because we wanted to deal with country tourism. WE were searching for a suitable village and found Karanac,” continues Denis Sklepič. “When we arrived here, there was literally nothing, just long grass growing everywhere and everything was in ruins. One day, a friend of mine called me telling me that a group of Austrian biologist would come and do a research of birds in the park of Kopački Rit and are looking for accommodation we could offer as we had a bid house. I agreed but told them not to expect anything luxurious as we had only two rooms and the kitchen reconstructed at the time. The Austrian guests slept at us and were satisfied. Two weeks later some Italians arrived to film our house. And thus our business began,” he remembers smiling. He became the pioneer in building country tourism in the village and the entire Baranja.
 
Museum and village pension
Over the past eight years of their business, Denis and Gordana Skelpič have received the total amount of 102 000 Kunas (14000 EUR) from the Croatian government. A part of this money was used to build up an ethnographical museum, well, to be more precise, the ethnographical collection containing almost 2000 various artefacts. “So far, 4000 people have visited the museum. Thanks to that help, their own funds and a loan which presents 30 per cent of our investments, we managed to buy and reconstruct another farmer’s house dating back to the year 1910, “claims Denis Sklepič.
This house was used as a village pension”. It offer accommodation and breakfast in six double rooms with a separate front door, a toilet and bathroom and two farmer’s suites with four beds. We offer our guests traditional home- made products- kulen, cheese, ham, sausages, eggs, bread, rolls, special pork meat scones, juice, home – made spirits and traditional wines,” adds Denis Sklepič who loves horse most of all. “We love horses. We love them as much as our grandfathers and our son Stipan loves them as well. Riding them or at least in a carriage, we are able to show you not only the village but also the natural park Kopački Rit or wine paths, take you to catch some fish, to hear a deer making sounds or to rake you to the branches of the river Danube where you can enjoy sailing the boats or canoes. “
Are you already interested and you need to know the price? Here you are 23 Eur per person including breakfast; children under 12 are offered a half price. You also have to pay “tourist tax” of 4 Kunas which Denis Sklepič pays the local bodies. So far, approximately 2000 have stayed there.
 
Trips by off-roads
When I was leaving the farm, I met his neighbour Richard Ruppel from Osijeka whose predecessors are of German origin. He wanted to show me his farm house when he had found out that I was a journalist and I was writing a report about their village. His house was not completely reconstructed yet, but he offers it to guests from Zagreb mainly in spring and summer. “Most of them are entrepreneurs, banker, accountants and managers of firms. I do not have the rooms ready do they have to stay in the hotel Patria in Bely Manastir. However, they do not mind. They come there for longer weekends, they like my cuisine. I like cooking meat stew and roasted meat for them, they like relaxing here and they organize company event here. They enjoy driving off-roads across the country. I have eight of them. We leave in the morning and come home in the evening. We have a few tracks, the longest is 85 kilometres long and leading to the Hungarian borders, and “he managed to explain to me in a few minutes. Anyway, I did not have more time as I had to visit ethno restaurant. It was the high time. I had been starving for a few hours already.
 
Ethno restaurant Baranjska Kuča
It is situated only 150 meters from Sklepič´s pension in the middle of the village. It is owned by Škrobos family from Karanac. In 1998, they bought an original and neglected house from the year 1902 and it took them five years to rebuild it into a restaurant with a wide farmer’s yard (150 guests). There is a children’s playground and a small ethnographical open air village museum focused on outbuildings and equipment. You will find an old granary, a smith’s workroom, a wooden mill, and a carpenter’s workroom in a wagon as well as original refrigerator- a cellar into which pieces of ice were brought from the frozen river Danube. “ We offer traditional Baranja cuisine, bread and meals cooked in an circle stove, meals made of veal, pork or lamb, snails, sheep cheese, fish stew, carp baked in a hole, frog legs, fried fish and home- made cakes, “ Marko Škrobo, the youngest member of the family, said to me. While I was being shown a souvenirs shop, his mother prepared me a starter- kulen, sausages, cheeses with home- made bread. And we had a roasted fish with salad as a main course. We tried home made pear brandy and white wine.
(To be continued)


Kosit resists the blockade
Will Prime Minister Fico and Minister Jahnátek send negotiators to Košice or will the refuse incinerating plant in Košice continue heating or not? Italian investors are shocked, right-winged leaders of the city Košice buried their heads in the sand and have remained silent.
 
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the archive of Kosit, a.s.
 
The Košice refuse incinerating plant near Kokšov - Bakša which processes municipal waste and industrial waste which is not hazardous for production of ecologically and economically profitable heat (steam) in accordance with the EU directives continues in the wide investment programme within the modernization of its technologies and producing capacities.
 
Kosit, a.s., Italian and Košice Company, is the owner and the operator of the incinerating plant. The company is a unique example of the successful cooperation between the city Košice and the foreign investor. The company was established upon the project of the city of Košice and the company 4Italy, a, s., the winner of the international tender on 21st February 2001. The company bought the refuse incinerating plant in a very bad condition and just before having gone bankrupt. 4Italy, a.s. is a consortium of four stock-joint companies- AGEA from Ferrari, AGSM from Verona, META from Modena and VESTA from Venice. Three of them own waste incinerating plants in Italy and all of them operate in the field of waste management of their cities. They also deal with energetics and work on the whole city water cycle.
Having sold the refuse incinerating plant (for 200 million Slovak crowns), the city Košice managed to establish a common enterprise (4Italy owns 61%, City Košice 34 % and Simest 5%) and create a partnership for municipal waste collection and disposal, as well as regular summer and winter roads and streets maintenance. In this way, the implementation of an investment plan aimed for collection system renovation and completion and for municipal waste processing renovation and completion was started.
 
Refuse incinerating plant saved by Italians
“Kosit was taking the plant over at the time when new law on the protection of the environment and waste based on the legislation of the EU. Nevertheless, the city had not many opportunities then- either to invest money in equipment or to close the operation down. The incinerating plant was built at the end of the 1980s and since new managements had been taking turns every two or three years. They did not manage to carry out any developing projects they were managed very politically and moreover, they were limited from the economic point of view, “ says Ing. Anna Makatúrová, a deputy of the CEO of the company Kosit, a.s. As she informed us, past technology missed basic maintenance, spare parts from one boiler were used to maintain the operation of the second incinerating line, slag and ash piled up in the yard, all media suppliers talked about lay-off due to unpaid invoices and staff literally looked for salaries directly at clients using the dustcarts… “Only an electro- filter was used to clean incineration products and all hazardous gas emissions were simply emitted in the air. The economy of the company was in ruins and it was the question of time when the equipment would have stopped working having no options for the city which depended on its services,“ A. Makatúrová adds. She is a well- known environmentalist in Košice. She has already been working in the incinerating plant for 11 years. Moreover, she inspected it as a senior manager of the District Environmental Office Košice IV.
 
Strategic Player
Over past seven years, the company Kosit has invested 14.273 million Euro (430 million Slovak crowns) in modernization of the incinerating plant, equipment and processing of waste and establishing wagon stock. The plant turned into a strategic enterprise which perspective potential of heat production (heat and electrical energy) is compatible with professional conceptions of the further development of heating and energetic economies of the City Košice and the Košice Region. Current energy is gained from the renewable source – biologically decomposable municipal waste. 70,000 tons of wastes are processed annually out of which 400, 000 GJ of heat is produced. The management intends to double the capacity of waste incineration. It will enable to reconstruct the second boiler.” At present, a half of the heat produced is made of bio-mass. We can increase this share according to the needs of municipalities and regions which will have to evaluate their biologically decomposable waste. We offer them this option, “Anna Makatúrová explains.
According to its form, biomass is incinerated either directly or gas or liquid products of its incineration. The Law on Energetics in Article 2 §32 also defines biomass as a biologically decomposable part of municipal waste. In case of Košice, it is 49.8% share in municipal waste. The incinerating plant has Statute R, i.e. important energetic decliner and producer of energy gained from the renewable sources.
 
New Investments
Kosit management has already prepared another phase of the development of the incinerating plant until the year 2010. It consists of modernization of the second incinerating line, purchasing other equipment for cleaning the exhausts and construction of a steam turbine for production of electrical energy and servicing equipment. The management also prepares development of activities focused on waste separation and processing and construction of their own line for ash processing in cooperation with the Technical University Košice. “Developing projects are not only the local ones, they are of a much wider horizon but we also carry out projects away from Košice. These investments will have reached the amount of 22.5 million Euro, “says Alvise Gerotto, the member of the board of director Kosit, a.s.
New investments are just the respond to the resolution passed by the European Union which orders the member states to increase the share of production of energy from renewable source up to 20 per cent by the year 2020 as well as the respond to the 2005- 2010 Waste Management Programme of the Ministry of Environment of the SR which orders to decrease the number of refuse dumps and since 2010 prohibits to defuse and store biologically decomposable waste.
 
Diversification of Energy Production
Construction of a steam turbine for producing the electrical energy and servicing equipment is considered to be key investment within all the new investments. Kosit management would like to use it to diversify the production of energy and most of all eliminate unwanted consequences of the present trading policy of the state company TEKO, a.s. (Heating plant in Košice). Since 26March 2006, it does not take a single ton of produced steam to its system causing the great loss for the company Kosit and therefore endangers stable prices of waste disposal. Since the incinerating plant was built as a part of one enterprise (a former state enterprise Východoslovenský energetický podnik), its primary goal was to supply produced steam into the distribution and heating system of the company TEKO, a.s. Since 2006, the state enterprise has been controlled by the nominates of SMER- DS Party, the steam import decreased in the years 2007 and 2008 when Kosit had to release up to 61 % of produced and unused heat just to the air.
 
And what will the Slovak Government do?
According to our information, Kosit produces this source of energy much cheaper, environment friendlier and follows much stricter emission norms than TEKO, a.s. producing heat from the coal that had to be imported. Until the shut- down of deliveries in January, TEKO, a.s. used to take over from one to three tons of steam per hour on average. When Slovakia and Košice suffered from gas crisis, they were delivered between 13 and 20 tons of steam per hour… What has happened since then, apart from the climatic changes, and why TEKO has, a.s. has not renewed the contract of purchase for steam deliveries for the year 2009. There are some speculations that this strategic partner of Kosit is doing it purposely and thus is blocking the development of its negligible competitor in terms of energy production (it present share represents only 2 % in Košice market) so that it did not have to decrease coal consumption and thus continue reducing the price of the energy produced for end users… however, a question has arisen in this case: is the management of this state enterprise acting according to the instruction of the Ministry of Economy of the SR, or better said according to the Slovak Government which is strictly watching monopoles price policy and fights against taking advantage of their dominant position in the market…
 
When will the city wake up?
“So far, TEKO, a.s had been the biggest purchaser of our steam. Východoslovenská vodárenská spoločnosť and U.S.Steel Košice. s.r.o. are delivered a small amount of steam to heat their own buildings. There are other potential steam or hot water consumers, i.e. each organization within our distribution network and they can be either existing or new ones, “thinks Adelmo Benassi, the CEO of the company Kosit, a.s. Thus he responded to our speculation whether Kosit cannot build its own steam distribution station for hot water and sign an agreement with the company TEHO (Tepelné hospodárstvo, s.r.o.) which is an energy distribution company and it is a hundred – per cent firm of the city Košice. However, will the city government react promptly to the situation and thus will protect its possessions as well as investments? It has remained silent so far and has set nothing yet.
 
Quick Solution
“Our intension is to prepare possible modernization of heat production in TEKO, a.s. which wants to rebuild its steam network into hot- water network in the housing estate Sídlisko nad Jazerom. If your partner decides to go for this change, we will be ready to make an agreement and construct the hot water distribution station. The Slovak Government would like to increase the number of renewable sources of energy and we are strongly determined to fulfil our requirement, “ Mr Benassi continues.
At any rate, the current development of sales of produced energy- steam forces Kosit to find the solution quickly. Time is playing against Kosit. According to the Programme of Waste Management of the Ministry of the SR, releasing of steam in the air will be forbidden after the year 2010. For Kosit it is the risk which will definitely ruin the company.
“The construction of the steam turbine for the production of the electrical energy is scheduled for the end of the year. We already have the building permit. This entrepreneurial plan is not the respond to demand for heat, but it will improve reliability of the waste incinerating plant. We expect to produce electricity in January 2010. We want to continue building Kosit as a responsible entrepreneurial company mainly focused on the environment, “Adelmo Benassi adds.


TUKE strengthens its cooperation with Americans
“Unless our outputs are not products or services, ideas and innovation applicable in the economic practice, we will have to all ask a simple question: Why are we here and what do we use the funds within education and training from the national budget for?” says Anton Čižmár, the rector of the Technical University in Košice.
 
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: Jozef Veselý, the archive
 
Dr.h.c. prof. Ing. Anton Čižmár, CSc., the rector of the Technical University in Košice was the member of Ján Mikolaj´s delegation (Ján Mikolaj- the vice prime minister and the minister of the SR) that visited prestigious American and Canadian Universities, significant scientific and research places and institutions from 31 March to 6th April 2009.
 
Professor Čižmár, what was the main goal of this visit that was almost not been made public?
Actually, there were more goals. First of all, we wanted to know better examples of cooperation between entrepreneurs and academics in the USA, to judge their application in Slovakia, mainly those that are focused on cooperation of private and public institutions when building modern school of the third millennium. We were interested in an American model of support of innovative schools and transformation of the educational and training system for a new millennium, in opportunities to get in touch with educational, research and technological institutions in the USA and Slovakia and further support of the transfer of technologies between the USA and Slovakia.
 
You return from this journey with a Memorandum on Mutual Understanding between your university and Stanford University, School of Education in California signed. What kind of development of the mutual cooperation does it provide?
This university presented us an opportunity to manage and finance research projects of schools in cooperation with private firms. The memorandum provides the base for further discussions, negotiations and agreements of both institutions. Thanks to it, we expect to start up some common research projects and activities. Our university is interested in cooperating predominantly in the field of mobile educational and training systems, the development of new effective peer-to-peer networks (a computer network that relies more on the computing power of the end equipment, i.e. PCs than the network itself) and building libraries of educational and training projects and educational new generation infrastructure.
 
 

Fixing the Fed
(the second part)
 
In a shocking new arrangement, the Fed, with approval from Congress, has started to pay interest to the banks on their reserves.
 
William Greider, The Nation (he has been a political journalist for more than thirty-five years. A former Rolling Stone and Washington Post editor, he is the author of the national bestsellers One World, Ready or Not, Secrets of the Temple, Who Will Tell The People, The Soul of Capitalism (Simon & Schuster) and--due out in February from Rodale--Come Home, America)
Photo: Archive, Azrainman
 
When deregulation began nearly thirty years ago, some leading Fed governors, including Volcker, were aware that it would weaken the Fed’s hand, and they grumbled privately. The 1980 repeal of interest-rate limits meant the central bank would have to apply the brakes longer and harder to get any response from credit markets.
 
“The only restraining influence you have left is interest rates,” one influential governor complained to me, “restraint that works ultimately by bankrupting the customer.” Yet the Fed supported deregulation, partly because its most important constituency, Wall Street banking and finance, pushed for it relentlessly. Working Americans felt greater pain as a result. The central bank braked the real economy’s normal growth continually in a roundabout attempt to slow down the credit markets.
 
Commercial banks lost assets
The central bank was undermined more gravely by further deregulation, which encouraged the migration of lending functions from traditional bank loans to market securities, like the bundled mortgage securities that are now rotten assets. Greenspan became an aggressive advocate of the so-called modernization that created Citigroup and the other hybridized mega-banks- the ones in deep trouble. Old-line banks lost market share to nonbanks, but they were allowed to collaborate with unregulated market players as a way to evade the limits on borrowing and risk-taking. In 1977 commercial banks held 56 percent of all financial assets. By 2007 the banking share had fallen to 24 percent.
The shrinkage meant the Fed was trying to control credit through a much smaller base of lending institutions. It failed utterly--witness the soaring debt burden and subsequent defaults. Greenspan, celebrated as the wise wizard, never acknowledged Wall Street’s inflation of debt. Indeed, he attempted to slow down the economy in order to constrain the financial system’s bubbles. That did not succeed either. As Nation readers may recall, I have more than once blistered the Fed’s inept performance and blamed Greenspan’s “free-market” ideological bias [see “The One-Eyed Chairman,” September 19, 2005]. D’Arista’s analysis goes deeper and attributes the systemic malfunctioning to the Fed’s weakened control mechanisms.
 

The End of the World as We Know It
Welcome to the “post-American era.”
 
By Mark Steyn (a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone)
Photo: Archive, Stefan Rousseau/PA
 
According to an Earth Day survey, one third of schoolchildren between the ages of six and eleven think the earth will have been destroyed by the time they grow up. That’s great news, isn’t it? Not for the earth, I mean, but for “environmental awareness.” Congratulations to Al Gore, the Sierra Club, and the eco-propagandists of the public-education system in doing such a terrific job of traumatizing America’s moppets. Traditionally, most of the folks you see wandering the streets proclaiming the end of the world is nigh tend to be getting up there in years. It’s quite something to have persuaded millions of first-graders that their best days are behind them.
 
Call me crazy, but I’ll bet that in 15-20 years the planet will still be here along with most of the “environment” - your flora and fauna, your polar bears and three-toed tree sloths and whatnot. But geopolitically we’re in for a hell of a ride, and the world we end up with is unlikely to be as congenial as most Americans have gotten used to.



Vojvodina and its atmosphere
By Vasilij Vaso Dolovačky
Prepared by: Mile Tasič, a fine art critic
Photo: archive
 
He belongs to one of the most important Serbian middle- aged painters. He was born in Bavanšte in the south of Vojvodina in 1960. He has been living and working there since then. In 1984, he graduated from the Belgrade Faculty of Fine Arts in the class of Professor Zoran Petrovič. Five years later, he received a master’s degree at the same faculty in the class of Professor Mirjan Mihač. At present, he is a professor of classical painting at the Academy of Arts in Kamenica.
Since the beginning of his works, he has been standing and supporting painting in its best original and renaissance sense creating valuable masterpieces having followed classical master. Motives of his pictures are covered by patina colour, figures reflect his inner state of mind and spirit and the overall atmosphere of the picture expresses artist fluid of a high quality.

 

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