March 2009

When will Kosovo and Metohija be in peace?
Štrbské Pleso will be the „living room“ of our municipality
When are you going to start carrying out this project?
Who is Michal Sýroka
From the History of Štrba
Battle of Čegar
Skins to Sultan
83 years later, the tower was hidden by the chapel
Appeal to Citizens and Slovak Regions
Is the New Democracy left or right?
Angry America and the Bailout
Perverse Bonuses
The “Best Men” Fall
They hadn’t paid income taxes for years
Speculators and Con Men
Madoff´s Case
Petia Papazova

When will Kosovo and Metohija be in peace?
On March 24, 2009, we will commemorate the 10th anniversary of the amoral and illegal bombing of the former Yugoslavia (The Federation of Serbia and Monte Negro) by the troops of the NATO. And why do I say illegal? Because the troops of the North Atlantic Alliance which establishing document forbids using violence while solving the international conflicts, moreover, the Alliance did not even have the mandate of the United Union! In 1999, Yugoslavia used to be a sovereign state and was not a threat for its neighbours at all. Its Army was fighting against Albanian extremists, Hashim Thaci and his Kosovo Liberation Army in its territory, in the autonomic region of Kosovo and Metohija. The KLA, which the USA called a terrorist organization in 1998! This Army (KLA) of gun and drug smugglers and mass killers whose weapons were paid by Albanian family clans mainly in West Europe and in the USA, this Army fought for so-called a hundred- year – old dream of Kosovo Albanians- an independent Republic of Kosovo. Kosovo Islamic separatists declared the independence of this “multi- ethnic, democratic and secular state” on 17 February, 2008 and without the approval of the United Nations! And how did they “fight” for their state in the south of Kosovo and Metohija between the years 1996 and 1998? By killing Serbian policemen, they expelled civilians and burnt their crops and houses, killed animals so that they had nowhere to live. When the Yugoslavian (Serbian) Army got involved just to protect its area and citizens including many Kosovo Albanians who were terrorized, imprisoned and tortured by Thaci´s troops because of their loyalty to Serbia, the Americans and their media alarmed and claimed that the Yugoslavian Army was killing and expelling Kosovo Albanians in the country. However, the Americans had forgotten a fact that the KLA used citizens as live shields. Although it was obvious that the Yugoslavian army defeated the KLA, the country was bombed having the only goal: to put Serbs on their knees and to establish the NATO military base being all directed by the USA. At the time, it was obvious that the American hawks and their political puppets, who are surrounding President Barak Obama now, used Albanian terrorists, having been pretending their intension to “protect Albania civic inhabitants” (who were freely walking across the Albanian- Kosovo border just according to the instructions of their family leaders) rooted in Serbia and put a stop to “spreading Russian area of interest” in Balkan. That is also the reason why so far “these peacemakers” have not been able to give the answer to a very simple question: why did you not respect the international law and why did you not support Serbs in their fight against terrorists?
Kofi Annan, a former general secretary of the UN, was as weak and indecisive as Russian President Boris Jeľcin. They both were not brave enough to resist American pressure. Mr Jeľcin did not send, or he could not send, Serbs, who were preparing a partisan war, the most modern anti missile protection, and Mr Annan just managed to protest in verbal and diplomatic way. Consequently, the Serbs had to give in after 78 days. And the result is…? The occupation of the part of the sovereign state! How come? Although the UN SC Resolution 1244 guarantees Serbia its territorial integrity, including Kosovo and Metohija, these territories are under the administration of the UN (UNMIK) and under the protection of the military troops KFOR being directed by the NATO. In other words, as far as this resolution is valid, the south Serbian autonomy county is still its integral part of Serbia.
Well, let look back at 17th February 2008 when the amoral and aggressive policy of the USA and leaders of the European Union against Serbia. From 1999 to the unilateral declaration of so-called Kosovo Republic, the leaders of Kosovo Albanians continued expelling Serbian autonomic inhabitants from the south to the north of the county by burning and damaging orthodox churches and monasteries. The USA and West were just watching it. Some Serbian communities who had survived are like ghettos, isolated and protected by soldiers! Instead of respecting the international law, renewal of the Serbian sovereignty in “pokrajina” and oppressing the Albanian separatism, the return of more than 200,000 Serbian refugees, Romany people and other non- Albanian ethical groups, a compromise Ahtisaari´s plan of an independent Kosovo controlled by the international community was submitted.
Mr Ahtisaari as a plenipotentiary of the UN for Kosovo reached a conclusion that after an unsuccessful and long term Serbian and Albanian negotiations about the future autonomic status of Kosovo and Metohija supervised by the EU, USA and Russia. Why did he not reach a conclusion that it is necessary to oppress Albanian extremism and persuade Albanians to be a loyal and peace loving minority in Serbia? We do not know. Neither have we known the answer to the question when the majority of Kosovo Albanians will accustom to west Christian civilization, when they will learn to respect the law and order, democracy, human and civil rights.
Allegedly, the USA and West were worried about too much violence if the sovereign or limited Serbian power “had returned to the “pokrajina” which would not have been respected by the Albanians. In 1945, Kosovo Albanians used to be only a 200, 000 minority in Kosovo and Metohija where, from historical point of view, more Serbs than Albanians have always lived. Finally, at the end of bombing of the former Yugoslavia, more than a million people declared themselves to be Albanians. And at present, the number of inhabitants is estimated only- 2.1 million people, out of which Serbs form from only 5 to 8 per cent. How did all those “new Albanians” get to “pokrajina”? How could they migrate through the state border and why has no one conduct the counting of people so far…
After the World War II, Tito´s communist nationalized soil of Serbian farmers and Serbian Orthodox Church and gave it away to poor and illiterate Albanians. Serbs, who were expelled from “pokrajina” during World War II (100,000), were not allowed to return. Communist law forbade them to do so. From 1946 to the bombing, many Serbs left to work and live in better conditions not only to the west but also to the north of Serbia. They found it more reasonable to leave than to tolerate Albanian expansion and patriarchal way of life and thinking. A number of Albanians increased not only thanked to the number of children born but mainly due to insufficient control of the Albanian and Yugoslavian border…And this trend will probably continue as formal checks at the border will be cancelled between Albania and so-called the Kosovo Republic.
Hashim Thaci, a present Prime Minister of the Kosovo Republic, declares his wishes so that all Serbs who had left or had been expelled returned. Why had he “purged” and “Islamized” “pokrajina” from ethnical point of view? He also has not stated yet when Serbs will be given their properties and houses back that are illegally occupied by Albanians. And they “privatized” Serbian state properties, enterprises, railways, buildings, hospitals, schools… Serbs have nowhere to return!
The USA and leaders of the EU, mainly Germany, France, Italy and Great Britain are still silent and pretend they have done the right thing when they recognized so- called Kosovo Republic even without the approval of the UN. Instead of pursuing the policy of respecting the international law, they are organizing donors who have already invested 3 million EURO in “building” civilized Albanian Kosovo and Metohija and its economy. And another billion was approved in July 2008. However, nobody knows who and how controls this money. Neither do we know how this state dares to use the euro as its currency. Is it the member of the European Union who’s fulfilled the Copenhagen and Maastricht criteria? When did the so-called Kosovo Republic become the candidate to be the member of the EU?
Although it has been recognized by 56n states, it is still valid that it is a unilateral declaration and it is violating the international law and has no support the United Nations Security Council. It is also a well-known fact that as long as Serbia vetoes its existence, Serbia will never become the member of the international institutions, or the UN, or the European Council. It is disappointing that the European powers who are the members of the UN and EU let themselves involved in unreasonable and injustice policy of the USA in Balkan.
Resistance of Serbian diplomacy in the international scene in this fight concerning Kosovo and Metohija is admirable. Hardly anybody expected that Belgrade will fight so tenaciously for 15 per cent of its territory using diplomatic means and will resist hypocritical Brussels- quick membership in the EU to be exchanged for the recognition of the so-called Kosovo Republic.
Serbia and Serbs from all over the world are eagerly awaiting the verdict of the UN International Court Yard in Haag (The main trial body of the UN) which will definitely give the answer to the unilateral declaration of the so-called Kosovo Republic was in accordance with the international law. This Serbian initiative was supported by the General Assembly of the UN in its resolution in October 2008.
France and Great Britain did not vote, 74 states were against this resolution, mainly the USA, Albania which as the poorest and the most corrupted country in Europe will be integrated in the NATO soon…
Despite the fact that the resolution is not obligatory from legal point of view, and it cannot be forced either, it is of a significant moral and scientific value. If it is positive for Serbia (And Serbs do not expect a result different from this), it will be very interesting to observe how Brussels, Washington and politicians from other countries who recognized the Kosovo Republic, will explain their citizens legitimacy of the “Kosovo State” which security and development are paid from their taxes. If the decision of the court is negative, we will be curious and wondering to know whether Kosovo Serbs will declare autonomy unilaterally or their own state in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, or in the Kosovo Republic. Does it sound absurd? I do not think so. Do you know what really absurd is? The attitude of the EU and its pressure put on Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Romania and Spain, the members of the EU, to recognize the Kosovo Republic.                                


Štrbské Pleso will be the „living room“ of our municipality
„There is the only principle valid in our country- that we will protect our things and we not want others. We did not ask for “ Smokovecké” Pleso but Štrbské Pleso (Mountain - Lake). During restitutions, mistakes and injustice done to many people, institutions, churches caused by the previous rulers, hardly anybody doubted their legitimacy. And it is the same with municipalities and eliminating injustice done to them when their territories were violently taken away from them,“ says Michal Sýkora, the Mayor of Štrba.
 
He has managed this municipality located beneath the High Tatras consisting of three local parts (Štrba, Tatranská Štrba and Štrbské Pleso (Mountain-Lake)) with almost 4,000 inhabitants since 1981, i.e. for 27 years. He began at the post of the chairman of the local national committee and since 1990, he has been a mayor of the local self- government. He has also led the Association of Towns and Municipalities of Slovakia for 16 years. He is also the MP of the Prešov Self- Governing Region. What is this strong bond between you and your birth place-Štrba?“ I spent all my childhood with my grandparents and parents in Štrba. They brought me up to love my father´s heritage and to adore this beautiful region and praise these precious people who have always lived here. And this is just this bond to life and a man that cannot be clearly defined, however, it beats all interesting offers I have been given over the years. And I have always stayed there,” he says.
 
Mr Mayor, there are some rumours about your candidacy for the member of the European Parliament. Is it true?
I am a communal politician and have been a mayor for a long time. I do my best at work. I am satisfied when I can meet it. I will definitely not candidate to the European Parliament but I do not deny having had some offers to enter the high politics. I was pleased but I resisted. Nevertheless, I would like to work in “ practice”, it is much closer to me and it makes sense and moreover, I can influence it by my solutions in favour of citizens of my municipality and our region but also the self- government in Slovakia.
 
It took 10 years until the authorities redressed injustice against your municipality beneath the High Tatras and its citizens from the era of socialism. Between the year 1948 and 1954, more than 2,400 hectares of lands were separated from the original cadastral territory of Štrba (even against the will of the owners) in favour of the city of High Tatras It is the area of Štrbské Pleso and Tatranská Štrba which had always been the part of Štrba, from historical point of view. In August 2007, after the verdict of the Supreme Court of the SR took over the administration of this area and established an external facility of the municipal office. However, the Court did not solve the issue of ownership of some objects used for public purposes and that are still the properies of the town of High Tatras. How do you comment it?
After many years right and justice rule our region again and citizens of Štrba administer the area that belongs to their cadastral territory. It is not only their right but also duty.
In case of restitutions, the entire process is much longer that in cases of other kinds. I am glad that after many years of our attempts and proving, we have succeeded at all the levels of decision- making- at the Cadastral Register, the County Court and the Constitutional Court.
Private possession is the basic attribute of the constitutional law. We respect that we administrate the territory that still belongs to the town of High Tatras. It is about communication, health care centre, car park, pavements, street lights and the area of community services. The town of High Tatras managed to build them or to get them because it was the administrator of this territory. So together with land and people, properties also got under the administration of the town of High Tatras.
 
The town of High Tatras continues impeaching the restitution demands of Štrba for the area of Štrbské Pleso and claims that it still belongs to the town…
Restitution is a tool to get rid of injustice by establishing the original status. And it is a significant moment that must be perceived by all sides taking part.
 The conflict about Štrbské Pleso unified the whole municipality. All the people, either young or old (who remember the times when Štrbské Pleso was the integral part of Štrba), have been living with this issue. We did not ask for “ Smokovecké” Pleso but Štrbské Pleso. During restitutions, mistakes and injustice done to many people, institutions, churches caused by the previous rulers, hardly anybody doubted their legitimacy. And it is the same with municipalities and eliminating injustice done to them when their territories were violently taken away from them. And in our case is a clear example. Many other municipalities were given back their territories, like for example, Pribylina and Východná. The others missed the deadline- 31 December 1997.
 
Despite the fact that you had already invested 242 thousand EUR (7,3 million Crowns) from the municipality budget in building the basic infrastructure at Štrbské Pleso in 2008, the Constitutional Court of the SR acquitted the town of High Tatras of its complaint and recalled a judgement of the Supreme Court of the SR and returned it for further trial. What does it literally mean to your municipality?
 It is our territory that it registered in the cadastre. Štrba has always had a very close relationship to Štrbské Pleso just think of its name: Štrbské Pleso (and the municipality is Štrba). There had been many endeavours to get the territory back since it had been violently separated from us (to 1990). Our attempts to redress injustice done to our municipality and people had gone its way of proving. And we were given back what we were supposed to. Decisions were being made at all the levels of decision- making- at the Cadastral Register, the County Court and the Supreme Court. The fact that the Constitutional Court of the SR acquitted the town of High Tatras of its complaint and recalled a judgement of the Supreme Court of the SR and returned it for further trial does not entitle the town of High Tatras to take control over Štrbské Pleso again. The town of High Tatras will also have to wait how the conflict ends up, for the resolution of the Supreme Court as we, Štrba did, for ten years since submitting the application to return the territory. General courts pass resolutions of that kind. Let´s just leave them to use their power.
 
The Constitutional Court, its three- member senate, dealt with the issue of violating the institutional rights of citizens of the town of High Tatras who were allegedly not asked whether they wanted to be the citizens of the town or your municipality. What is the population of Štrbské Pleso at the moment? How do you communicate with them? How do you talk about their opinions and needs?
I will answer you using a question: Where were the citizens of the town of High Tatras and its bodies when nobody asked the citizens of Štrba whether they agree about having had a half of the territory taken in years after the war? Moreover, it was done not respecting their will. That is the reason why after the year 1989, new laws were adopted to redress old injustice. The town of High Tatras has never had its cadastral territory. It was created at the expense of the others, despite their protests. The revolutionary committee mercilessly pursued the changes. And it has always been true that Štrbské Pleso belonged to Štrba. And I cannot understand violence separation of the area with 100 residentials (although there were many more in the register). We are in touch with them in writing, we organized meetings where those people were informed. They are our citizen and want to improve their living conditions. I believe that 2008 investments in infrastructure of this territory will be used by both citizens and tourists. But let´s try not to view everything in terms of money and investments. The solution to all the questions concerning Štrbské Pleso also has its human dimension.  
 
Did you know that the citizens did not agree with affiliation to Štrbské Pleso? Or is it a question of the other citizens from 14 local parts of High Tatras? Actually, who did not agree? Were there mainly the MPs of the town council of High Tatras? Did they provide you with any information about submitting a letter of complaint?
Neither, the courts and the town did not inform us about submitting the complaint; no one including the senate of the institutional court was interested in listening to our ideas or opinion. However, completely different approach to the complaint was taken by the senate while judging the restitution f the area of Štrbské Pleso. After the restitution someone´s opinion is not important, the crucial thing is whether one appealing for justice is obliged to get it, according to the law. And we showed it both by arguments and documents as well. We had gone through seven archives and collected many interesting facts.
 
Apart from the restitution of Štrbské Pleso, the Supreme Court also dealt with the restitution of Tatranská Štrba. The Supreme Court of the SR also dealt with the restitution of Tatranská Štrba. The verdict of the Supreme Court proved restitution demands of the municipality Štrba for execution of administration in Tatranská Štrba, however, the town submit a complaint with the Constitutional Court of the SR due to the same reasons as in the case of Štrbské Pleso. The particular senate of the Constitutional Court, however, did not cancel the verdict. In your opinion, there has been a significant turn-round in your case. You insist on applying your legal restitution demands for the territory of Tatranská Štrba as well as Štrbské Pleso. Why?
At the end of February this year, another senate of the Constitutional Court was judging the same restitution and it is about Tatranská Štrba, the senate reached a totally different statement. Due to two different statements of the Constitutional Court in the same matter which base is the objection of the same legal conclusions passed by the Supreme Court in the case of the restitution of the territory of Štrbské Pleso and Tatranská Štrba which had been taken away according to the particular laws, the whole issue was judged by the plenary of the Constitutional Court. It passed the resolution calling for unification of legal opinions of senates of the Constitutional Court in the following way :
The first change of the borders of the cadastre territory of the municipality of Štrba so that the territory of Tatranská Štrba was separated from the cadastre territory in favour of the town of High Tatras in the period between 1st January 1948 to 31 December 1989. This resolution proves our restitution demands. If that was the first change, another change was carried out after January 1st, 1948, including Štrbské Pleso, i.e. the period which the restitution demand regards to.    
 
Nevertheless, the mayor of town of High Tatras responded by his words that it is not possible to mix up apples and pears…
The area of Tatranská Štrba was taken away together with the area of Štrbské Pleso. Both areas used to form an integral territory and later it was divided into Štrbské Pleso and Tatranská Štrba. The decision of the plenary of the Supreme Court is the highest possible solution to this matter and that is why I expect immediate redressing and respecting the resolution passed by all the bodies. The town of High Tatras has never had enough evidence to have a legal right to get the territory back.
Decision of the plenary is valid in the future and obliges the Constitutional Court not to pass different resolution expressed in the resolution of senates of the Constitutional Court.
According to the opinion of the Constitutional Court, it is obvious that the decision passed by the plenary of the Constitutional Court are also valid for the bodies of public administration which after passing the decision of the plenary of the Constitutional Court about the unification of legal opinions of the senates of the Constitutional Court with a final resolution did not decide according to the legal opinion of some people from the senate of the Constitutional Court, i.e. courts, state administration, self- government and other bodies, citizens and taxpayers in the area of Štrbské Pleso.
 
Do you expect the conflict to continue? When is this long- term issue finish? It ca be hardly understood by citizens from different European countries and regions.
The conflict is about the administration of the area of Štrbské Pleso. My citizens and I believe in justice and legal system in our republic. If there weren´t any, all our attempts after the year 1989 would have been needless. The Supreme Court of the SR will deal with our case again; as it id given by the law. A new trial will judge status given and evidence that has not changed. . Democracy is not about choosing the rule that suit us but we also have to respect rights and interests of others. This is the main reason why such a “ case” cannot be understood by any foreign communal politicians.
 
These restitution and legal matters will definitely not contribute to the complex development of Štrbské Pleso and its services in terms of tourism. You talk about a new era awaiting not only for Štrbské Pleso but also for the entire village because you are building it from three parts where, expressing it in symbols, Štrbské Pleso is the living room (the most attractive part) of the “house”. What are your visions about the village and Tatranská Štrba?
Our philosophy of the development of Štrba and tourism respects environment protection and sustainable development of the country. It all depends on its very good geographical position. Štrba is like a mountainous village where all activities may have an influence on the countryside in the High Tatras and, but it has ideal conditions for its future development. There is the highest railway above the sea level in Štrba, also the highest farm and motorway point in Slovakia. It is just the motorway and a new motorway by-pass towards Štrbské Pleso that will have a significant importance in our plans.
The second advantage is cogwheel railway that we would like to use like public city transport. We are also preparing the construction works on the railway Tatranská Štrba- Štrbské Pleso and its extension to Štrba. We need to build about five kilometres of the railway.
Tatranská Štrba is a large are where new objects like a golf course and many others focused on sport, health care and recreational tourism. It is also suitable for construction new running tracks and a SKI tunnel, or accommodation for less demanding guests. We would like to build new car parks beneath Štrbské Pleso and thus make the traffic less heavier and might predominately help skiers.    
      
How?
Our intension is to build up a few skiing slopes and lines from Solisko to Tatranská Štrba 8 kilometres long. Skiers would not have to move up to Štrbské Pleso, cars and buses would park nearby the national park Thus, we would make Štrbské Pleso less busy we would improve the quality of the environment.
 
When are you going to start carrying out this project?
At present, its influence on the environment is being judged at the Ministry of Environment at the moment.
 
Let have a look at Štrbské Pleso, the future “living room” of the municipality or the whole High Tatras. When you took over the administration of the region, what did you start with?
Why did the town of High Tatras not manage to find the solutions to everyday problems? First of all, the establishment of the Municipal Office. We reconstructed restrooms under the bridge and a luggage room having bee required by the citizens and tourist for many years. In from of the hotel FIS, we constructed an open air theatre for organizing numerous social events and boats returned onto the lake after many years, The area surrounding the railway station was remodelled from the aesthetical point of view as well as the path around the lake. After five years, at the end of the year 2008, Tatranský Pohár (Tatras Cup) in ski jumps was held on the skip- jump bridge K-90 and at the beginning of February the Junior World Ski Jump Championship was held and highly evaluated by 26 participating countries from all over the world but mainly by specialists, representatives of the World Skiing Association. Down hill skiing slopes were enlarged in Solisko.
 
What will be the further development of Štrbské Pleso like? Well, people use to go there to relax and to heal themselves?
Štrbské Pleso as the biggest situated winter resort (1346 above the sea level) experienced large investments forty years ago when new ski jumping bridges, sort area, the Hotel Panorama and the Hotel Fis were built because of the World Championship in north disciplines. Since then, there have been no significant investments in the development of sport and its infrastructure around it. Restrooms and lights around the lake lack as well. Many objects are in ruins; hardly any public premises have been maintained. The spa disappeared as the part of the House Helois was demolished and a new one has not been constructed yet. The spa house Hviezdoslav has turned into the hotel Kempinski. I am convinced that over the past years, the development of Štrbské Pleso has not been a priority. The part of the income of Štrbské Pleso was invested in the development of other parts of the High Tatras.
Our priority is to reconstruct of the entire sporting area. We need to modernize a ski jumping bridge where many competitions are held as well as to build playgrounds and reconstruct tracks for runners including the area of start and end.
 
Do you negotiate with the investors? What is the volume of funds required for these priorities?
We have already elaborated project documentation and we are leading negotiations with the investors who are interested in it. We need investors to carry out some activities as soon as possible- the construction of new roads, reconstruction of the sporting area and other object so that new services were offered there. The amount of finds will be have been defined in two months.
 
I hear that Štrbské Pleso ( Mountain- Lake) would like to hold the Skiing World Championships after fifty years. Is it just gossiping?
No, not at all. It is true. If we succeed in completing our intentions, the championships could be held here in 2017 or in 2019. Next season, we would like to organize the World Cup in joined competition and in 2011 Štrbské Pleso will hold the Olympic games for Deaf sportsmen from all over the world.
 
By the way, you are always talking about something that might happen in 8 or 10 years. At present we are going through the economic crisis and we are worried about its end and we would like to help it to end. Will it have any influence on Štrba and its parts?
 Economic recession is the thing we did not really deserve. It caught many people not ready for it. We all supposed to be in better position and suddenly we found ourselves in a bad position.
There is one factory in Slovakia that has been build for many years and it is called tourism. We have to work on improving our products of this industry and its advertising abroad. I expect the economic crisis to quicken the realization of our intensions in the development of tourism. It is a challenge for the entire region and the state as well.
 
Who is Michal Sýroka
 
He was born on 5th April 1953 in Štrba. He graduated from the Secondary economic school in Paprad and the Secondary technical school of electrical engineering in Liptovský Hrádok. He worked as a head of the sales department at the Okresný stavebno-montážny podnik v Batizovce (District Civil Engineering and Assembly Enterprise in Batizovce). Since 1990, he has been operating in many bodies and commissions of the Slovak Parliament and the government of the SR ( at present, he is the member of the Council of the government of the SR for economic crisis). Between the years 1990 and 1991, he was the member of the Federal Assembly of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic. In 2001, the president awarded him “ Pibinov kríž II. triedy” (Pribina´s Cross of the Second Class). In 2003, he was given an award for being the personality of tourism in Slovakia, in the category of regional self- government. He is married and has two grown- up daughters.
 
From the History of Štrba
 
The village is situated at the bottom of the High Tatras mountain ridge. The first written reference about the village is from 1280. Its original name “Corba” was given to the village probably due to its location between the High and the Low Tatras. The village arose in deep-forested area that was owned by the count Bogomír from Liptov. Later it was a property of the Szentiványi, Szmercsányi and Bánov family, all the relatives of Bogomír. Three stars on the current coat-of-arms of the village symbolize these three family clans. Majority of the local population were woodcutters, sheep or cattle shepherds, and charcoal and whitewash producers. They made cheese and fur-coats of a good quality. When a saw-mill started to operate (in 1580), it employed many local people. The same effect had a new railway from Košice to Ružomberok that was crossing the northern end of the village (1871).
In surroundings, there had been two villages - Šoldov (remains of a Roman abbacy) and Hrachovisko, together with currently protected area “Pastierske”. Miloš janoška (1884 -1936), author of the first Slovak High Tatras guide and a propagator of natural beauties of the Liptov region, lived in the village as a teacher.
In the village you will find a Roman-Catholic church of St. Ondrej built in the Classicistic style in 1848 (on the foundations of a church from the 13-th century), and an Evangelic church from the year 1784, having a new tower from 1928.
Nowadays, Štrba is a distinctive village, where traditional wooden architecture was replaced by modern family houses, pensions, and new built public buildings (a town-hall, a post office etc.). Recently, a lot of people found job in tourist and recreational services instead of being farmers.
 A settlements Štrbské Pleso and Tatranská Štrba are a parts of the village Štrba.
Štrbské Mountain-Lake (1346 m) is the most famous and the most visited lake in the High Tatras. It is called Štrbské because it is situated in the Štrba district.
The first notice about the lake is from Dávid Frölich (1644) in Bibliotheca seu Cynosura Peregrinantium. Juraj Buchholtz senior speaks about process of destilation of limba´s and knee timber´s oils by the lake. Before tourists it was known among miners, hunters, wood-cutters and herbs. In 1860 the locals attempted to drain the lake in order to gain new pastures instead of priceless pool.
Fishes had been regularly added into the lake since the end of the 19-th century. The ice because of its excellent quality was broadly used (it was even exported to Budapest, Berlin and Vienna).
The oldest painting of the lake was painted by Ján Jakub Müller from Levoča in 1825. Its depth was measured seriously for the first time in 1875 by Dionýz Dezső.
In 1872, Jozef Szentiványi built his cottage on the bank of Štrbské Pleso. Three years later, Hungarian Carpathian Society initiated erection of the accommodation for tourists, and soon new hotels and restaurants, a spa house and a few villas were built there. Later, the village gained the appearance of a healing spa village.
In 1906, the Hotels Hviezdoslav and Kriváň were constructed and in 1912, an electric railway appeared there along the old road to Starý Smokovec. Between the year 1935 and 1970, Štrbské Pleso held the Skiing World Championship. After the Second World War, the hotels were turned into anti- asthmatic sanatoriums.


Bold Tower
This year, we will commemorate the 200th anniversary of its construction from skulls of killed Serbian soldiers. It was meant as a warning for any Serbs who would have intended to uprising against the Ottoman Empire.
 
If you have never seen a tower built of human skulls, I would like to recommend you visiting the third biggest Serbian city of Niš (260,000 inhabitants), the birthplace of the Christian Roman Caesar Constantine the Great (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus), the establisher of Constantinople ( Tsargrad), the former capital city of Byzantium (Istanbul at present).
 
It is a unique memorial worldwide. It is also called Bold Tower (Čele Kula in Serbian language). You will find it hidden in the chapel in the Boulevard of Taškovič´s Brothers, at the place of the original Tsargrad road leading to Sofia. This tower was built by the Turks at the end of the summer 1809. They used 952 skulls of Serbian soldiers who died during the Battle on the hill Čegar, a few kilometres from Niš, held on 31 May 1809.
 
Battle of Čegar
During the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire (1804- 1813), Serbian rebels suffered from the greatest defeat ever. Turks put a stop to Serbian liberating march towards Niš. Serbian rebels built a camp and a fortress on the Hill of Čegar. However, Turks had much bigger and stronger army and managed to take advantage of Serbian hesitation and indecisiveness. Serbian leaders waited for three months to attack the fortress in Niš. When Turks (there were three times more soldiers) attacked Serbian positions on the hill, Serbian commanders were not able to ensure and strengthen their defence of the most important fortified ditch. The battle was fought for a day. The battle was ended up by Stefan Sindelič, Serbian and Rešava commander. When he found out that no help would have arrived to help them and he had realized he had no chance to defeat Turkish predominance, he understood the battle was over. He did not want to capitulate and give in Turkish capture. He decided to blow out the underground room where gun powder was stored. Three thousand Serbian and two times more Turkish soldiers died there.
 
Skins to Sultan
Wrath of Turks was enormous. Cruel pasha Hursid, Turkish commander of Niš, ordered to build a three- meter high square tower, made of skulls of killed Serbs wit Sindelič´s skull on the top. It was meant as a warning for any Serbs who would have intended to uprising against the Ottoman Empire. The tower was placed at the town gate; each side has fourteen rows with 17 openings into which skulls were bricked in. Like evidence, the skins of Serbian soldiers were filled with wool and sent to Istanbul, to Sultan Mahmud II.
First, Alfons de Lamantin, a French poet and academic, informed Europe about that memorial of Turkish cruelty and Serbian heroism. In 1833, he published his work “Road to East”, where, in the part “Memoirs about Serbia”, he described his consternation and horror when he had seen the tower but he also pointed out the importance of the memorial to Serbs that is necessary to be preserved.
 
83 years later, the tower was hidden by the chapel
From the summer 1809 to January 1878, when Niš was liberated by Serbian Prince Milan, the tower and its skulls had to face the influence of the weather and “thefts” of victims´ relatives who buried the skulls. Soon after liberation of Niš, Serbs built a roof on four columns over the tower to protect it. 14 years later, a pious place and a lovely chapel was built from the funds gathered from across Serbia. The chapel surrounded and hid the rest of the tower. It was the year 1892. At present, there are 58 skulls in the tower, which is maintained by the old town of Niš and its national museum.


Appeal to Citizens and Slovak Regions
The New Democracy- the Power of the Regions intends to be a political party of citizens and powerful regions. The party wants to acquire successful and reliable people from municipalities and regions for the Slovak policy and the development of Slovakia. Tibor Mikuš claims that, although, Slovakia has already reached the goals set, it still misses the ideas how continue the journey we have set off.
 
On 24 February 2009, Mr Tibor Mikuš, an independent MP of the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic, the president of Trnava Self- Governing Region and respected specialists in the field of nuclear energetics, announced establishing a new political party called “ Nová Demokracia- Sila Regiónov” ( The New Democracy and the Power of the Regions) in Trnava. Its establishing assembly will be held in Bratislava on the 28th March 2009 and its agenda conference in November 2009.
 
Mr Mikuš, you left ĽS- HZDS thirteen months ago as you found it rather inconvenient to be its member. You did not agree with excluding the members for different opinions, strengthening leaders´ positions in the party and you missed discussion as well. What motivated you to establish a new political party?
It might seem that there are too many political parties in Slovakia and that there are no new political parties needed. We have been thinking of establishing a new political party for a very long time. And finally, we took the plunge and decided to do so as Slovakia needs a party- the New Democracy- the Power of the Regions. The development of the society in many cases depends on the agendas of political parties. Civil pressure, however, is weakened by the lack of voters´ interest, their needs and natural exchange of generations. Freedom is not an appeal to true policy any more. Individual interests exceeded the priority of cooperation and mutual understanding….
 
If I do understand you correctly, you derive the philosophical vision of the party from a citizen and the regions where people live, work, create values and pay taxes. Is this the sense of your new democracy in Slovakia which you point out using the name of your party?
A citizen is not only the vision of our party but also the crucial point of our agenda for the further development of Slovakia and peaceful life for all who feel at home in Slovakia. If work is the matter of honour for each citizen in the Slovak Republic, then the basis of the political party New Democracy are the needs of each citizen and caring for his welfare as a citizen bears freedom in the constitutional relationship with our republic. People are free and equal in their rights for dignified life. Nobody is supposed to be limited if these rights are in accordance with the law. Only the citizen is the presupposition of social and economic growth. Working to benefit the unit is a kind of commitment and there are the same rules for the New Democracy. The Basic pillars of our policy are dignified life, respect to Christian and national traditions, law and order and the power of the regions.
 
You are talking about the dignified life of a citizen. Nevertheless, it depends on job opportunities and adequate wages for performed work. How do you want to build up Slovak economy to benefit citizens?
By new precautions. I will mention some of the most important ones that are necessary to be carried out: decrease deductions, create fair competitive environment for domestic and foreign firms, protection from the investment drains and legally gained private properties, renew energetic independence like a guarantee of the independence and safety of the state and develop alternative sources of energy.
As work can fulfil material and spiritual needs and can support the feeling of dignity, our aim is stable economy and profitable economy which are the guarantee of some material securities of each citizen. Everybody has the right to work freely to support Slovakia. No one can discriminate anybody because of his/ her sex, colour of the skin, nationality, religion or political conviction. Well, let´s not forget that real patriotism is based on the civil esteem and love to your country.
 
Slovak economy, like the European Union, however, is experiencing deep crisis, downturn and recession. What, do you think, is the best protection against global influence and crisis?
It is diversification of GDP. Every country should try to maintain closed economic cycle, support industries that country needs and can offer to others. We should think about useless bailing out of unsuccessful and foreign projects but to support their own people and those who will not leave and stay at home. I mean medium and small enterprises which are a real base of the development of regions without being worried that after a few years they will move further.
We also have to improve the infrastructure of the country and support what is competitive from the point of view of domestic production. We should return to things that used to be manufactured in Slovakia and which are connected with its traditional production and culture. We must be able to produce all things that we need for living at home. Using our local, human, natural and geographic potential decreases our vulnerability to global market swings and crises. Crafts are also a tool of diversification of GDP creation. In other words, by creating new conditions for small and medium entrepreneurship and care for increasing the importance of crafts and thus improve the social standard of people in the region.
 
Due to wrong integration and reform politicise performed by previous governments, Slovakia has lost its food and energetic self- sufficiency. What can support its renewal?
Food and energetic self-sufficiency are the basic factors of national security. Our own work and rational approach to energies will protect us from import and freight costs will go down. We are able to provide enough for our nation- this is supposed to be the sound of regions. Energetic self- sufficiency is determined by efficiency of nuclear power plants, using heat from the local sources, by saving fuels and implementing new progressive technologies.
 
Is the New Democracy left or right?
We pursue pragmatic solutions to benefit people. We do not support needless division in left- winged and right-winged political parties. We would like to operate in the middle of the political scene and pursue civil, democratic, patriotic, Christian and solidarity principles in our interest in citizens and while meeting his needs. We focus on numerous middle-aged generations at the age between 35 and 55, on small and medium firms which we consider to a driving engine of the development.
 
At the press conference, you declared that as a party of powerful regions, you would like to convince successful people from municipalities and regions to take part in politics. Why do you offer this new phenomenon in Slovak politics?
Regions are the most powerful drive in Slovakia in terms of personalities who have already been tested in practice and are tightly connected with everyday problems at a particular place. The New Democracy will build on people whose work have been examined and evaluated at places where they operate and where their voters know them thanks to their work results. We count on them in our structures up to the highest posts. These people are trusted by many citizens who know their work and performance. We would like to use this potential; we want to have people, who account directly to their voters, in the parliament.
We are facing the crisis at the moment, it has different forms and many different solutions are presented. I am convinced that right people at right positions can guarantee stability of any society and of solution to crisis situations. These people have already proved their competences and know everyday problems of citizens and solve them successfully.
Each of us belongs somewhere, I mean, from a place which our source of energy, inventions and our roots. It is a surrounding where we feel home and which gives us power to create thing to benefit the entire society so that we multiplied and developed what we have got. Only a real patriot can contribute to building Slovakia, its civil society and peaceful home.
 
The New Democracy sees the future of state development in European regionalism and in powerful regions. However, Slovak regions are still weak and suffer from financial malnutrition, caused by centralistic vision of state institutions for the regional development in all the areas. The state and the regional self- governments rely only on structural funds which use is controlled by the ministries. What is the power of region like? What can help regions more significantly?
Regions should be protect more from the state and feel common goals set by the European Union. They also have to intensify cooperation between local and regional self- governments. Our idea of development of regions is perceived through the vision of a successful man, rich republic and strong and powerful Europe.
Being global in Europe, means to succeed predominantly in your own region. A long- term conception of regional development expects to have energetic and transport infrastructure in their hands.
We need a new electoral system based on the regions and real citizen’s interest in public matters and his participation in managing the state. Spiritual and material wealth of the state roots in diversity of the regions. States have their political borders but the uniqueness of Europe lies in its regions without borders. Cooperation is more than just setting up the limits. Common goals and work to benefit all people are the highest political value. Let’s give more money to regions where they are made. Thus we will stimulate creation of sources in it.
And also care for cultural growth is a grant of the national identity and presumption of economic prosperity. Culture is formed at home, in a family and is improved at school. We need higher level of school of all types and grades. Let’s not forget secondary vocational schools, secondary technical and business schools. They can help to develop regions. Let´s praise crafts.
 
Your personal motto is the esteem and respect to traditions- responsibility for the future. What does it contain?
Fifteen years of a new era citizenship make us feel proud of achieving the message of historical faith. Our roots are fed by language developed by Christianity and by it woven national history. Political arrangement of the Slovak Republic and democratic direction of social processes joined us with other states of the European Union. It is time to confess that Slovakia has already reached its goals set, but it still misses the ideas how continue the journey we have set off.
Let me emphasise the feeling of national fellowship, human solidarity and citizens´ unity. Let me tell something about short- term and inhuman conceptions of the development of the Slovak Republic. Let´s point out solidarity with socially dependent people. We really have to appreciate working and entrepreneur initiative of an individual which enables us to carry out our help.
We need strong political party. The New Democracy will manage to join patriotism on Christian bases with civic government, constitutional government and free- mind awareness of the European Union. Slovakia consists of eight regions but at present it is also the region of modern Europe. Respecting traditions and with a great deal of responsibility, we offer a new vision for Slovakia and faces that will be able to pursue it.


Angry America and the Bailout
Ever since the bailout state went into hyperdrive, popular anger has been simmering. In fact, even before the meltdown gained real traction, a sign at a mass protest outside the New York Stock Exchange advised those inside: “Jump, You Fuckers.”
 
By Steve Fraser, The Nation (a visiting professor at New York University, co-founder of the American Empire Project, and the author, most recently, of Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace)
 
Obtuse hardly does justice to the social stupidity of our late, unlamented financial overlords. John Thain of Merrill Lynch and Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers, along with an astonishing number of their fraternity brothers, continue to behave like so many intoxicated toreadors waving their capes at an enraged bull, oblivious even when gored.
 
Their greed and self-indulgence in the face of an economic cataclysm for which they bear heavy responsibility is, unsurprisingly, inciting anger and contempt, as daily news headlines indicate. It is undermining the last shreds of their once exalted social status--and, in that regard, they are evidently fated to relive the experience of their predecessors, those Wall Street “lords of creation” who came crashing to Earth during the last Great Depression.
 
Perverse Bonuses
Ever since the bailout state went into hyperdrive, popular anger has been simmering. In fact, even before the meltdown gained real traction, a sign at a mass protest outside the New York Stock Exchange advised those inside: “Jump, You Fuckers.”
Nothing, however, may be more galling than the rationale regularly offered for so much of this self-indulgence. Asked about why he had given out $4 billion in bonuses to his Merrill Lynch staff in a quarter in which the company had lost a staggering $15 billion dollars, ex-CEO John Thain, typically, responded: “If you don’t pay your best people, you will destroy your franchise. Those best people can get jobs other places, they will leave.”
Apparently it never occurs to those who utter such perverse statements about rewarding the “best people,” or “the best men,” that we’d all have been better off, and saved some serious money, if they had hired the worst men. After all, based on the recent record, who could possibly have done more damage than the “best” Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, WaMu, Citigroup, AIG, Bank of America and so many other top financial crews had to offer?
 
The “Best Men” Fall
Now even the new powers in Washington are venting. Vice President Biden has suggested that our onetime masters of the universe be thrown “in the brig”; Missouri Senator Claire McKaskill has denounced them as “idiots...that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer,” and even the new president, a man of exquisite tact with an instinct for turning the other cheek, labeled Wall Street’s titans as reckless, irresponsible and shameful.
To those who remember the history, all this bears a painfully familiar ring. Soon enough, that history tells us, Congressional investigators will start hauling such people into the public dock and the real fireworks will begin. It happened once before--a vital chapter in the ongoing story of how an old regime dies and a new one is born.
After the Great Crash of 1929, those at the commanding heights of the economy who had enriched themselves and deluded others into believing that, under their leadership, the United States had achieved “a permanent plateau of prosperity”--sound familiar?--were subject to a whirlwind of anger, public shaming and withering ridicule. Like the John Thains of today, Jack Morgan, Charles Mitchell, Richard Whitney, Albert Wiggins and others who headed the country’s chief investment and commercial banks, trusts, insurance companies and the New York Stock Exchange never knew what hit them. They, too, had been steeped in the comforting bathwaters of self-delusion for so long that they believed, like Thain and his compadres, that they were indeed the “best,” the wisest, the most entitled, and the most impregnable men in America. Even amid the ruins of the world they had made, they were incapable of recognizing that their day was done.
 
They hadn’t paid income taxes for years
Under the merciless glare of Congressional hearings, above all the Senate’s Pecora Committee (named after its bulldog chief counsel Ferdinand Pecora), it was revealed that Jack Morgan and his partners in the House of Morgan hadn’t paid income taxes for years; that “Sunshine” Charlie Mitchell, head of National City Bank (the country’s largest), had been short-selling his own bank’s stock and transferring assets into his wife’s name to escape taxes; that other financiers just like him, who had been hero-worshiped for a decade or more as financial messiahs, had regularly engaged in insider-trading schemes that made them wealthy and fleeced legions of unknowing investors.
The Pecora Committee was not the only scourge of the old financial elite. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as publicly mild-mannered as and perhaps even more amiable and charming than President Obama, began excoriating them from the moment of his first inaugural address. He condemned them in no uncertain terms for misusing “other people’s money” and for their reckless speculations; he blamed them for the sorry state of the country; he promised to chase these “unscrupulous money changers” from their “high seats in the temples of American civilization.”
Jack Morgan, called to testify by yet another set of Congressional investigators, had a circus midget plopped in his lap to the delight of a swarm of photo-journalists who memorialized the moment for millions. It was an emblematic photo, a visual metaphor for a once proud, powerful elite, its gravitas gone, reduced to impotence, ridiculed for its incompetence and no longer capable of intimidating a soul.
What happened to Jack Morgan or later Richard Whitney--a crowd of 6,000 turned out at New York’s Grand Central Station in 1938 to watch the handcuffed former president of the New York Stock Exchange be escorted onto a train for Sing Sing, having been convicted of embezzlement--was the political and social equivalent of a great depression. It represented, that is, a catastrophic deflation of the legitimacy of the ancien régime. It was part of what made possible the advent of something entirely new.
 
Speculators and Con Men
Under the extraordinary circumstances of terminal systemic breakdown, that distinction grows ever hazier. That was certainly true in the early years of the first Great Depression, when a damaging question arose: just exactly what was the difference between the behavior of Charles Mitchell, Jack Morgan and Richard Whitney, lions of that era’s Establishment, and outliers like “Sell-em” Ben Smith; Ivar Kreuger, “the match king”; Jesse Livermore, “the man with the evil eye”; William Crappo Durant, maestro of investment pool stock-kiting; or the onetime Broadway ticket agent and stock manipulator Michael Meehan--men long barred from the walnut-paneled inner sanctums of white-shoe Wall Street?
Admittedly, their daredevil escapades had often left them on the wrong side of the law and they would end their days in jail, as suicides or in penury and disgrace. Nonetheless, as is true today, many Americans then came to accept that between the speculating banker and the confidence man lay a distinction without a meaningful difference. After all, by the early 1930s, the whole American financial system seemed like nothing but a confidence game deserving of the deepest ignominy.
 
Madoff´s Case
In that sense, Bernie Madoff, a former chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange, already seems like a synecdoche for a whole way of life. Technically speaking, he ran a Ponzi scheme out of his brokerage firm, as strictly fraudulent as the original one invented by Charles Ponzi, that Italian vegetable peddler, smuggler and, after he got out of an American jail, minor fascist official in Mussolini’s Italy.

Petia Papazova
She is a Bulgarian painter and graphic designer. She was born in Gorna Orjahovica (1975) where she also attended the Secondary Artistic School and in Veliky Tarnov, she completed her academic studies focusing on the History of Arts. As a young ambitious artist, she carrie out many experiments, her works differ in technique and style used as she prefers to use black and white drawings, oil and acryl colours. She has exhibited in many galleries in Bulgaria, but she has also had her exhibitions in England, Holland, France, Germany and Slovakia. In 1997, she was give an award “ Golden rose” by the gallery Diva in Varna and the title of the Painter of the Year. Her pictures are included in many private collections in Europe. In Slovakia, she is represented by Andrej Smolák Gallery. In 2008, she took part in the International Fine Art Festival Snina 2008 for the first time. In March 2009, she will present her works at the House of Art in Košice. Petia Papazova lives and works in Varna.
 

 

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