November 2009

Our Sweet and Post - Lisbon European Union
He does not want the decline and stagnation to appear again
What else motivates you in the regional politics?
Do you require bigger competences for the regions?
In which things hold your region a leading position?
I expected the Košice region to be a leader in the social area…
Slovakia suffers from the economic crisis? How did it influence your budget?
If you succeed in the regional elections which activities will you focus on?
The Košice Self - Governing Region
SPP woken up by TEKO
Many Issues, Many Problems
SPP woken up by TEKO
Minister Jahnátek’s Emphasis
TEKO does not hinders Geoterm
Mr Lazár, why have you asked Minister Jahnátek for help?
Haven’t they stolen this idea from you?
How do you evaluate current position of the heating plant during the negotiations with SPP?
Is it hindered by SPP?
What will you do if you do not reach an agreement with SPP?
Will it be located in Košická Polianka?
What is your priority?
Is it not more reasonable to join TEKO and TEHO into one company regarding decreasing price of heat?
What is the problem?
Who is Ladislav Lazár?
America’s Teacher
Platonic Eros

Our Sweet and Post - Lisbon European Union
The Lisbon Treaty which moved the member states of the European Union into another phase of their gradual and sophisticated transformation from the common economic space into a United “States of Europe”, has gone through a two- year process of ratification. However, it has not been approved by the citizens (apart from two Irish referenda) to whom it concerns most, but by the MPs of the national parliaments, i.e. people being protected by the legislative immunity. Competence crisis in which the European Union and its member states appeared in 2005 is not over yet, well, partially, and the silent war among the states, national governments and the European Commission still continues.
The citizens of the Union face a very tough dilemma. Even though the European Union is a subject of the international law, they still do not understand whether, since 1 December 2009, the Union is a new state, a semi- state or still an “elite club” in which competitive and disagreeing politicians of economically biggest and most powerful states dictate the way of thinking, integration and the rules to weak politician of smaller and small states, i.e. to a so-called “dependent appendix“of their European market and the European Central Bank.
The Lisbon Treaty is a product of German presidency and it is an obvious transition towards the European constitution which had been served quite early (five years ago) by the federalists and politician to unprepared and spoilt citizens in west Europe and na?ve poor citizens in Central Europe. It was ratified only in the national parliaments. Or it might have been just a costly paid test or the public opinion poll on how the Europeans from both “Old and New Europe” are ready for the unification of their state.
Nevertheless, let’s talk about citizens in terms of subsidiarity. A citizen does not understand why there are ministers of foreign affair, one in the European Union, one in the member state. Which one is more important then? National or European? Or the national one will be “a secretary” of the European one who will present the only opinion of the 27 member states in the world? Or what is the prime minister for when the European Union has its own government, the European Commission whose president will be voted by the European Parliament? I mean, the institution that has no standard legislative competences in the full scale as the nation parliament? Only the European Commission has the right of legislative initiation and the European Parliament has just limited common decision making competences…
Or let’s think about the issue how a citizen should perceive his/ her double citizenship- the European one and the national one? Or are the rights of a EU citizen and a citizen of the nation state, Are these rights equal? Is he a citizen of both states? For example, can extremists from one state break the laws of another member state when they walk into the territory of the other state and being at the football stadium they offend and insult the member state they visited? How is the Minister of Home Affairs binding to act? According to which law? Or can he even take an action as there is free movement of persons in the EU and its Schengen area and the right for freedom of opinions and ideas is being applied here?
According to the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union has competences just in the areas in which it has exclusive legislative competences. The mentioned areas are as following- the custom union, setting up the rules of economic competition necessary for functional internal market, currency policy for the member states with the main currency Euro, the conservation of sea biological sources within the common policy of fishing industry and the common trade policy. If the member states give over the Union exclusive competences in a particular area, thus the Union can carry out legislative actions and pass legally binding acts only in this area. And the member state can do so only if the Union authorized it. Apart from that, the Union has an exclusive competence to sign an international contract providing its signing is stated in the legislative act of the Union or if signing of such agreement is needed for the Union to apply its internal competences.
The Union has a right to carry out acts to support, coordinate or supplement the activities of the member states in the field that are exclusively the competences of the member states. It is the protection and improvement of people’s health, industry, culture, tourism, education, scientific trainings, youth and sports, civic protection and administrative cooperation.
The third part of competences is the one that has been significantly causing tension and conflicts, i.e. areas with the common competences of the member state and the Union which also has its legislative competence. It means that it can take legislative actions and pass legally binding acts. However, pay attention, please, the member states execute the competences only to the extent in which the Union has not executed its competence or in which it has decided to stop executing its competence. And which “areas” am I talking about? The internal market, social policy (providing it is about the aspects defined in the Treaty on the European Union), economic, social and territorial coherence, agriculture and fishing industry excluding the conservation of the sea biological sources, environment, protection of consumers, transport, trans- European networks, energetics, space of freedom, security and justice, common issues of security in terms of public health providing they are the aspect defined in the Treaty on the European Union.
The European Union has its competences to act and carry out common policy in the fields of research, technical development, outer space, development cooperation and humanitarian help, however, it cannot interfere acting of the member state and carrying out their own competences.
These new competence conflicts might also be a reason why no celebrations of the Lisbon Reforming Treaty are being held at the moment. And furthermore, instead of providing the citizens of the Union with more information about how their European and national lives will be easier, we are witnessing lobbying struggles for the posts of the president of the European Commission and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the European Union. Now and again without presence or influence of the citizens of the European Union.
Róbert Matejovič,
editor in chief


He does not want the decline and stagnation to appear again
It is time for new reforms in the field of regional politics so that people living in the regions were free to be able to make decisions on their future in terms of matters concerning them directly. However, so far, all decisions are made centrally, “thinks Zdenko Trebuľa, the president of the Košice Self- Governing Region.
 
Róbert Matejovič
Jozef Veselý
 
He has been in the communal and regional politics for 11 years. He began as a deputy of the mayor of Košice, then he was a mayor and after six years he was a successful candidate for the post of the president of the Košice self - governing region. As a left - winged politician (the member of the SMER - SD party) he has earned the reputation of a developing clerk supporting pragmatic and reasonable solutions to various issues. He managed to consolidate declining economic and social conditions not only in the city but also in the whole region, i.e. the region that had been suffering from crisis and stagnation before he was appointed to his post. “What I consider my very best success the fact that there had been no scandals we had had to resolve regarding violating the legislation. It evidenced the quality and responsibility during work,“ says this 54 - year old native from martin. He has a doctoral degree in law; he graduated from the Faculty of Law at Pavol Jozef Safarik´s University.
 
MR Trebula, why did you decide to take the candidacy for the president of the Košice Self- Governing Region?  
 I judged this question very carefully, firstly, from my personal point of view when I was thinking whether and why I should be a candidate or not. However, the decision to be a candidate is not about me but also people who work with me, about the party structures, mayors. Significant majority approved my candidacy and put a pressure on me so that I accepted the candidacy. Worries about the further development in the region if right- winged parties won the election and ruled the city of Košice were taken into consideration as well. Representatives of this local right are not able to create, are diversified, have no conception, are incapable to solve problem to benefit all the citizens. And we definitely do not want the state of decline and stagnation of the years 2001-2005 appear again.
 
What else motivates you in the regional politics?
It is a matter of inevitable complex reform of the public administration. My ideas I had about the operation of the self- governing regions four years ago and those I have nowadays are rather different. I think that the self- governing regions are ready and capable to take over other competences that would make life of people living in the region easier. First of all, however, they have to have competences that would give them opportunity and the right to enter not just into the preparation of strategic conceptions and plans but also into their carry-out. They do not have them so far- we must be aware of it. It means that our territorial plans, proposals, instructions and visions do not have to be respected in the fields of state administration, neither are they by entrepreneurs, institutions and natural persons. They are not obligatory. For example, the attempts to mine uranium at Jahodná near Košice or spheroid in the Tokay area which, luckily, we managed to stop after having put a lot of pressure. : It is time for new reforms in the field of regional politics so that people living in the regions were free to be able to make decisions on their future in terms of matters concerning them directly. However, so far, all decisions are made centrally. If this reform is not carried out in the following electoral period of the Slovak parliament, the public administration will occur in crisis. I discussed this issue with the prime minister and the speaker of the Slovak parliament.
 
Do you require bigger competences for the regions?
Yes, we want to achieve the level of those in the Czech Republic. If we want to move forward and if we have to take responsibility, we must have particular tools so that we could put them into practice. I am deeply convinced that the reform of the public administration does not concern just us, the self- government of the second grade. Many special bodies of state administration need a reform as well. The local first grade self - government (cities, town and villages) can assure execution of the state administration only if the regional self - administration worked as the grade of appeal.
 
Has the Košice Self- Governing region fallen behind other regions in Slovakia?
There are areas in which our region is behind the others, for example in the development of infrastructure and in the number of investments that have come to us over the past ten years. The main reason for that is underdeveloped infrastructure and predominantly missing connection of the region with the motorway network. Nevertheless, the state is in charge of constructions of motorways and primary roads.
 
In which things hold your region a leading position?
The situation changes from month to month, from week to week. Surely, we have done a lot in the field of secondary education mainly within the secondary specialized education in which we belonged to the leaders in Slovakia. The most significant was the approval of the Conception of specialized education. We were the first in Slovakia who established and opened the centres of specialized education having cooperated closely with the secondary specialized and secondary technical schools and employers. There are six centres of that kind- at the Secondary School of Trade and Services (hotel services, trade and services) and the Secondary Electrotechnical School (electronics and informatics) in Michalovce, Secondary Technical School (civil engineering) in Košice, Secondary Technical School Košice- Šaca (metallurgy and machinery production), Secondary Technical School Ostrovského in Košice (information and network technologies) and Secondary Technical School of Mechanical engineering (mechanical engineering) in Spišská Nová Ves. The main tasks of the centres are to provide practical education and training students of secondary vocational schools and close schools in similar branches, preparation of teachers of specialized subjects, their re-training for using new technologies, improvement of teachers´ qualifications and trainers of specialized subjects. We will create other centres of specialized training and education based on basic requirements.  
 
I expected the Košice region to be a leader in the social area…
We also did a great deal of work in this field. We contribute to the social area and the network of social facilities twice more than we used to in 2005. With the total amount of almost 27 million Euros (800 million crowns) our region belongs to the regions which have given most money in the social area this year. We have received 940,000 Euro from the national budget to invest in the projects focused on the improvement of lives of clients in these facilities providing social services. Moreover, we acquired other 2.3 million Euros from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism for the hydro-therapeutic centre for the clients of the house of the social services in Prakovce and we used the money from the structural funds for insulation and assembly of new window in the facility for seniors and for the house of the social services in Košice- Barca. At present, other six projects have been elaborated and submitted with the total costs of 11.5 million Euros. The investments are focused on barrier free accesses in the buildings, decrease of energetic demand, purchasing of aids for disabled people, of high-quality snap beds, lifting devices, interior equipment what will, all in all, contribute to the improvement of provided social services. Every year, we invest more than 40% of our income into social area. Between the years 2006 and 2009, we invested over 80 million Euros (2.4 billion crowns) into social services.
 
In spite of that, the region budget is surplus during your electoral period. How did you manage that? When you were appointed to your post, hidden debts had reached up to 2.2 million Euros. (70 million crowns)…
It has always been surplus as we afforded only what we had money for. Our basic source of revenue is based on the individual income costs. It splits between the regional self - government and the self - government of towns and municipalities. The second tax source is the vehicle tax.
In December 2006, the region signed a lending contract with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for lending 46.4 million Euros (1:4 billion crowns). The funds were used for financing the repairs on the roads of the second and third categories, some schools and historical buildings. If we had not lent the money, we would not have had to do anything significant. We would just be sitting and crying how miserable we are. And to make some excuses that the money we get from taxing is enough to maintain the existing state. I mean enough to get by but not enough to develop.
 
Slovakia suffers from the economic crisis? How did it influence your budget?
The economic crisis, increase of the unemployment rate, decrease of income, signing off vehicles- all these aspects mean the profound fall in income to us. Thus, we have lost 16.5 million Euro (500 million crowns) this year. We could have invested this money in carrying out the conception of the development of sports that we had prepared and approves ad the only region in Slovakia. Unfortunately, we had to “freeze” it as we do not have money for it.
If I had not got involved in the preparation of the 2009 regional budget in November 2008, we would have had serious problems. At the time I asked all the MPs to be reasonable with planning so that we did not start investments we would not have enough money for. Their conservation would have cost much more. We can give only as much as we have. The social area cannot be given less as to would be at the expense of people. In the future, the president of the self- governing region should not leave the support of social area and create such conditions, possibly at the expense of other activities so that they maintained it. Many people in the social facilities are not able to live without our help and money in the 21st century.
Let us not forget that over the past 20 years, we have inherited billions of debts not carried out by the state. We have to set priorities and now, we can just complete what has already been started and run. We are searching for the way how to continue.
 
Our financial policy has been evaluated positively by the rating agencies. In the years 2008 and 2009, the region was ranked the national ranking in the grade AA1, in February 2009; our region was given A3 by Global Scale Rating. You are the only Slovak region that had the global scale rating elaborated. What does it mean for the region?
These ratings prove that we are pursing conservative financial policy. The result of the international rating id important mostly regarding new investment opportunities and potential investors in the Košice Self- Governing Region.
 
However, they are not coming to the region significantly. How do you evaluate the creation of economic conditions and investment stimuli for the entrance of new domestic and foreign investors, construction industrial parks? Right-winged parties in the region criticize just the regional self- government and its leaders that they are very passive in this way and that they do not offer, for example, tax and investment stimuli…
It is demagogy. Those who claim that are not aware of the competences of the region. Regions have no competences in terms of taxing and other stimuli. They do not have territorial competence; they create and prepare serious materials, frame strategies and information for investors, information about the regions, towns and municipalities that are worth going. Industrial parks are supervised by cities, town and municipalities. We can just say whether we agree or disagree with their construction within our territorial plan.
On the other hand, town, cities and municipalities are in charge of taxing, for example estate taxing which we can cancel for a particular period of time or decrease it. Why this investment stimulus not used and they are always complain about the drop-out of the income part of the budget? Our region finances many museums, galleries, theatres. When we asked some other cities not to give us estate tax for cultural facilities, some cities responded positively. Some cities responded positively, some negatively. And thus do we have to tell them to pay themselves for the culture and its development?
 
After 20 years after the Velvet Revolution, the Košice Region has not been connected to motorway or speedway network. Although taxes of our citizens were used to finance construction of motorways in the Czech Republic and are still used for motorway in the west of Slovakia. Citizens complain and criticize that there was not a single kilometre of a motorway built during this electoral period; neither was built the speedway R4 Košice- Miskolc that would connect the region with the Hungarian motorway network. You, personally, have been criticizing this situation for ages. How long is it going to last?
They cannot influence the fact that the motorway has not been started to be built from the east to the west. We are lobbying, requiring, begging. We do not have more possibilities. We must be satisfied with the knowledge that the motorway is approaching to our region and that once it will go to the east border with Ukraine.
While talking about R4, in 2002, Mr Dzurinda promised two times (in front of the public) that this road would come to its existence. In 2006, when Robert Fico´s administration began, new facts were revealed. R4 had not even been included in plans of the Ministry of Transport! Over the past three years, the system of preparation works has been initiated and at present, lands are supposed to be purchased at the moments. However, it is not so because a new problem appeared now on the Hungarian side that has been changing the point of the connection of the Slovak part to the Hungarian part. Furthermore, discussions between the Ministry of Transport and the Hungarian Ministry of Financing are being led about who is in charge of this part of the motorway. I am interested and insist on solving this matter. The most recent information I have says that the construction of the road is due to start as it is one of the goals of a few- item common declaration of the Slovak and Hungarian Prime Minister.
 
Is the construction of the infrastructure one of the priorities of your vision of the further development of the region?
Naturally, we have to continue in its construction. There are some districts where the roads of the Second and Third categories that have not been repaired for twenty and thirty years, even in some case almost forty years! The state gave up responsibility and we are in charge of it now without having been paid a single penny and in very bad conditions. During my electoral period, we have managed to repair 552 kilometres of roads what is a quarter of those that our region owns. The total value of repairs exceeded the sum of 75 million Euro (2.2 billion crowns). The number of roads in a very good condition increased from zero to 26 per cent. Just to compare, in the years 2001 and 2005, just over 80 kilometres of roads were repaired. If tax revenue continue decreasing, it will be very difficult to ensure money for repairs. Moreover, we are worried about the negative influence of the implementation of the electronic toll on the increase of transport on the regional roads that are not ready for high- weighed trucks. We are warning about this risk that can damage both repaired and also not repaired road infrastructure.
 
The region elaborated and approved a few important and strategic materials focused on the regional development. They are based on the 2007- 2013 Program of the Economic and Social Development of the Košice Self- Governing Region. Within the cooperation with cities and villages, a database of development project intensions for using the funds of the European Union. Do you have the analysis of the investment environment and prognosis of its development? What is necessary to be done for the further development of the region?
In order to create suitable investment environment, strengthen cooperation with the local self- government in the towns and municipalities, to create partnerships with entrepreneurial subjects, employers, civil administration, universities, research, development institutions and workplaces, with non- governmental organizations and civil associations.
The regional development must be focused on the investment and non-investment capacities which are able to strengthen competitiveness and diversify economic structure of the region. The main priority is the formation of clusters, i.e. enterprises with similar scope activities what will effectively and together solve problems and meanwhile attract other enterprises in the area of the region.
 
If you succeed in the regional elections which activities will you focus on?
I will pay attention mainly to support establishment and construction of centres of excellence at universities and research centres, to support creation of creative and green economy. We would like to establish the Regional Innovation Centre and develop transfer of new technologies and innovations within it. We have prepares a project for forming the Regional multi-functional centre (RMC) and revitalization of premises of brown zone in Strojárska Street in Košice where we would like to create technical and technological conditions for replacement small and medium enterprises focused on the fields of research, development, services and light production.
In cooperation with the Technical University Košice, we would like to establish a technological centre for creativity and design, to support the development of Košice IT Valley and form the cluster of information technologies. We need to elaborate energetic policy of the region into sub-regions, to start up the use of renewable sources of energy, to prepare mineral sources policy and elaborate strategy of the development of the country in further micro-regions, analysis of current needs of close- border labour market with the north of Hungary and continue developing cross- border cooperation with Hungary and Ukraine.
 
The development of tourism has just been at its early start in the region recently. It is closely related to the country and its needs. Has the region already elaborated the strategy of the country tourism?
We consider tourism significant area of the regional development. Our referent of the tourism has already elaborate the strategy of the country development in cooperation with the towns an municipalities, the strategy also deals with the sub- regions of the Slovak Paradise, Upper Gemer- Slovak Crest, Zemplínska Šírava- Morské Oko, Tokay Vineyard Area, into micro- regions of Polužie, Borolo and Koromľa and a sub- region of Medzibodrožie. However, we do not have competences and are still waiting when the parliament approves the law being prepared on tourism that gives competences to the regions.
We also participate in the international project Robinwood for using new renewable sources of energy with the emphasis on the use of local sources, mainly biomass. We elaborated the task for the conceptual document for the development of cycling paths and we are a coordinator of the international project Knowbridge that is focused on the use of the renewable sources of energy. They are perceived to be of a great potential not only for building aqua parks but also country tourism and cross- border cluster of renewable sources of energy between our region and the Borsód-Abaúj-Zemplén Region in Hungary.
We have established the Regional Council for Tourism that is supposed to help us make cooperation more effective and to improve planning and strategic direction when building regional tourism, coordinate interests of municipalities, town, micro- regions and entrepreneurs in the field of tourism.
 
The most significant activity of the region in the field of culture is involvement of its institution in the project Košice- the European Capital City of culture 2013. In the project Wandering in Terra Incognita we want to connect culture, tourism and regional development of four historical routes- Gothic, Wine, Iron and King- Caesar Post one. What do you expect from this project?
This project is geographically focused on the whole Košice region. It is an alternative and also it is a part of the cultural offer and services for the visitors of Košice and our region. It is the main ideological intention of the Plan of the Economic and Social Development of the Košice Self- Governing Region in the programming period between 2007 and 2013 in the field of culture. We hope this project will initiate bigger activity of domestic potential and attracting larger number of foreign visitors.
Its crucial idea is wandering across the unknown land which history is inseparable part of the European cultural heritage. We would like to show connection between cultural traditions of our region with European cultural traditions. We would like to record this mutual connection by historical routes which have always been the connection between individual cultures in the old continent.
The routes present the common history in the common Austro- Hungarian monarchy and thus they cab be close to all the nations that used to live in it. According to the information from the travel agencies, Belgians and Dutch are interested in our history and nature, Austrians and Hungarians search for monarchy and places tightly connected to the life of historical noble families, Germans search for their predecessors in Slovakia- mainly Spiš and gothic, Czechs prefer nature and the mountains. Four historical routes will enable each visitor to choose what he /she is interested in. Historical routes going through our regions crossed the borders of the monarchy and went across Europe from the east to the west and from the north to the south. The international trade of those times required this trading system. However, for a present tourist it is a challenge to choose the part of the historical routes that he/she like most, one that will enrich a visitor and provide him new knowledge and cultural experience.
 
Have you already signed the contract on cooperation with the city of Košice in the project the European City of Culture 2013? It allegedly took you six months to convince the representatives of the city to sign this contract…
Well, the contract has already been signed. We wanted it so that the future position of the city and the region were more than clear. The city had not been willing to sign a contract and say whether the region would be the partner of the project that I had begun working on when I was the mayor. At the time, my vision was so that project became the cross- regional project into which Prešov region and the city of Prešov were involved and within the cross - border cooperation the northeast Hungary, southeast Poland and a part of the west Ukraine that consider Košice a historical metropolis. My feeling is, and I have already expressed in my statements that a group of people - representatives privatized this project and withdrew it to Košice. They are quite close and pursue only their ideas and do not respect the others. That is why we came up with a project Terra Incognita. Ice-Hockey championship held in 2011 is involved in the project the European Capital City of Culture. It was the only one of those that contributes to the fact that we have a modern - Steel Arena what was the main condition for Slovakia to give it s chance to organize the world’s championship here.
The self - governing region would like to use 6.3 million Euro (190 million crowns) in carrying out this project from its own credit or budget sources. At present, there are the only finances to support this project financed by public as they are not responsible. It is the matter of town, region and central bodies.
 
If the economic crisis deepens again and the country will suffer from the decrease of salaries, what kind of solution will you be searching for?
WE will search the way through the structural funds of the European Union. Our department of implementation which is not only the mediating body of the Regional operational programmes, it accessed, he accepted the appeal of the Regeneration of seats. There have been 59 projects. However, the appeals will be announced more this year. Using the European funds could compensate the lack of taxies in the amount of 50 mil euro (1.5 billion crowns) what is a good capital. We will continue in reforms at secondary school and very interesting project are also marginalized. They often depend on our help.
 
The Košice Self - Governing Region
covers the area of 6 752 km2
And it is the fourth biggest in the republic. In terms of the population of 775,509, it is the second in Slovakia. The area consists of eleven districts. (Gelnica, Košice I, Košice II, Košice III, Košice IV, Košice - okolie, Michalovce, Rožňava, Sobrance, Spišská Nová Ves a Trebišov). There are 17 tones out of 440 municipalities. It is the region of four historical regions- Spiš, Gemer, Abov a Zemplín


SPP woken up by TEKO
 Košické teplárne, the shark among the state firms, increases its pressure on the SPP. Who will build the first geo-thermal power plant near Košice- Košické Teplárne (TEKO) or Geoterm Košice which has not been able to start up the project of using the geo - thermal water for supplying heat to the heating plant for over eight years? Or will it be built by TEKO and SPP?
 
Róbert Matejovic
Photo: Jozef Veselý
 
Although the importance of the rich geo- thermal source in the Olšava region in the Košice Valley in East Slovakia (in the cadastral territory of the village Bidovce, Ďurkov, Olšovany and Svinica) for heating the city of Košice, the construction of aqua parks, recreational purposes, development of agriculture and country tourism has been discussed for a few years, results are more than poor. Even after ten years, when the European Bank for the reconstruction and development and the European programme funds PHARE supported three research drills, the things have not moved forward. And the use of the geo- thermal water and its heating energy with an approximate performance of 300 MWt, has still not become the reality yet. Mayors and citizens of the municipalities as well as citizens of Košice are fed up with investing into recreational centres away from Košice and mainly in Hungary for many years. Predominantly, Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel, a.s. (SPP) is responsible for this situation. It owns 51% of shares, i.e. two subsidiaries Geoterm Košice (95.82%) and Slovgeoterm (50%).
 
The company Geoterm Košice, a.s. (0.8% of shares is owned by the city of Košice) responsible for carrying out this huge project, has not managed to construct three geothermal centres in the villages of Bidovce, Ďurkov and Olšovany neither they have build heat transmission system. SPP, which has invested 13 million Euro into the project so far (the company invested most of the money as a state enterprise), in 2008, it held the international tender for selling the whole project. However, SPP changed the conditions significantly for a few times during the tender. Meanwhile, Geoterm Košice lost its rights for the research territory for using geo - thermal water that was acquired by the company Slovgeoterm, a.s. However, this company did not participate in tender and it personally interconnected with the company Geoterm Košice.
 
Many Issues, Many Problems
Nevertheless, there are many more problems. It is not obvious who is supposed to be and who will be the investor of the project whether this company has research and mining rights, how and when they will sort out lands for the construction of a few-kilometre-line of heat pipe lines from Ďurkov to Tepláreň Košice- TEKO (Košice Heating Plant), who will build it and how much it will cost… The crucial point is mainly the price that can be and is intended to be agreed by Geoterm Košice (i.e. SPP) and Tepláreň Košice (TEKO) that watches the reasonable price of heat for citizens and its customers, and it even pushes it down and does not want it to increase dramatically. This biggest Slovak producer of heat in the form of hot water and steam is a significant partner of SPP from whom TEKO purchases gas in the total amount of 33 million Euros. Over the past two years, TEKO has carries out wide technological renewal of the heating plant from the geothermal source, or construction of its own geothermal power plant that would add the value to the geo-thermal renewable source not only for producing heat but mainly electricity. “We run a business in the communal sphere so have a limited income of 80 cents per giga-joule. However, we do not make a profit from heat but electricity and supportive services. Supplies of heat from the geo-thermal source could be supplemented by the installed heat performance in our enterprise and be enabled to close down the operation of two steam boilers (PK1 and PK2) which durability is approaching to the end,“ says Ladislav Lazár, the chairman of the board of directors and the CEO of Teplárne Košice, a.s. As Geoterm Košice has not begun the project yet and uses not even a part of the geo-thermal source near Bidovce, Mr Lazár has initiated the negotiations with the ministry of economy and SPP about the possibility of purchasing a part of the source near Bidovce where TEKO would erect a geo-thermal power plant with heat performance up to 100 MWt for the production of the electrical energy and supplies of waste heat for surrounding villages. He is being supported in this matter by the villages of Olšava micro-region and regional self-government.
 
SPP woken up by TEKO
However, the proposal helped to wake up SPP that had not shown any interest in geo-thermal water and electricity production. They have changed their opinion and they responded unanimously to the pressure of TEKO company-they will not sell a single part of Geoterm project. On the contrary, they took a counter-strike. Instead of talking about the dates of project realization and giving an explanation why they offer heat plant hot water for double price compared to the price for which TEKO is able to produce hot water, they announced Košice something completely different: by 2011, Geoterm Košice will have built a geo-thermal power plant for 30 million Euro with performance of 3.5MWt in the village of Ďurkov (not Bidovce).
Gilbert Mayer, the chairman of the supervisory board of the company Geoterm Košice, the member of the board of directors of SPP and the director of strategies and corporal development also approved that SPP “has definitely cancelled any attempt to sell its share in Geoterm” which they were offering in the international tender last year. However, Košice heating plant could also take part in this tender, however, it did not send it offer as they had suspicion that the whole tender had been manipulated and the conditions had changed so often…
“Apart from heat production, we also had an alternative solution as we did not reach an agreement with the heating plant, we conducted an analysis of abilities to carry out this geo-thermal power plant and now, we have decided to follow the way of producing the electrical energy,” said Mr Meyer and immediately added that there are still two sources- Bidovce and Olšovany available for the project Geoterm. Nevertheless, there is no information on websites of the company Geoterm Košice and Slovgeoterm to prove this intension of SPP.
Gilbert Mayer announced this news on 8 October 2009, just before the first common negotiation of Ľubomír Jahnátek, the minister of the SR, the representatives of SPP and TEKO, Zdenko Trebuľa, the president of the Košice Self-Governing Region and mayors of Bidovce and Ďurkov took place in the premises of TEKO. It was about the use of geo-thermal water near Košice. The management of TEKO and President of the Košice Self- Governing region asked Minister Jahnátek to initiate the negotiation which did not bring any results after its first round. The only thing we know is that the second round of negotiations will be held in November 2009. By then, all participants have to fulfil five tasks they were given by the minister. For example, SPP has to review deadlines, regional self-government has to judge whether the current sources from three drills will be enough and if it is not needed to do other drills and TEKO set up the condition under which the company will be able to take heat.
 
Minister Jahnátek’s Emphasis
The project Geoterm is in accordance with the Strategy of Energetic Security of the SR, its investment intention is closely related to energetic policy of Slovakia and respects the directive of the EU abut renewable sources of energy. According to the conclusion of the negotiations, the budget of the project must be elaborate in detail, as well as the work schedule and technical solutions, the way how electricity and heat will be produces and which regions will be involved in the project first. The Košice Self-Governing Region has also got involved in the project as the drills are located in its territory. The second round of negotiations has been required by its participants because the representatives of SPP were unable to answer sufficiently some questions asked by the minister of economy. “We have set the tasks and after a month we will check meeting these tasks together,” Minister of Economy of the SR said when meeting journalists. Ľubomír Jahnátek also asked representatives of SPP to review the original intention to build a power plant with installed performance of 3.5MWt in Ďurkov as   the installation of the latest technologies would enable better added value to potential geo-thermal drills and thus increase the installed performance. If TEKO and SPP do not reach an agreement, it will be interesting, however, to watch who will be the first who will really build the geo-thermal power plant and what will the project Geoterm which never considered constructing such a power plant. So far, it seems that SPP will build one in Ďurkov and TEKO in Košická Polianka where the company acquired the research rights or by another source in the Košice Valley with eight other potential sources.


TEKO does not hinders Geoterm
“If we did not care for citizens, the project Geoterm would have been connected to our heating plant and the price of heating in Košice would have been increased by 30%. We do not want people to be victims of this project, “claims Ladislav Lazár, the chairman of the board of director and CEO of Tepláreň Košice, a.s.
 
Róbert Matejovic
Photo: Jozef Veselý
Mr Lazár, why have you asked Minister Jahnátek for help?
We know what hinders the project Geoterm. We are searching for the solution. The state is the main shareholder of SPP and can influence the strategic decisions made about this enterprise. The Mining Office is supervised by the Ministry of Economy of the SR. We could hardly move forward without the state support. It is obvious for all parties involved that we cannot hesitate any more with this project; however, due to the state of using and other rights, it is not possible to reach it without an agreement and support of SPP, or its subsidiaries.
Our main goal is to use alternative sources of energy but without the increase of the price for heat. It is possible to assure as long as a geo-thermal source is not used just for one purpose which is the production of heat but at least for two purposes, i.e. production of heat as well as the production of electricity. Providing the fact mentioned above, the operation of aqua parks would be an extra bonus in this overall attempts. I can make a promise that Tepláreň Košice (Heating Plant Košice) is a grant of maintaining the same price of heat.
 
What do you think about the latest proposal of SPP to construct a geo-thermal power plant in Ďurkov?  
Nowadays, it is not clear and sure if SPP is able to build this power plant directly. We are negotiating with SPP; however, it does not have research and using rights for necessary three sources-drill. These are owned by the third company, Slovgeoterm, in which SPP owns a half. And SPP, now, cannot guarantee the minister that it will obtain these right. The negotiations have not been closed yet.
 
Haven’t they stolen this idea from you?
Building a power plant is a logical consequence of our trade policy. We appealed them to do so as we are not willing to purchase such expensive water. And the only way how to purchase water for reasonable price is to use it for something different, i.e. for producing electricity.
 
How do you evaluate current position of the heating plant during the negotiations with SPP?
Our main standpoint remained unchanged- the project Geoterm must be used for production of electricity and heat. The most difficult and risky the issue of the project is to get geo-thermal water up from the soil. And when we get it out, there must be more then one use of this renewable source of energy. It is the same with natural gas and oil, their mining is very expensive and difficult as well. Neither mining of geo-thermal water is cheap. We are searching for the solution not just to manage and carry it out from the technical point of view but also how not to burden people financially. Negotiations are very tough and complicated as we really want to find a solution. However, like oil and natural gas, water from geo- thermal drills is not for free, either. Every investment requires money. Nevertheless, we are the supporters of the theory that this investment must not increase the price of heat in Košice. WE are defending people’s interests and we handle the planned investment very carefully. We do not want people to be paying for this project for long decades. SPP has to find such a solution that people did not have to pay for it and where electricity would be an added value. This is the main scope and sense of this project if we reach an agreement.
 
SPP claims that the project Geoterm could not have been carried out so far due to the company TEKO that was unable to agree on the price of supplied water. Do you refuse the statements that the project is hindered by your company?
It is their reply. If it is necessary, we will reveal real numbers and prove that they have been offering us hot water for much higher price compared to that we can produce. We are pushing on the price of heat as we are the state company. “If we did not care for citizens, the project Geoterm would have been connected to our heating plant and the price of heating in Košice would have been increased by 30%. We do not want people to be victims of this project.
 
Is it hindered by SPP?
SPP declares that they have been working on it; however, in fact, no one pays enough attention to it. First, SPP has to sort out research and using rights owned by Slovgeoterm and define who will be the investor. Well, the current situation is as following: the project Geoterm involves three companies (SPP? Geoterm Košice and Slovgeoterm), three cadastral territories and 12 drills. We really neither do nor know who to negotiate with. SPP has to sort out its relationship with Geoterm Košice and Slovgeoterm. If SPP is the investor, it will have to have all the rights available.   
 
If you reach an agreement with SPP on the common use of the project, will you build a hot-water pipe line to the heating plant?
Well, it might be possible. If we do not receive a reasonable price for water in Ďurkov and if there is a geo-thermal power plant, we are willing to construct a hot-water pipe line to Košice. The advantage of the power plant is rather simple. If it is not built there, the water will just be pumped up, used and sent back down. Or the power plant will be there and SPP will offer us water for a reasonable price. It is still better for them to sell it to us for a lower price than just let it go down into the ground.
 
What will you do if you do not reach an agreement with SPP?
We will try to put pressure on SPP through the Ministry of Economy of the SR to carry out the project. The state has its power and other mechanisms available to help us with this issue even though the state has not executive power in SPP. If it had it, the whole project would have been carried out already under acceptable conditions. I do not mean that SPP should make any reasonable profit. All this business is regulated by heat and our profit is 83 cents per a giga- joule. It is exactly given, it cannot be changed and so it is supposed to be in case of the power plant so that every one could benefit from it not only SPP.
 
So far, you had been trying to persuade SPP to sell you a part of unused source in the cadastre of the village Bidovce through the company Slovgeoterm. SPP refused and came up with their own project for construction of a geothermal power plant in Ďurkov. How do you comment it?
Positively. We need to get water to the surface.
 
Is TEKO going to build its geo-thermal power plant at the other free source in the Košice Valley if you do not reach an agreement with SPP on using the geothermal power plant in Ďurkov?
Yes. If we acquire mining rights and an exact source. We would like to prove that we can use it and we are willing to do so.
 
Will it be located in Košická Polianka?
We have our own research territory there; however, the water there is not as warm as in Ďurkov. That is why we are trying to make a deal with SPP, if not; we will gat back to the use of water source in Košická Polianka.
Minister Jahnátek requires TEKO to define its parameters of geo-thermal water use…
We are able to take over the entire mining performance for a sensible price. The price, we offer SPP, however, is higher than the price for which we can produce heat in the power plant. And we do not use it for making electricity. We are still participants- paid of the international tender announced by SPP. Nevertheless, during it, the company hands over the using rights to another company. It is rather similar to the situation when you order water in restaurant. First they will bring it to me, then they will pour it into another glass and I am left with an empty glass that I did not want to as I wanted some water to drink.
Water that comes to us will have approximately 120 degrees Celsius and it will not meet the conditions of the central distribution heat system we are responsible for. We will have to heat it up if you want to use it for heating as well as water for industrial enterprises and households.
 
What is your priority?
To keep the price so that it did not rise and if possible it went down. It is not important what heat is made of, but to produce cheaper and reliable heat. It is important to involve the renewable sources of energy gradually and reasonably so that all sides could benefit from it, especially citizens of Košice.
Tepláreň Košice is ready to purchase heat from Geoterm Košice, or SPP from geothermal sources, however, we insist on the fact that using alternative sources of energy does not have to lead to increase of prices of heat for the final consumers. TEKO would like to guarantee long- term acceptable price of heat. And we can assure this only if the project Geoterm is used for heat and electricity production. Another meeting of the involved part will take place in Ďurkov on 9 November 2009.
 
Your company has always had an ambition to play a key role in the regional and Košice market as it is responsible for the distributional network and heat production. Why do you support implementation of renewable sources of energy for heating?
Renewable sources of energy are more expensive than ordinary ones that are why we are trying to involve them in production so that we could guarantee reasonable and sustainable prices of energies and not to be shocked in the future. Nowadays, each production of electricity from renewable source is more expensive than traditional production. But if we do not support it, we will never give it a go. We will not be able to build up 100% of capacities from renewable sources in a year’s time. We have to go step by step.
We do care for renewable sources to be involved in heating and for reasonable price of heat. And that is why we have started co- generation- combined production of heat with electricity and cold. Co-generation is also supported by the EU as it is twice or three times more efficient. We must be aware of the fact that renewable sources of energy will not be cheap immediately. And if we do not start now, we will not be able to construct 50% of capacities in 20 years´ time. Once, however, there will be a moment when the price of coal and renewable sources will equal. Now, we need subsidies.         
 
How do you evaluate the current energetic conception and policy of the city of Košice that has been silent and has not made a significant statement in terms of the realization of the project Geoterm? The company Tepelné hospodárstvo (TEHO), a city distributional company is your trading partner which supplies your heat to a part of household in Košice…
I am not surprised the city does not make any comments on the issue of project realization. My experience is: during the last gas crisis, the city representatives called contacted us for the first time a week after the gas crisis had finished. Moreover, not by the phone but in written form. At the time, we were providing heating and operation of the city so that heating in city was not endangered at all. Well, it says everything. When, at the time of crisis, no one from the magistrate is able to telephone and ask what the situation was like, how we were solving it, when the city was not interested in those issues, what I should expect from the same people in the course of ordinary days.
 
Citizens of Košice used to complain about the prices of heating and be angry but not with TEHO but TEKO. How do you perceive the participation of the city in price and trading policies of the company TEHO?
The heating plant has been decreasing and maintaining the price of heat for over the past three years. We are searching for a reason and were how to decrease the price. We have come up with another offer for citizens living not far from the heating plant. They were enabled to connect themselves directly to us, which is cheaper than buying heat from the city enterprise. Thus we would like to put a pressure in the market all the counterparts, not only TEKO, but also TEHO, and other distributors, were searching for the way how to decrease the price so that each citizen could benefit from it. I am not here to make a profit and transfer it abroad but protect interests of citizens and assure the development of our company. And it is possible. Our life can prove it.
 
Is it not more reasonable to join TEKO and TEHO into one company regarding decreasing price of heat?
Actually, we have proposed that a year and a half ago. We suggested joining the system. However, I have not found a partner at the magistrate who would personally ands politically help me and negotiated with me about this issue and I can’t see a point doing it now.
 
What is the problem?
Well, the present coalition (right- winged) is not good for the city as such. The city is not managed by political subjects that would like to build something conceptually and they even do not know how to do that. Many of those people holding the posts at ht city magistrate or MPs used to work for our heating plant until we changed them three years ago. When they worked for the heating plant, the price of heat had increased every year, people were not given anything and the company did not make profit. Since we began working here, the company has started making money and people have been given money back and the price of heat has been decreased systematically. How do I have to communicate and deal with those people?
The city, its citizens, shopping centres, institutions, entrepreneurs, firm and industrial enterprises are our customers. Primary distribution pipelines are owned by us (140 km) as well as TEHO (200km). There used to be joined in one system and it was a mistake that they had been split up. Anyway, we are the producers of heat and they are its distributors... And we do not want to make money for the whole city magistrate just because this group of people and we do not need it to give us money. We do not want the city magistrate to be renewed every four year. Our main aim is to decrease the prices for heat and produce it cheaper for our customers.   
 
Who is Ladislav Lazár?
E was born in Košice on 11 August 1973. He graduated from the University of Economy, the Faculty of Enterprise Economy in Košice. He began his career in the former VSŽ Košice as referent for entrepreneurial activities. Between the years 1997 and 1998, he was a director of the ice hockey club HC Košice. In the years 1998 and 2006, he was the member of the management and statuary bodies of private companies operating in chemical, mining and food processing industries. The company Tepláreň Košice, a.s. has been operating in the area since 2006.


America’s Teacher
Where has it gone since the crash? It’s a year later. I think that people felt like they got it out of their system when they voted for Obama six weeks later and that he was going to ride into town and do the right thing. And he’s kind of sauntered into town promising to do the right thing but not accomplishing a whole heck of a lot.,” thinks Michael Moore, a popular move and documentaries director.
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist and the author of the international and New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (September 2007); an earlier international best-seller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002).
Photo: the archive
 
On September 17, in the midst of the publicity blitz for his cinematic takedown of the capitalist order, Moore talked with Nation columnist Naomi Klein by phone about the film, the roots of our economic crisis and the promise and peril of the present political moment. Following is an edited transcript of their conversation
So, the film is wonderful. Congratulations. It is, as many people have already heard, an unapologetic call for a revolt against capitalist madness. But the week it premiered, a very different kind of revolt was in the news: the so-called tea parties, seemingly a passionate defense of capitalism and against social programs. Meanwhile, we are not seeing too many signs of the hordes storming Wall Street. Personally, I’m hoping that your film is going to be the wake-up call and the catalyst for all of that changing. But I’m just wondering how you’re coping with this odd turn of events, these revolts for capitalism led by Glenn Beck.
 
 I don’t know if they’re so much revolts in favor of capitalism as they are being fueled by a couple of different agendas, one being the fact that a number of Americans still haven’t come to grips with the fact that there’s an African-American who is their leader. And I don’t think they like that. Do you see that as the main driving force for the tea parties?
I think it’s one of the forces but I think there’s a number of agendas at work here. The other agenda is the corporate agenda. The healthcare companies and other corporate concerns are helping to pull together what seems like a spontaneous outpouring of citizen anger. But the third part of this is and this is what I really have always admired about the right wing: they are organized, they are dedicated, they are up at the crack of dawn fighting their fight. And on our side, I don’t really see that kind of commitment. When they were showing up at the town hall meetings in August those meetings are open to everyone. So where are the people from our side? And then I thought, Wow, it’s August. You ever try to organize anything on the left in August?
 

Platonic Eros
The vernissage of a young Ukrainian artist- Daryna Skrynyk- Mysková (1980 Ľvov) was held by the 16th International fine art festival in Snina 2009 organized by the Andrej Smolák Gallery and the foundation ART.EAST Humenné. There are individual and collective exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad in the portfolio of this young artist. The life in her paintings is depicted as a clear irrational energy of eternal living. Quite sharp dynamic line as well as contrast totally emphasised colourfulness create the feeling of tension. The way she deals with her artistic intentions moves her works to the heritage of European modernism. She has been highly influenced by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, Germans impressionists, however, the most significant is her connection to the works of Austrian expressionist Egon Schiele who became popular as an artist of Eros.
Nevertheless, Skrynyk´s Eros is presented not as a symbol being perceived from Freud´s point of view as a tension between two sexes, however, she sees Eros rather platonically: it is a power that “lights rays from the sky,” the power in which life is created. In Slovakia, the author is represented by Andrej Smolák Gallery.   

 

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