September 2005

Emigrants
The European Commission will revalue 900 directives
Do you think you are helpful for the Slovak politics?
Do you still watch the regional politics of the European Union?
What are the criteria for fining?
Why are the EU Directives so important and what do they have to direct?
Who pushes through this Directive most?
What will happen if the Directives are postponed for a long time?
European Picnic under Šomoška
It revives both Novohrad and Slovaks
Unique Castle
Hiking
Mr Dzurinda, why do you ignore Slovak children in Hungary?
A milliard forints and no crowns
Getting to know your roots
Programme Compatriots and Telentum
No trust in the Slovak Government
Dear Prime Minister,
Dear Prime Minister,
Yours sincerely,
Marija Bistrica- Croatian National Sanctuary
Beloved Bistrica- Slovak Song
Bear- Hunting
Mercenary Haulik
Basilica Minor
Black Statistics
Croatian Galilee
Hellenbach Castle
BK group created by customers
They grant heat savings
Jackets also for Lacoste
Martin Kellenberger

Emigrants
On August 21, 2005, we calmly commemorated the 37th anniversary of the occupation of former Czechoslovakia by the Armies of Warsaw Treaty. On that day, I did not think of the project of socialism with a humane face in 1968- 1969, which is almost unknown to my, middle and younger generation. I thought about the stories of people who managed to emigrate to West, to the USA or Canada in the period from the invasion to 1989. I met some of them in person when I was staying abroad on my studies or business trips in West Europe. Almost all of them claimed that they had run away because they had been looking for freedom in liberated countries, because their were not able to breathe communistic or socialistic oxygen any more or they did not want to be subordinated to the Russian (communistic) way of thinking and living. They believed they would find there what they could not have at home- personal and entrepreneurial freedom, work opportunities, higher wages and pensions. Emigrants also believed they would provide their children with the better and more optimistic future. Some of them were more successful, some of them less. I do not know exactly how many thousands of Slovaks emigrated for over those twenty years of normalization of communistic reforms, they emigrated from Yugoslavia or swam across the river Moravia, and how many of them were communists, how many were not, how many were shot by soldiers of the Socialistic Popular Army. Moreover, I do not know the number of those who had returned quietly to Slovakia after 1989 to live and die here and to find the place of their last rest and peace. I do not know how many compatriots became embittered and stop declaring themselves to their Slovak roots because they feel ashamed of their origin and are not proud of Slovakia. These topics are not discussed in public yet.
Those I met abroad have quite high standard of living. They learned a few foreign languages, have a stable posts and positions. Moreover, they changed the way of thinking; they got accustomed to Germans, Swedes, Austrians, Swiss, British, French, American or Canadian. They were given a citizenship, went through torture of earning respect and recognition. Some of them got into high society.
Some of them say they are happy and they do not miss anything. ´ This is our home, what would we have achieved if we had stayed? We would be poor and miserable creatures, ´they often say when they meet a compatriot from Slovakia. Other people complain -if they had known to which system we were turning to, we would have stayed at home. ´ You know, there was only a wall and communists, poverty and misery behind us and a great world and wealth in front of us but we did not know it. We had not thought it would be so difficult and tough; we had expected to be understood by other people and to be given some help, ´said my friend in Chicago. When I was drinking a glass of cognac with him, the more he drank, the more outgoing he was. ´The worst is when I feel that my children, who had assimilated very quickly, do not understand why I had left my home country. They do not feel and think as I do. They are ashamed of me; they think I am a looser… Don’t you have a Slovak film? Shall we have bryndzové halušky- typical Slovak meal? ´ Our emigrants escaped because of the politics and system, no freedom. They escaped because they did not believe that the communistic regime would fall down one day. Some of them are still waiting for at least symbolic rehabilitation and want their country to ask them to return and help Slovakia. What do we envy them? Freedom? We have been living in democracy for 15 years, though. Entrepreneurship? So we run our own business. Money? You can earn a fortune in Slovakia, too…
They are waiting for a new glimmer of hope that will help to live up their lives reasonably and do not feel like strangers when it is time to recharge their batteries and comfort their conscience, to convince themselves that it was correct what they had done because they felt it was the right thing. Let’s help them, ask them for cooperation. Do not look for them only if we want to send our children to study abroad or we want to beg for some money for a project. It is neither polite nor correct.
Let’s help children when they want to learn Slovak language and let them know our culture better. Let’s support them. We must stop talking about lack of money. Please, do not analyse their accent or language quality. Search for their hearts, souls and humanity. Moreover, the European Union is not only about states, it is about national communities, national lobbing, national interests, and national culture. Please, remember that- if we want to survive as a nation. After 1918, our emigrants from the Hungarian-Austrian Empire helped us survive, our emigrants got involved in fight for our national freedom and state independence. Our emigrants operated abroad after 1945 (the restoration of Czechoslovakia) and also after 1948 when communists were strengthening their positions in the state.

Robert Matejovic, M.A.
Editor in Chief

The European Commission will revalue 900 directives
´The purpose of the Service Directive is to create an internal market with services with no barriers, to simplify and cancel bureaucratic obstacles. Do not form a directive for citizens telling them how to breathe but let them breathe, ´says Zita Pleštinská, European MP and Member of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee.

Originally, she wanted to be an opera singer. Her father’s rational approach who wanted her to have another profession convinced her to study architecture at the Technical University in Budapest. She listened to her father but she did not stop singing. She completed her studies and moved with her husband from Nitra to Stará Ľubovňa where she worked. It is a small town situated in the north-east of Slovakia under the romantic castle not far from the Slovak- Polish border and the spa in Vyšné Ružbachy. It is a region where members of a few national minorities live (Poles, Germans, Ruthenians and Ukrainians). She has been living there for 25 years, she got used to tough living conditions and people’s relationships. Citizens liked her very much so they elected her a Mayor of Chmeľnica (2002), Slovak- German village and in June 2004, she became a member of the European Parliament. When she opened her office in Stará Ľubovňa in July this year, a lot of her colleagues from regional politics and state administration arrived to congratulate her. ´ If these people had not accepted me after so many years I had been living there, they would not have come, ´ says Zita Pleštínska (1961) who is the representative SDKÚ (Slovenská kresťansko- demokratická únia- Slovak Christian and Democratic Union) in the European Parliament in the fraction of the European Popular Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats.

Mrs Pleštínska, why did you want to become the Member of the European Parliament? Why didn’t you want to stay in the regional and communal politics as a Head of District Council?
I was given an offer from the County SDKÚ Board of the Regional Union in the County of Prešov and I accepted it. I succeeded in the primary party election and according to the rules; I got the third position on the list of candidates of SDKÚ to the European Parliament. I would like to participate in pursuing our contemporary reformation politics within work at the Committees and in the plenary of the European Parliament. Europe needs reforms so that it was able to compete the USA and mainly China.

You got 1500 votes in the election. Isn’t it very few for a mandate of the European MP?
We did not play as the individuals but as a team during the election. It might be the reason why our party won. The order on the list of candidates accorded with voters´ opinion and it was not necessary to change it by preferential votes.

Do you think you are helpful for the Slovak politics?
I come across many interesting topics in the Parliament often regarding Slovakia in different areas of economic, social and cultural lives. As a representative of Slovakia, I always support and claim the statement declared by the Government SR during final voting in the plenary. And as I am the MP representing the coalition, I always consult the issues with the Members of the Government.

After a year of being a European MP, what are your experience, disillusion and disappointment with the European politics?
The European Parliament is the great school of life. I meet important personalities of the political life what enriched my previous knowledge. As I am a communicative person, I have never had any problems to talk to anybody about anything. I have reached quite a good position among the MPs from the new Member States in a year, and I have not experienced any negative approaches of my colleagues- MPs towards myself.

Do you feel any underestimation of the colleagues of the new Member States from the side of the Old Members?
No. Our colleagues consider us as active and dynamic in the committees and political fractions. They are friendly and show us particular respect.

Has the work in the European Parliament changed you? Have you moved forward?
I got to the sphere where a woman also has her well- founded place in politics. Surely, it has not changed me. I have tried to remain the person who is in the high politics being able to be sensitive to ordinary people’s problems and to help them.

First, you were being prepared for the work in the Committee of the Regions. Who decided you will not operate in this Committee?
Yes, I was being prepared to work in this committee because I had been working in this field at home for many years and on various posts. The division of the MP into the Committees was also based on the results of negotiations between particular political fractions concerning the MPs´ parity of the fraction in the Committees of the European Parliament. Finally, I got to the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee where I learn that it is one of the most important parliamentary committees. Directives, which are discussed in this Committee, influence the area of firms and citizens in Slovakia.

Do you still watch the regional politics of the European Union?
I am trying to. It all depends on the time schedule of the meeting of the individual committees. If I am free, I attend the Committee of the Regions as I am still interested in these issues.

The Parliament supported the proposal of the Commission to impose penalties upon firms which had gained finances from the European funds and later they forwarded the funds to a different area. What is your opinion on this proposal?
I regard this proposal as anti- Lisbon one. It affects an entrepreneur that acts naturally when one plans to replace the production to the other state of the EU where the cheaper work force but of the same qualification can be found. That is a paradox. The old Member States are afraid of letting a Polish plumber to go behind the Iron Curtain and at the same time they are very ignorant to their own companies and enterprises which are not allowed to follow a Polish plumber to his country.
Surely, the entrepreneur using the structural funds did not know that once, one will be forced illogically to stay in the area with expensive workforce for ten years and thus ruin oneself. If the entrepreneur had been aware of that fact, he would have thought whether to take this advantage or not.

What are the criteria for fining?
It will be impose based on the data received from the evaluation of economic and social costs of any relocation.

MPs refused the requirement of the new Member States so that the project costs financed from the European regional development fund (ERDF) involved VAT. What are the other consequences of this resolution for the further use of money from the European funds?
Exclusion of VAT is a big political mistake and insensitive decision against the new Member States. I do not understand the approach of the old Member States not to recognize the same rules for the new countries which were used by the old ones for many years. Cohesion policy is not only about the division of income between poor and rich. It is the only financial tool of growth and competitiveness of the Union. No growth, no better life! The resolution concerning the exclusion of VAT might complicate receivers to use the funds especially in terms of smaller applicants from poorer regions of the new ten which will be excluded from bigger investments due to their insolvency to pay VAT, for example villages and small towns.

We are talking about the Report by Greek MP Konstantinos Hatzidakis concerning the proposal of the Committee resolution which implements general regulations about the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and Cohesive Fund which the Parliament supported in its resolution. Although it ignores the backbone of the Union- Solidarity or it divided the Union into two blocks again- the Old Members and the New Members, you supported this resolution. Why?
Despite the fact that the objections of the new members were not heard, the uncertainty concerning the structural policies might even more shake citizens´ confidence in the European project.

According to the ERDF, nor housing costs should be supported. Apart from those concerning the reconstruction of social accommodation which will save energy and protect environment in terms of sustainable cities´ development. How do you find it?
I think that including housing costs in this category of ability to use finances from funds would help towns and cities to solve the issues of living of young families as well as it would help to improve demographic development in ageing Europe.

Miroslav Mikolášik, Slovak MP (KDH) and Jan Březina, Czech MP proposed so that ´one of the priorities of the European Social Fund was the compensation of negative consequences caused by exclusion of workers coming from the new Member States from the work market of the EU. ´ Why do you think this proposal did not get any support?
I supported this proposal, I signed it. The old EU-15 closes the work market in hope that restrictions will protect them from competition. Since last year, the work force immigration rate has not reached the level as the critics of the enlargement expected. In spite of that, only three countries did not pass any temporary regulations against the new Members (so also against Slovakia) for 2 up to 7 years which might be prolonged. The other states did. This fact has increased legal uncertainty of creating new jobs in accordance with the meeting of the main Lisbon target.

What is your opinion on the contemporary contents and results of the regional politics in the new Member States or in Slovakia?
Slovakia and the new Member States try to use facilities of the regional development which is enabled by the current policy. However, some so-called clear contributors to the EU Budget complain that this policy is unbearable these days. It works on the principle of solidarity. No social system would work without the principle of solidarity. It is the same in Slovakia, or in Slovak families, there are so- called clear contributors- working parents and clear users- our children. No further development of the society is possible without this principle. The representatives of the EU-15 appreciated the constructive approach of the new EU-10 during the last assembly of the Council where lowering the percentage within costs for the structural funds.

In my opinion, it was disadvantageous and not constructive proposal from the New Members point of view. The 2007- 2013 Budget of the Union is the issue. It was not approved in June 2005 and the new Members were trying to save the budget at any case at the expense of the regional politics…
The 2007- 2013 Budget has not been approved yet due to the problems of British rebate and French grants to agriculture that Tony Blair criticized most. I think that under British Presidency, the European Union will realize again that the support of the regional politics is necessary for the further growth and eliminate differences between regions because there will be willingness found to approve the financial perspective as soon as possible. If it does not succeed, the budget provisory (before the enlargement) what would be disadvantageous for the EU-10.

Doesn’t it prove that the speculations that the old Members do not have correct interest in continuous economic development in the smaller or new countries of the Union?
They probably have not recognized the financial consequences of the enlargement. It is not possible to want a lot for little money.

Do you think it is correct if the regional politics of the Government SR and self-governing regions to rely only on the finances from the structural funds and Cohesive Fund?
The regional politics is too centralized in Slovakia at the moment. I am convinced that if the principle of subsidiarity was respected and decisions were made on the level of the self-governing regions, it would be much quicker and more transparent. The same is being pursued by Danuta Hubner, Polish Commissar for the regional development. It is necessary to count on more funds in the national budget for the regional development and to help poorer regions.

Why are the EU Directives so important and what do they have to direct?
These directives are supposed to accord with different legislations in various areas in particular Member States.

Although these Directives are obligatory for the states of the EU, citizens do not perceive them this way. They are still convinced that the national legislation is above the legislation of the EU. What is your opinion?
Directives are often the results of negotiations compromise between the members of the European Parliament, Council and Commission. The national legislation must respect the European Directive whether the states like it or not. It is and always must be the result of the democratic compromise in the decision making process between the European Institutions. Citizens (like children in a family) accept some regulations with pleasure (recognition of qualification, an attempt on service liberalization on the market) and some with dislike (temporary limitations on the work market in the old Member States, a lot of bureaucratic legislative norms). There are too many directives, but on the other hand, we need to harmonize many activities among the member states. I try to follow the theory ´do not form a directive for citizens telling them how to breathe but let them breathe. ´ I think that the European Commission will revaluate this amount of directives (approx. 900) and they will be reduced rapidly according to the agreed criteria.

What are the competences of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee ? What is the most important agenda of the Committee- which Directives?
Our committee deals with the proposals of directives which are the results of many consultations of specialists and which are prepared by the European Commission. It is a long-termed process. First, the reporter of the European Parliament elaborates the report concerning the directive proposal and changing proposal. When the directive proposal is given a first and then a second reading so it is approved in the Parliament, the Council can but does not have to pass it. If the Council says no, the act of conciliation is initiated between the Council and the Parliament.

Do the citizens of the SR address you when they feel injustice within the internal market? What can the committee or the MPs do for them?
In my opinion, the citizens of the new Members are not aware enough of the consumer protection. However, it will get acknowledged as it was in the old Member States. Slovak citizens did not address me with their requirement directly. If they did so, I could give them advice what to do and which European institution to contact (e.g. the European Commission). The policy of consumer’s protection was solved almost ten years ago. Now, the new Member States are trying to catch the legislative aspects and requirements put on the consumer protection (for instance by establishing consumer consulting centres).

How do you evaluate approximation of directives and other regulations of the Community to the national legislation in order to create working, borderless common internal market?
The report concerning the state of approximation of the European legislation to the national legislation in the new Member States in the field of internal market has already appeared in the European Parliament. Mrs Handzliková, Polish MP, was its reporter. It read that the best state was in Baltic States by the end of the year 2004. Slovakia and the Czech Republic were classified very positively. But Slovakia improved by the end of 2004 what can be proved by the numerous attempts of the government. No borderless common internal market will be created without approximation of the European legislation to the national legislations.

You say that consolidation and improvement of European legislation is essential for elimination of the limits on the internal market. In which areas?
In those tightly connected to the internal market. It is regarding movement of goods, people, capital and services. Commissar Barroso proposes the revision of a significant part of various directives and their reduction what I agree with. It is not necessary to solve it on the European Union, national legislation should solve it.

You claim that the EU needs directives which are liberalizing. For example, the Services Directive should revive the Lisbon Strategy. What should it solve? Why don’t the new Members put more pressure to pass it?
The Services Directive is one of the most important documents that are being solved by our committee. It is the matter of interest of all my colleagues what can be proved by more than a thousand changing proposals submitted before voting in our committee. The purpose of the directive is to create legislative presumptions for the formation of borderless internal market with services and its simplification, to eliminate bureaucratic obstructions. The Union expects the services of the internal market to create approximately 650 000 new jobs.

The old Member States are against it, they are afraid of the competition of services providers from the new Member States…
The old Member States and predominately the socialistic fraction is trying to introduce many changing proposals (there are over 1000 of them these days), to apply a number of exceptions for various services and thus advantage the old Member States.

Who pushes through this Directive most?
Our fraction of the European Populars and Democrats does it. Many discussions are held between fractions in order to reach changing compromise proposals to lower their number. Our changing proposals exclude the directives concerning audiovisual services (they should be included in the directive ´ television without borders´, bookmakers´ services, notary services and taxation. The Direction should not interfere in community instruments- regarding the Special Qualification Directive and the Workers Sending Directive.

Does your fraction push through the exclusion of public interest services from the content of the Directive?
Our proposal clarifies that the Directive will require from the Member States neither to liberalize these services and open them for the economic competition nor to privatize public enterprises and closed monopoles. We propose that financing the services of the public interest was explicitly excluded from the contents of the Directive. The Directive will not interfere the freedom of the Member States to define these services themselves, to organize, finance and regulate them.

Your fraction proposes the idea of a clause about the internal market instead of the principle of the country origin. Why?
Compared to the Commission, we emphasise the supervision of service providers. Our proposal defines the tasks of the authorities in the implementing country, clarifies shared responsibility between a Member State, where the provider is based, and the state where the service is provided. We get across the powers of the implementing state to control the activity in the area in the chapter concerning supervision and administrative cooperation.

The Assembly of the European Council in Brussels (June 16- June 17, 2005) declared neither basic nor crucial attitude towards the principles of the internal market. And neither towards this Directive. How do you explain that?
After the failed referenda on the Constitution Treaty, the Council keep much more space for its statement. They are waiting for the statement of the parliament on the Directive proposal in a first reading at October assembly.

What will happen if the Directives are postponed for a long time?
The targets of the revised Lisbon strategy would not be reached. The main purpose of the strategy is to achieve or get closer to economic performance of the USA, to create new job opportunities and fulfil the third pillar- free capital and persons´ movement. I think that after the unsuccessful referenda on the EU Constitution in France and Holland, west countries of the EU approach the issue of this directive very carefully. However, reasonable politicians suspect – there is no other way than meet the targets of Lisbon strategy.

Regarding this aspect, what is your opinion on the protection of the work market in the old Member States against new ones? Nowadays, there are various different time regulations from two to seven years. Instead of cancelling them, the countries plan to prolong them. How long will the citizens of the new members be discriminated?
You can notice the attitude of the old members during various discussions held in the European Parliament. I would express expectations of the old members in the following sentence: ´The market enlargement within the EU- yes, please; competition from the side of the new member states- no, thanks you.´ In my opinion as well as in other reasonable politicians´ opinion, the old members will have to face and deal with competition coming from the east. Fortunately, economy has its own rules that politics can slow down but cannot stop. Apart from that, every prolongation of the work market must be explained to the European institutions.

Do you support initiative of the Environment Committee preparing the REACH Directive? Its main purpose is to protect our health and environment against harmful chemical substances.
This directive is my other priority. Any kind of REACH agreement must be in accordance with the interests of environment and health protection and the necessity to develop a competitive European chemical industry, especially small and medium enterprises. Chemical substances are beneficial to the society but their research is connected with cancer, allergies and fertility problems. Production and use of chemicals increased rapidly over past decades, but on the other hand people lacked knowledge about their harmless influence on health and environment. Therefore, we must prepare such legal change that will benefit health protection as it is pursued by non-governmental organizations. But it mustn’t be the end of the chemical industry. That is why I will support changing proposals that will ensure the balance of REACH proposal leading to the achievement of the Lisbon target and to sustainable development while preserving competitiveness of innovation activities in industry and social aspects within the EU.

The European Commission re-opened a discussion about consequences of market protection liberalization, the market trading car spare parts by the revision of the Directive 1998-71 from October 13, 1998 about the legal protection of patterns and models. What were the reasons? This contemporary directive proposal about the legal design protection regards to protection design spare parts to renew the look of cars- outer repairs after damage (car crash) of a particular part. It refers only to the visible part- bodywork parts (bumper, mudguard, door, boot, and roof- 75 % market), headlights and rear lights (13 %) and windows (12%).
Directive proposal focuses on the process of market completion through liberalization so that competitiveness increased and the market would offer customers wider choice of spare parts.
245 million cars are registered in the EU-25. They are repaired from time to time. So in the field of spare parts, it is a very important market share with 10 MLD EURO annual turnover.

You are a member of the Delegation at the Parliamentary Committee for the cooperation the EU- Ukraine. In which areas is it developed? In the political one, i.e. in establishing of new parties and financing of activist building civil society or in the economic area? The Orange Revolution was the result of the wok of the European Parliament, too. It put pressure on the country. Polish MPs are the most active members of the Parliamentary Delegation for the cooperation with Ukraine. It might be the consequence of the fact that many Polish firms have penetrated and have been established on the Ukrainian market. The Parliamentary Delegation is monitoring political and economic situation and activities in Ukraine.

Is a declared interest in the future membership of Ukraine sincere and serious? Isn’t it only a political pose? I think that it is really sincere. However, the citizens demonstrated their fear of very fast enlargement of the Union in doubled ´No´ in the French and Dutch referenda. Personally, I think Ukraine is more European than Turkey. Of course, many reforms will have to be conducted in Ukraine, they will have to follow set-out criteria and after that the negotiations concerning integration can start.

When will the Parliament get at the truth about the attempt to assassinate Victor Yushchenko at the time when he was a candidate for the President (see Dimenzie no. 07-08/ 2005)? I have not come across MPs´ requirements to learn this information during the meetings of our fraction or Delegation for Ukraine. The European Parliament will make a statement when they will know the official result of investigation.

European Picnic under Šomoška
Novohrad International Festival helps to revive and develop Slovak cultural life in Hungarian County of Novohrad. The symbol of the festival is Šomoška Castle which was built above the basalt waterfall.

It is July 27, 2005. My colleague and I are standing in front of a small green border gate on the Hungarian side which divides a few-metre-pavement leading to the Slovak Castle of Šomoška. After a while of thinking about the sense of the border and border stone which divided the County of Novohrad in 1918, our eyes are enjoying the natural beauties. We are watching both, Hungarian and Slovak side. We cross the border slowly and we are back home – in Slovakia. Nor our mobile operators noticed it.

The border was open to everybody on that day. Under the Slovak Castle and on the gentle hill – on its Hungarian slope in the south, the European picnic was held on the occasion of opening the tenth year of Novohrad International Folk Festival. Slovaks met Hungarians, Slovaks met Slovaks, and Hungarians met Hungarians on the meadow nearby the humble house where Sándor Petőfi, a great Hungarian poet of Slovak origin, spent his exile times. People got together to show their good neighbourhood relationships, to show respect and esteem through national culture which is so close to them.

It revives both Novohrad and Slovaks
Folk groups arrived from ten countries to join the Jubilee Festival. Apart from Slovak and Hungarian groups, folk groups from Mexico, Sweden, Germany, Turkey, Poland, Bulgaria and Croatia took part in the celebration of this anniversary. ´The basic idea of the festival is friendship and understanding among nations and nationalities. It gives space to observe natural beauties of forgotten Novohrad and thus contribute to the revival of the Slovak Cultural life in Salgotarján and across the county; ´ says Ruženka Egyedová Baráneková, establisher and director of the Festival. She arrived in Salgotarján from Detva twenty years ago when she followed her husband. She is the chairperson of the Slovak Union in Hungary and she works as a cultural worker for the Pedagogical and Cultural Institute of Novohrad County in Salgoterján. The Institute is the main organizer of the Festival.
After an opening ceremony under Šomoška Castle, a-four-day Festival continued with many other events in thirteen villages in Hungary and Slovakia. Slovak Folklore Programmes such as At neighbours´, Folk of Tarjan and Slovak Days could be seen in Sudice, Kazár, Salgótarján, Balašské Ďarmoty in Hungary and Divín, Fiľakovo, Lučenec and Radzovce in Slovakia. In the village of Hollókő, the cultural exhibition – Textiles of Palócs- was held. The village of Banka held the traditional Slovak Folk Festival in Hungary. There were some other co-programmes such as the 15th year of Children’s Folk Dance Anthology in Novohrad County, the International Dancing House of Čardáš (a typical, very dynamic Hungarian dance), a national costumes exhibition, and a handcrafts market, tasting of Palócs goulash and of gastronomic specialities of Slovak villages in Novohrad. 62 folk groups and 1500 people performed during the festival. The final Programme Novohrad in Europe- Europe in Novohrad was held twice- one day in Lučenec and the next day in Banka. ´ This festival gives the citizens of Novohrad a feeling of the importance of the festival. It took us ten years to be noticed in Bratislava or Budapest. The festival is even more precious as it takes place in two countries and thus connects Slovakia and Hungary. I am very pleased that the festival is appreciated on a county level. From the point of view of Slovak minority living in Hungary, it is very important to represent themselves on the international level. We want the world to know about us, to learn from each other and to realize that we have our values and are not worth less than the other nations and minorities, ´Ruženka Egyedová Baráneková adds.

Unique Castle
The legend says that Šomoška Castle was built during the reign of Belo IV., Hungarian King, who fought against Tatars. After the lost battle of wasteland Muhi, the poor king ran away with his group and stopped in the dark woods near Karanč. Exhausted group found a shelter on the massive basalt rock. The King spent a night there and in the morning, he swore to built up a castle which would protect the area against enemies. So it happened. After Tartars had left the country, a few stone castles were constructed.
Šomoška Castle is a unique building. It was constructed from strange six-sided basalt columns in Cerova vrchovina (Highlands), in the younger volcanic range of mountains in Slovakia. It is a protected country reservation where one can come across many remains of volcanic activity, romantic shapes of rocks with ruins of medieval castles, streams of lava, stone seas, and non-active volcanoes, lovely and colourful nature. This beautiful protected area spreads up to the other side of the border, to the area called Karancs- Medves.
You can enjoy a wonderful view on the countryside. For instance, you can see Šalgo Castle on the south Hungarian side, in the east, there is a stream of lava from the nearby volcano Medves. Visibility is really good; you can also see the siluettes of Fiľakovo Castle and Town in a distance.

Hiking
You can reach the castle from the village of Šiatorská Bukovinka from the Slovak side. You turn left at the end of the village, go along the houses and you get to a very narrow, 4- kilometre long asphalt road leading to the parking place. There is an entrance to the National Country Reservation. The path (green tourist sign) leads you to the castle. It takes approximately 45 minutes on foot and you can stop and have a rest on benches next to the lakes. If you want to see the castle from the Hungarian side, you must cross the border between villages of Šiatorská Bukovinka and Somoskoújfal near Salgotarján famous for its iron mines and foundries. Nowadays, the international competition in high jump is held there. Last year, it took place under Šomoška Castle where basalt used to be mined.

Mr Dzurinda, why do you ignore Slovak children in Hungary?
And the second question- when is the Slovak government going to fulfil Slovak- Hungarian governmental agreement about the support of national minorities in the field of education and culture? In 2004, Slovak minority did not get a single penny. Moreover, it seems to be the same this year. Hungarian minority has already received one milliard forints.

Slovak minority in Hungary belongs to the endangered communities. Assimilation continues and Slovak language as a language of communication retreats. Although Slovaks living in Hungary have gone through a kind of cultural and community renaissance after Slovak minority self-administrations was established, we cannot be optimistic about the perspectives of their further development. They lack new investments in educational, training and cultural activities for children and studying youth. A young generation means the future to every nation. While Hungarian minority can rely on generous and irreplaceable help from Hungary wherever in Europe they are, Slovak minority can just bow their heads silently and keep repeating the same stupid question all the time: Why isn’t this help a natural common habit, priority and pride of the Slovak Government?

In the middle of December 2004, Mrs Ruženka Egyedová Baráneková, Chairperson of the Slovak Union in Hungary (the strongest compatriots association), sent the third letter to Mikuláš Dzurinda, Slovak Prime Minister. The letter read: ´ Due to my attempt to answer the questions of our Slovaks and in attempt to get the real vision for the next year, I’m begging you for the answer whether the international agreement between Slovak na Hungarian Governments about mutual support of national minorities from the side of SR will be fulfilled as it was stated in 2004, whether it will be realized next year or it will not be fulfilled at all. ´
Letters of appeal addressed to Prime Minister (President Gasparovič was acknowledged as well) are the consequence of the present attitude of the Slovak Government which has not approved the exact financial help for Slovak minority in Hungary yet. Slovaks have been waiting for the financial support since December 2003 when Slovak and Hungarian Ministers of Foreign Affairs signed a governmental agreement about mutual support of the national minorities in the field of education and culture in Brussels. Based on this agreement, they are supposed to finance various activities that will contribute to the protection and development of identity of Slovak and Hungarian minorities.

A milliard forints and no crowns
The Institute for Foreign Hungarians separated one milliard forints (over 160 mil.SK) for the financial assurance of this agreement and most of the funds have been already sent to Peter Pazmanyi´s Foundation in the Slovak Republic. On the Slovak side, the realization of the agreement is carried out by the Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Government for Foreign Slovaks in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foundation Lipa (a foundation of public interest) supervised by the Slovak Union in Hungary. No money was separated for the realization of the agreement from the 2004 Budget. That is why a former plenipotentiary Claude Baláž proposed a very easy solution- to separate finances from government reserves to the Budget Chapter of the Office of the Presidium SR. Exactly 11.5 million Slovak Crowns. This money should help first eleven frame programmes in the field of education, training and culture activities for children and youth in 2004 elaborated by Lipa Foundation. Its proposal was discussed with the representatives of Ministry of Education, Culture and Foreign Affairs. In spite of other positive statements from other ministries, the proposal was not included in the government negotiations (!). Only Ministry of Finances did not agree with the proposed material. They suggested dividing financial assurance of the agreement into resorts involved. However, the resorts refused it… It was a year ago…
´ Slovak Prime Minister has not replied to my letter yet. Eduard Kukan, Minister of Foreign Affairs did. He informed me that it was supposed that the government would deal with this issue in 2005. As the time is passing quickly, we are worried more and more, our disillusion and disappointment are growing. The government has not approved the proposal yet. And this year is approaching to the end. ´ Ruženka Baráneková Egyedová said in Salgotarján.

Getting to know your roots
Meanwhile the Slovak Union and Lipa Foundation were not staying aside. Having been convinced that the Slovak Government would help promptly and willingly, they began preparing for the realization of their projects. After signing the agreement, Foundation should have called tenders for the exact support of projects which should have been paid in the school year 2004/ 2005 due to time deficit. For example, the project- Getting to know your roots- school in the country in Slovakia attracted parents and children a lot. The project is focused on Slovak children and students from Hungary, Romania, Serbian Vojvodina or Slovakia. Its main goal is to reach the state- i.e. use Slovak language as a tool of communication. The main topics of such a school should be Slovak history, personalities of Slovak culture, science, sport and getting to know Slovak natural beauties. Apart from improving Slovak language, children should extend emotional compatriotism to Slovak nation and get informed about the opportunities to study at Slovak secondary schools and universities. At the beginning, seven turns (80 children for each) for 12 days with the overall cost in an amount of 2.3 million Slovak Crowns. Turns would be managed by two experienced teachers from Slovakia. So finally, money given by the Slovak Government would stay in Slovakia and food and accommodation would be paid from it…
´ It is not easy to explain children and their parents who were looking forward to Slovakia (within the Project Getting to know your roots) that the Slovak Government did not approve any financial help. Much worse and harder is if we imagine that neither did they in 2005… Wouldn’t it be more correct to say that last-year ´failure´ was not a mistake and that our home country does not take us seriously? Agreements are always signed, great projects are advertised in media, promises are made (broken), someone is looking forward in advance…, ´ Chairperson of the Slovak Union in Hungary says.

Programme Compatriots and Telentum
The Programme Compatriots is very important in terms of survival and development of Slovak minority in Hungary. However, it requires a million Slovak Crowns. Its main goal is to make contacts and start cooperation among schools where Slovak is taught and Slovak schools in Slovakia and to support exchange of students, common programmes and activities. The Programme Telentum would help it. It is focused on the support of interest in Slovak universities in Hungary and in Slovakia what might extend basis of Slovak intelligence in Hungary after a longer time. It assumes to give 80 grants to students of Slovak language at universities in a total amount of 1.6 million Slovak Crowns.
Another attractive programme is a project for the support of education of teachers of Slovak language at 127 school and kindergartens. The project will provide special seminars, trainings and exchange studying which require the costs of 2 million crowns. Teaching aids for kindergartens need the sum of ridiculous 300 000 crowns, another 850 000 crowns are necessary for books and books concerning national history and geography. And one million crowns is necessary for competitions and exhibitions of poetry and prose reciting, singing folk songs, children´s theatre and folk groups when we expect 800 participants (children).

No trust in the Slovak Government
There are three sources connected to the Slovak National Budget from which the Slovaks are provided with some help abroad. The first is a grant system; it provides contributions to legal entities and sole traders to cover the activities of foreign Slovaks in ht budget chapter of the Budget Chapter of the Office of the Presidium SR in the amount of 2.65 million Slovak crowns a year. The second is a grant system of the Ministry of Culture SR, Programme-Care for Compatriots living abroad and its sub-programme Compatriots Help Projects in an amount of 3.5 million crowns. It increased by 5 million crowns in the 2004 Budget. Ministry of Education pays 40 million crowns a year to support our compatriots living abroad. It is necessary to point out that these funds are given to all the Slovak minorities and communities living abroad what are over two million people of Slovak origin- based on the latest estimates. ´ A breach of the official international agreement brings up another question or doubts concerning the interest of the Slovak Government in the Slovak nationality. This lack of interest has a very negative influence on national awareness. Slovaks living in Hungary have an opportunity to compare the Slovak Government with the Government of the Hungarian Republic. This comparison shows Slovakia in a bad light. Credibility of the Slovak Government among Slovaks in Hungary could be characterized by a word- untrustworthy, ´adds Ruženka Baráneková Egyedová. N.B. In respect of correctness and plurality of opinions, we asked Mr Dzurinda for his statement. Unfortunately, we have not received it so far.

Dear Prime Minister,
Despite the issues you have to solve and time pressure you have to face every day, I hoped
I would receive an answer for at least one of my letters. However, I did not. Furthermore,
I thought our question would help us to meet Mr Kukan, Minister of Foreign Affairs in person on December 14, 2004. Nothing happened. Due to my attempt to answer the questions of our Slovaks and in attempt to get the real vision for the next year, I’m begging you for the answer whether the international agreement between Slovak na Hungarian Governments about mutual support of national minorities from the side of SR will be fulfilled as it was stated in 2004, whether it will be realized next year or it will not be fulfilled at all.

Dear Prime Minister,
I shall appeal neither to the importance of my compatriots´ interest in home country from the point of their further existence, nor to the Article no.7 of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic. However, I ask you for a correct attitude or a serious answer of any kind in terms of maintaining respect and credibility of the Slovak Government.

Yours sincerely,

Ruženka Egyedová Baráneková, Chairperson of the Slovak Union in Hungary
(From a letter from December 17, 2004)

Marija Bistrica- Croatian National Sanctuary
It is a symbol of cultural bonds between Croatians and Slovaks. 1109 miracles were registered there between 1688 and 1786. The miraculous black statue of Mary Virgin, placed on the hill called Vinsky vrch, has been worshiped since 1684.

While little stones are falling down into the dark depth of the ruined well, ruffling the mirror of the history of Bistrica, we feel that love and wrath, opera and insubordination of national language fulfil the atmosphere above the pilgrims´ river of Croatian Zagorje. Their rustle suggests that from 500 to 800 thousand people visit this pilgrims´ town of Marija Bistrica every year. The memorial book of Holy Mother’s Sanctuary says that on July 4, 2004, Ján Petrík, former ambassador of SR in Croatia took part in the manifestation called Ajar Door of Bistrica held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of V. Lisinsky´s (a composer) death and the 155th anniversary of A. Kerschhoffer´s death who was a composer. This manifestation was organized by the author of this report in order to introduce the connecting points and cultural and historical bonds between Slovaks and Croatians by the presentation of artistic works. Marija Bistrica had been missing memorial events for decades what obviously effected the cultural program of the Croatian cultural treasure from the beginning of the 19th century.

Beloved Bistrica- Slovak Song
Vatroslav Lisinski (1819- 1854; original name – Ignacio Fusch) one of the well- known representatives of Croatian culture and creator of Croatian national culture, composer and outstanding pianist used to visit Marija Bistrica very often. He is an author of the first Croatian opera- Love and Wrath, a part of which was composed in Marija Bistrica in 1843- 1845. The first aria of this opera was sung in public in Zagreb in March 1845. Moreover, it was dedicated to Slovaks from the region of Orava who suffered from great floods.
A year later, feeling exhausted due to enormous psychic pressure before the premiere of the opera, he found a shelter in Marija Bistrica, in the house of priest Ivan Krizmanič, where he met another guest- Slovak lover Gustáv Kazimir Zechenter Laskomerský (1824- 1908). Soon, they found out they had a lot in common. Once, while having lunch together, Lisinski created a composition Beloved Bistrica- Slovak Song. When Štefan Moyzes, the fist chairman of the Slovak Cultural Society, had heard this song before he took the post of bishop in Banská Bystrica, he was very impressed and said he felt as if this song had been composed near the High Tatras and not in the soul of the Croatian composer.

Bear- Hunting
Literal works of Gustáv Zechenter, a pharmacist, a patron of the Secondary Grammar School in Revúca, enriched the influence of the 1848 revolution. He often wrote books of travels and his literal life was closely connected with humanistic magazine Černokňažník (Wizard) where he published satiric letters by Štefan Ďura Pinka who criticized the foreign and domestic policy of the Hungarian Kingdom. Later, he published those letters in Národné noviny (the National Newspaper). His novelette Poľovačka na medvede (Bear-Hunting) is very significant as he introduced social issues of a railway worker in the Slovak literature. After his father’s death in 1842, he went with his mother to his elder sister living in Radoboj- Chorvatske Zagorje, to Hrvatak. He returned there during summer holidays for a few years, it was not a coincident that he visited Marija Bistrica. His friendship with the priest and abbot Ivan Krizmanič was the main reason of his love relationship to this town. The official church often omitted Krizmanič from its reports. They could not be proud of a priest being in debts and supporting reformation ideas. He was one of a few priests who were surrounded by the intellectual elite and as a great nation-lover; he supported the ideas of national revival. His sins were friendliness, hospitability and high-mindness. Thanks to his translational skills, this Croatian writer translated Kanižlič´s Rosalija from German to Croatian language, Milton’s Lost Paradise from English to Croatian. In 1849, he signed the Synod for cancellation of celibate. Therefore, he fell into disfavour with a bishop, cardinal and national reviver Juraj Haulik from Trnava and he was forced to resign from the post of the priest in Bistrica.

Mercenary Haulik
Juraj Haulík (1788- 1869) was the representative of the conservative wing of illyric national movement in Croatia. He also supported the nation even when the state powers forbade the use of Illyrian names and even when Croatian- Slavonic economic society was being created. It was attempting to improve the agriculture. He initiated its formation and he was its first chairman. In 1845 and 1848, he was a great mercenary of humanistic and scientific institutions (University, Illyrian National Society, Yugoslavian Academy, Music Institute, Economic Society). He established the Croatian Music Cooperation where A. Kerschhoffer, a conductor, a violin virtuoso and a music composer in Illyrian language.

Basilica Minor
Maximilan Vrhovec, a well-known bishop of Zagreb, wrote in Vienna in 1810:´What Mariazell means to Austrians, Czestochowa to Poles and Jan Nepomuk´s tomb to Czechs that Marija Bistrica means to Croatians. ´
This town is first mentioned in the documents dating back to 1209. It is mentioned as a feudal estate of Vratislav, the Head of County. In 1334, St Peter and Paul’s Church is mentioned and in 1393, the first priest Lukas Sacerdos de Bistricha is mentioned. The miraculous statue of Mary Virgin, placed on the hill called Vinsky vrch appeared in the 15th century. Due to the permanent threat of Turkish attacks, the statue was replaced to the village of Bistrica and was bricked up into the wall. When Bishop Martin Borkovič arrived in 1684, the statue was found and Holy Mary of Bistrica has been worshipped since then.
The present church was built between 1879 and 1882; it partially stands on the original foundations and is enlarged in the neo-renaissance style. During its construction, the fire broke during the night from the 15th to the 16th of August 1880. It destroyed the interior. However, the altar and the statue remained.
In 1935, Pope Pius XI named the church Basilica Minor and Holy Mother of Bistrica became the Queen of Croatians again. In December 1971, Bishop Conference of Yugoslavia pronounced Marija Bistrica Croatian National Sanctuary. On October 3, 1998, Pope John Paul II visited Marija Bistrica where Alojz Cardinal Stepinc was canonized.

Black Statistics
Nowadays, Marija Bistrica has more than 6000 inhabitants. The town consists of eleven housing estates and spreads from the north-east slope of Medvednica to the north up to the river Krapina. It is bordered by the stream Žitomirka from the east and the stream Pinja from the west. There are three villages and the cities of Zagreb and Svätý Ivan Zelina in the neighbourhood. At the end of June 2005, 228 unemployed people were registered in town what is very malicious for such often visited town. Marija Bistrica continuously loses enterprises and plants of greater importance. Tehnomehanika d.d. with the capacity of three hundred employees, which used to produce special constructions and hydraulic constructions, pulling boards and platforms, is empty these days. The agricultural cooperative farm has been empty for a long time. The saddest thing is the Hotel Salve Regina for the whole region. A new owner appeared but the old problems have remained. The fight for the dignity of each person visiting Marija Bistrica continues on the regional level while state support of tourism does not see the importance of the tourists from the continent. Hundreds of tourists visit the town every year.

Croatian Galilee
Croatian Zagorje is called Marija´s homeland, i.e. Croatian Galilee because of the hills, vineyards, pastures and woods as well as of the rich water sources. Compared to Galilee, Croatian Zagorje is full of thermal water; it has a large number of streams flowing into the rivers Sutla, Krapina, Bednja and Drava. The church having been consecrated to Mary Virgin proves the thirteen centuries of Christianity of Croatians. The majority of Holy Mary’s sanctuaries appeared at the time – the toughest for Croatians, i.e. at the end of the 15th and 16th centuries. The monks of Paul’s Order from Czestochowa brought Black Mother of God with a little Jesus Christ in her arms there in the 15th century. A simple wooden statue (black because of its age) is a statue of Blessed Mary Virgin. There used to be pilgrimages held every year from early spring to late autumn. Between 1688- 1786, 1109 miracles appeared there. They were recognized after very profound investigations. All these events attracted many believers from the whole country and the world who arrived in Bistrica.

Hellenbach Castle
The Castle of Hellenbach is the priceless treasure in the county of Bistrica. It belongs to the Helenbach von Paczolay family. They came from Slovakia where they appeared having the name Čech in the 16th century. In 1643, the family changed their name to Hellenbach. They first arrived in Croatia at the time of Lazar and the children of Ruth Hellenbach- Pukšič. They still live in the castle. Thanks to Dionýz Hellenbach donated the first library to town in 1900. However, the first traces of the parish library date back to 1704.
The international bonds with this space continue even today. A home sculptural colony has wood engravers from Slovakia and Hungary although the majority of them are home- craftsmen – self-learners: gingerbread makers, candle makers, potters and toy makers. The family of Hungarian Mija Zozzolyi started making ginger bread and candles in the 19th century. The family founded their first workroom in 1882 and current products are signed by Mija´s daughter and granddaughter, Vera and Vlasta Hubicki. The younger one, MVDr. Vlasta Hubicki is also a politician and she has been the Head of Krapina- Zagorje County for the second time representing the Croatian Farmers´ Party.

BK group created by customers
Majority of customers use its complex services and experience in the field of development and facility management. Thanks to them, it penetrates the foreign markets. In Romania, it is a leader in the area of administration and maintenance of tall buildings and shopping centres.

At the beginning of our story, there was a smaller firm selling lights in Piešťany, in the popular spa town in the west of Slovakia. It was the year 1995, when the firm began importing lighting devices and lights that had not been on the Slovak market yet. The great success with our customers inspired the firm to develop and adjust their activities to meet growing customers´ demands.


They grant heat savings
´We are able to decrease the cost of heat production by the implementation of new trends and technologies into the process of production. We lead our customer to be interactive and get involved in the energetic policy and to budget reasonably with heat, to eliminate heat release and loss, ´claims Irena Zozuľáková, Executive Director of the company IRPS, s.r.o.


Jackets also for Lacoste
The production of men and women’s jackets of high quality, which are sold for 200 EURO, is being increased thanks to the American market. ´ We are not afraid of competitors from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Belarus, Romania or China because the complicated models are sewn in Slovakia and in the countries of V-4, ´ says Jozef Kandráč, Manager of Mosupo KFK, s.r.o.

The firm Mosupo KFK, s.r.o in Stará Ľubovňa in Eastern Slovakia is one of four Slovak firms which sew textile products and clothes for the world famous French brand Lacoste. Its latest producing hit is the jacket programme which was initiated in spring 2004, soon after Lacoste had gained the producing company Vzorodev in tender. Vzorodev used to sew a wide range of clothes for the former CMEA (The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) - the common market of the former socialistic states in Central and East Europe and the EEC.


Martin Kellenberger
He was born in Bratislava on October 11, 1957. He has been living and working there since then. Between 1976 and 1980, he studied at the Department of Fine Art at the Pedagogical Faculty in Trnava at Professors Ľudovít Hološka and Alexander Vika. He worked as an art editor for publishing companies Tatran (1981- 1982 and Mladé Letá (1983- 1992). He is an academic painter; he deals with free painting, graphics, book illustrations and cartoons.
 

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