August - September 2010What will be a new dialogue between Belgrade and Pristine about?
Independent judiciary being drowned by Radicova’s government
Even Slovakia has its Ferrari
Cultural and historical diamond
Barrosso evaluates the state of the European Union 2010
Europe is failing to shape the global governance debate
Dreaming about a truly democratic EU
Charm of the Carpathian Mountains from Carpathian Ruthenia
What will be a new dialogue between Belgrade and Pristine about?
Pacified and gullible Serbs rely on the European Union that they will help them in the matter of solving the future of the south Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, mainly in the dialogue with Kosovo Albanians. This is a result of Serbian diplomatic offensive after the session of the General Assembly of the UN which was unanimously in acclamation way approved the Serbian resolution about Kosovo. Well, better said, common Serbian and European (Brussels) resolutions, which were Serbs, forced into by the European Union, or Catherine Ashton, the Minister of the Foreign Affairs of the EU. And the show goes on…
The original Serbian resolution on Kosovo was a clear and sovereign answer to the legally non-committal and neutral report of the International Court Yard which American and some European politicians and the leaders of the European Parliament explained it as “a confirmation of legitimacy and legality“ of a unilateral declaration of independence of so-called Republic of Kosovo from Serbia. On 27 July 2010, after an eleven-hour-long discussion, Serbian MPs passed a resolution which they submitted to the UN as their reaction to the neutral advisory report of the international court. It showed that a “unilateral separation is not an acceptable solution to the territorial conflicts”. This new resolution does not contain this sentence; it has been replaced by the following sentence: “Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristine will help to reach peace, security and stability in the region”. However, this new resolution was not approved by the Serbian parliament, just the Serbian government which has not submitted it to the parliament yet…
The resolution of the Serbian parliament states: “The parliament considers it inevitable to reach a sustainable, permanent and mutually acceptable solution to Kosovo by peaceful negotiations that will be in accordance with the Serbian constitution. The parliament confirms that Serbia will never recognize unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo”. Although Vuk Jeremič and President Tadič continued repeating this commitment and Serbian approach in New York at the UN, they had to bend down under unbearable pressure of the EU, Great Britain, the USA and Germany that “tore” the original Serbian resolution. There is no opinion of the Serbian parliament in a new “common resolution”!!!
The times from 27 July 2010 to 8 September 2010 will be written in history of Serbian and Brussels diplomacy as an era of arrogant humiliation and pressure put on sovereign Serbia. Great Britain and Germany put an aggressive pressure on Belgrade so that it realized that Kosovo is not a part of Serbia any more and that Serbia would rather withdraw its resolution on Kosovo from the UN! However, later, Serbia was proposed a new resolution and disunited European Union and Catherine Ashton, its weak Minister of Foreign Affairs, were involved in this “diplomatic theatre”. And what happened? Diplomats of the EU, Great Britain, Italy, Germany and France (with a tolerant approach of the USA), in other words, states that in 1,000 divided occupied Kosovo and Metohija into their military and security zones, offering Belgrade various proposals-from a wide Serbian autonomy in the north of Kosovo to the declaration of independence and connection of the north Kosovo to Serbia! These western diplomats clearly showed how they respect agreements and international law in the modern world, mainly in Europe. On the one hand, these diplomats represent states that recognized so-called the Republic of Kosovo and began diplomatic relations with it, but on the other hand, they show who really wants to rule in the occupied south Serbian province. And surely they are neither Albanians nor Serbs. And it is still so simple. There is still valid United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 that guarantees Serbia its territorial integrity together with Kosovo and Metohija…
A new United Nation Security Council Resolution does not exist yet. And it means that the entire province is still under the international protectorate of the UN. Some European states including 22 member states of the EU and the USA, however, after February 17, 2008, reached that so - called Republic of Kosovo, which was recognized by 69 member states of the UN, got under the protectorate of the European Union. And the result of this politics? The north of Kosovo and Metohija where majority of Serbs live is still supervised by the UN (UNMIK) and Serbia, the centre and south of province (the central part of the Republic of Kosovo) is under the protectorate of the EU. It is proved that without financial help of the USA and the EU, the corrupted Republic of Kosovo could not exist. Europeization of Kosovo moves forwards very slowly and replacement of the Kanun, a set of traditional Albanian laws, by the rule of law known by Europe.
So what kind of a new dialogue can we expect after passing a new resolution of the General Assembly of the UN? Albanians in Kosovo and a part of the EU will perceive this dialogue as “a technical dialogue” among sovereign countries. Serbs, Russia, China and many other states that did not recognize the Republic of Kosovo will call it “a dialogue about new status of Kosovo”. However, what are the positions of parts involved in this affair? How will the territorial and administrative borders, sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo in the north of Kosovo, the customs and tax policy, judiciary and security systems, problems of citizens be solved? On 22 July 2010, immediately after publishing the report of the International Court in Haag, which the General Assembly of the UN took cognizance of (it did not approved or refused it), Hillary Clinton “assured” the world that the territory of the Republic of Kosovo is inseparable. Probably, she confirmed what media, diplomats and politicians usually do not say. “A hot apple” that no one wanted to tackle is called Camp Bondsteel, an American air and racket base. They called it Guantanámo of Kosovo; it spreads in the east of Kosovo near the town Uroševac (Ferizaj in Albanian language) in the area of almost four square kilometres. Americans began building it without the permission of the UN, the EU and Belgrade, straight after the air raid in 1999. Officially, it is the main military base of the USA in Kosovo being commanded by KFOR, but it is also a command of NATO for multinational force East (KFOR’s Multinational Task Force East - MNTF-E). It is a result of Bush’s aggressive and geo-strategic foreign policy in Balkan that has always used Albanian and Muslim matters in competing struggle with Russia. Can you imagine that Serbia would renew its territorial integrity and sovereignty in Kosovo and Metohija and Americans would have to close down their biggest military base in Europe? This base will still remain there even if Serbia and divided Kosovo and Metohija, or united Republic of Kosovo with an autonomic Serbian part becomes members of the European Union. We are living in the era when nothing is for sure and everything can be discredited, explained, raped. However, the truth is the only one. If Kosovo Albanians could declare an independent Republic of Kosovo from Serbia according to the report issued by the International Court Yard, then Kosovo Serbs can declare their independence from the Republic of Kosovo!
What is so sad about the crisis in Kosovo is the fact that the leaders of the EU and west powers, who often defend common values, democracy and the rule of law, hypocritically do not defend the territorial integrity of the Serbian Republic and do not insist on the renewal of Serbian sovereignty in Kosovo and Metohija. They behave like impeccant dictators who are allowed to trade with anything- with territories and sovereignty of states, with pride and esteem of citizens. They do not dare to confess their own mistakes and failure in a puppet state with a puppet government as the Republic of Kosovo is now. However, it seems that as the multinational EU and its west countries did not manage Islamic and Romany problems, they did not manage Albanian issue, either. It is rather strange to find out that some one unable to adopt, does not want to educate himself and is unwilling to respect anything, it already protected, funded and given many advantages. What is our Europe then like? And what it will be like in 20 years? Well, unlucky Milosevic has already passed away, so did radical Kosovo Albanians and their paramilitary troops are under the control! So what is then Europe afraid of? Albanian terrorist attacks in Germany, in France and Great Britain? Or Albanian autonomy in these state?
editor in chief
Independent judiciary being drowned by Radicova’s government
“Executive power intends to promote an investigator to be more qualified and independent than the entire judiciary of the Constitutional Court! I consider it unacceptable and scandalous,“ claims Juraj Sopoliga, a judge, a member and a spokesman of the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic.
Photo: Jozef Veselý
The Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic is by the Constitution of the Slovak Republic constituted as a body of judge legitimacy. It represents the independent of judiciary from the executive and legislative power. Besides submitting proposals for candidates for appointing judges, its main goal is to make decisions on assignment and displacement of judges, submit the president of the Slovak republic proposals for appointing the chairman and the vice- chairman of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic, to submit government the proposals of candidates for judges who are supposed to represent the Slovak Republic in the international juridical bodies, to vote members and chairmen of disciplinary senates and make statements concerning the proposals of the budget of the courts of the Slovak Republic when forming the proposal of the national budget. The Judicial Council has 18 members. The judges vote eight members from among themselves, three are appointed by the government, three are voted by the parliament and other three are appointed by the president of the Slovak Republic. The eighteenth member of the Judicial Council is the chairman of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic.
Who is JUDr. Ján Sopoliga?
He was born in Rožňava in 1951. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the Comenius University in Bratislava. He has been a judge since 1976; he specialized on commercial and civil law. He is the chairman of the senate of the Regional Court in Košice and he is the chairman of the Judicial Council, between the years 1997- 2005, he was a vice- chairman of the Regional court. He is an establishing member of the Association of Judges of Slovakia and its former ice- president. He was the member of the working group for the preparation of the laws on the status of a judge and the court administration. In the ballot for the member of the Judicial Council of the SR, he received the largest number of votes (648) of out the total number of 1172 voting judges. He has been elected to the Judicial Council for the second time. He is married and has two children. He speaks Hungarian and Russian.
Mr Sopoliga, what is currently happening in the Slovak justice / judiciary? We have witnessed increasingly more serious opinion conflicts between some judges and leadership of the judiciary, between the Judicial Council and some politicians, at latest, between the Judicial Council and the present government…
At present, there is a visible intention to weaken achieved system elements of judiciary independence by proposals for strengthening competences of executive power at the expense of judicial power. Changes are being proposed without any disputes with self-governing bodies, professional associations and the Judicial Council. A significant fact is not respected that the amendment of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic in 2001 which established a standard juridical frame of the independent judiciary, it significantly demonstrated the will of a constitutional council to ensure a principle of three- division of the state power. This principle is based on the resolution of the General Assembly of the UN in November and December 1985 on the basic principles of independence of judiciary, recommendations of the Council of Europe N.o.R) 94) 12, the Committee of the ministers of the member states of the Council of Europe from October 1994 and the European Charter on the status of a judge passed in Strasbourg in 1998.
I would like to point out that the proposals of the government avoiding all the international documents mentioned above in terms of the contents are unacceptable for the judiciary resulting in changing an independent judge into a dependent judge whom it would not be possible to expect him to pass early, legal and impartial decision-making.
There are more than 1,300 judges in Slovakia. They have their self- governing bodies (judicial councils) and professional associations. In which issues are they in absolute accordance and united?
In my opinion, there is accordance in significant competences of self- administration which is submitted by the Constitution and which regard mainly the schedule and timetable of work, personal competences and the economic provision of judiciary. I consider any weakening of competences of the self- administration in these areas that are not in accordance with the intention of the constitutional council to influence the judiciary self- administration, which is not only a consultative body of courts.
New struggle for independence of judiciary from politics and executive power began in the autumn 2009. The Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic did not support a document by 105 judges named “Five Statements” and their appeal to gain some support to change situation in justice at the end of September 2009. Why?
Judges who had signed this document let themselves get involved in politics that was initiated by the former opposition, or a part of the current governmental coalition (SDKÚ- DS, KDH). They contributed to preventing the Judicial Council from strengthening its powers (its proposal ended up during the first hearing in the Slovak parliament). It is undoubtedly against a long-term attempt of judicial councils of district and regional courts, the Judicial council and the Association of judges in Slovakia to strengthen competences of the judicial council in the field of appointing a chairman of the court and the budget of judiciary after the amendment of the Constitution of the SR. Judges’ Appeal was published at the time when it was planned to make a decision about strengthening position of the judicial council and the self- administration of courts in the legislative process and there was also submitted proposal for calling off the minister of the justice from her post.
At that time, Štefan Harabin was the chairman of the Supreme Court of the SR, he was a former minister of justice. All the judges that signed the document mentioned above states that they had been working in the area where their rights for the liberty of speech and opinion had been suppressed as they began to face punishments and disciplinary procedure for open criticism of justice and its main representatives. What do you know about that? Is it true? Did they take a legal action?
I am not aware of any legal action taken by the judges. Disciplinary proposals were submitted just for failures found out when doing judge’s job-for example prolonging law acts in case of so-called mafia, not meeting periods stipulated by law for elaborating a verdict about imprisonment matters. In these case, I cannot deny that the judges, against whom the legal action was being taken, having said their personal opinion about impartiality of Dr Harabin against them. Their opinions were presented in public and there was no disciplinary proposal submitted in terms of their publication.
Media presented their document as an “open fight against Štefan Harabin”. Who is actually criticizing him-who is the opinion forming and respected judges?
Every judge has its real right to express his or her opinion. I expect any constitutional representative not to fall back to misrepresent the situation in justice in public by presenting just some parts of claimed problems. It is strange that these colleagues did not attempt to solve the problems at particular courts through the self- administration bodies and professional associations. A part of the problems (for example statement about unreasonable disciplinary punishment) is not a new issue because they existed during the previous governments as well. However, a serious suspicion from possible connection of those judges with political parties which at that time did not agree with legislative proposals for strengthening competences of the judicial council (as the constitution allows it) and proposed calling off the minister of justice.
Does Mr Harabin misuse disciplinary procedures against the judges-his opinion opponents, changes their specialization and workload?
The answer is obvious from the acts which they are disciplinary punished for.
Before the election Štefan Harabin, who is the chairman of the Judicial Council of the SR, was willing to discus the problems of justice and about the issues concerning strengthening the independence of judiciary. How did all those who signed the appeal respond to their offer, did they want to negotiate?
As far as I know, signatories conditioned that negotiation with the presence of media. That condition, however, was unacceptable because both sides could inform the media after finishing the negotiations in order to be held. Media never take part in solving problems of executive, legislative power and political parties.
The Judicial Council of the Regional Court in Košice, which you chair, responded to signatories’ criticism. What motivated them to do so?
Analysis and appeal that signatories submitted to the members of the parliament, the prime minister and the president of the Slovak Republic did not propose any significant system changes for strengthening judiciary and they rather seemed as an emotional expression of offended judges. We find their analysis unbalanced and tendentious as it does not mention any systematic changes in justice that have been implemented in the legislation since 2006 and based on proposals of the judicial council, councils of judges and the Association of judges in Slovakia. We, unlike the signatories of the appeal, appreciate change of those legislative failures that significantly interfered independence of judiciary and were approved at the time when Daniel Lipšič was the Minister of Justice. It contents contradicted the standard rules of executing judiciary in the European Union, which come from the international documents.
Do you mean failures in the competences of the judicial council?
Yes, as well. The position of the judicial council was strengthened while forming the leading criteria for the budget of judiciary because it statement is a part of the national budget proposal that the government submits to the parliament. The ministry of justice is authorized to set the number of judges only after reaching an agreement with the judicial council. Procedure of temporary retention of the execution of the position of a judge has changed as well by a new change of the right of a judge who can demand for cancelling the decision repeatedly and without any restriction compared to the original states when the judicial council could decide only once. Meanwhile, duration of temporary retention of execution of the function of a judge lasted for two years in terms of disciplinary offence and for three years after committing a crime (originally there were no time limits).
Philosophy of personnel forming a judiciary has changed too. Judicial expectant with changes specialized preparation for performance of a judge position are preferred after implementing the judges to train judicial expectant.
Moreover, the process and contents of judges and other constitutional representatives income declaration amended by the Constitutional Act no. 357 / 2004 Coll., but it does not subject to the control of the executive.
Unacceptable status in the structure of disciplinary senates was being criticized as well. How did you correct that?
There numbers of judges set in a three- member senate and three judges in a five- member senate of appeal. Disciplinary court is a body which is entitles to make decisions on cancellation the constitutional position of a judge. Judicial councils, the minister of justice and the Slovak parliament are entitled to propose candidates for judges of disciplinary senates. Both executive and legislative powers participate in formation of this body while they are entitles to propose more candidates than judicial councils. But on the other hand, a judicial council is obliged to make a decision on the structure of disciplinary senate so that in the three- member senate, there are two representatives given by the government and the parliament and in the appeal senate there are four of them. This change was meant to make the government and parliament propose candidates from judges as well.
Before that the act enabled so that there were mainly people in this body who had been politically supported by the government and parliament which could be considered as a serious interference in independent judiciary.
Does a judge still have an unlimited responsibility for any damage caused when executive public power, i.e. is he still responsible by all his properties?
No, there has been a significant change in amending the responsibility taken by judges that is now in accordance with standards valid in the European Union. Regressive compensation to actual damage can be taken into consideration only if the guilt of the judge was found out during the legal action or disciplinary procedure as a serious violation of discipline. Unlimited level of damage compensation is only in case of causing damage on purpose.
Media and some politicians described the statement of your judicial court as a so-called anti- charter…
Although no one has ever officially learnt about this document and tried to oppose our argument, they described it as an anti-charter. The statement was provided only to all judicial councils in order to find out their opinions. How come we do not have the right for the truth? Our judicial council represents an opinion of more than 200 judges. In our statement we rely on the fact that what is written in the constitution and in the international documents about independence of judiciary. Neither media nor politicians showed any interest in informing the public about the actual state, reality. Our statement about the signatories appeal was supported by the judicial councils but no councils of judges.
Well, anyway. How do you classify behaviour of other judges? It looks as if 35 - 40 % out of all judges and judicial councils have neutral or none approach to sensitive issues. They just do not care? Why is that?
I consider the ignorance of this statement as the approach too. However, it is not possible to consider it either positive or negative.
A kind of schizophrenia and politicking appeared in Slovak judiciary at the end of July 2010 when there was medialized an appeal of two discontented judges named “For Open Judiciary”. Katarína Javorčíková-Stránska, a judge of the Regional Court in Bratislava and Miroslav Gavalec, a judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic asked Mr Harabin, members of the judicial council as well as some chairman of regional and district courts to resign from their posts because they are responsible for allegedly “lower trust in judiciary from the side of the public”…
The judicial council responded by an announcement that it would not get involved in any political appeals of these two judges who are perceived by majority of judges as personification of nepotism, non-transparency and lobbying at the edge of corruption.
What is it about?
The judicial council asked judge Katarína Javorčíková-Stránska to explain in public why just executor Stránsky used to work on very lucrative cases during their marriage and at the time when she passed verdicts and thus they earns almost 40 million crowns from execution that went straight to the family “kitty”. However, she was eligible for a half of their common properties after getting divorced.
The judicial council also asked Miroslav Gavalac to explain his lobbying by which he offered his loyalty to MPs of a particular political party, to Daniel Hudák, a former state secretary of the ministry of justice and many persons as a reward for votes of the judicial council when becoming a candidate for the post of a judge of the first grade of the European communities.
Is this appeal of two judges legitimate and relevant? The Judicial Council of the Regional Court in Košice considers it as purposely avoiding and ignoring the legal possibility to recall voted members of the members of the judicial council by judges themselves…
I do consider the appeal as illegitimate. And I find it relevant as the law changes the procedure of retention of voted members of the judicial council by judges. Calling off a person requires proposal of at least a quarter of judges entitles to vote or three councils of judges or three collegiums of chairmen of councils of judges. That is why we appeal those two judges and members of their independent initiative that if they find themselves really democratic and supporters of the rule of law and independence of judiciary, they should follow and carry out legal procedure for calling off voted members of the judicial council as it is the most democratic way t o find out the real will of the entire judiciary and not just presenting their personal interests. In case that they are unable to fulfil legal criteria for calling off voted member, the judicial council of the Košice region court, appealed them to respect democratically presented will of majority of the judiciary. In democratic society well-behaved people respect the rule about the change of vote’s members of the state bodies by the decision made b their voters (calling off by voters).
What was their respond like?
I am not aware of any respond of theirs. It seems they hardly communicate with professional associations and are probably unable to use convincing arguments or persuade the representatives of judges’ self-administration so they prefer present themselves as independent. Their ideas appeared at the governmental agenda that is why some judges are being suspected to having got involved in politics what evokes doubts about their impartiality.
Why can be a member of the judicial council recalled?
According to the judges’ opinions-voters, if they do not fulfil there tasks and ideas of judges when pursuing independent judiciary and not politicians!
And what in case of members of the judicial council that are voted by the parliament, government and president? Why can they be recalled before the end of their five- year electoral period?
The answer depends on resolution of the bodies mentioned above. If we wanted to call them off, there would be a constitutional problem in terms of shortening their five- year electoral period given by law, not by the change of the constitutions. The law does not adjust reasons for abdication.
Judge Javorčíková and judge Gavales claim that al judicial “post holders” who operated and are still responsible for moral decline and loss of confidence in judiciary so that they are a brake in the process of changes that judiciary will desperately need in the coming period…
I deny statements about the moral decline which cannot be proved. The results of decision making have improved due to the eliminating the number of old cases by 20,000 compared to the situation before the year 2006. I consider an appeal tendentious as the “challengers” could not prove violation of exact moral criteria. Their claims about low trustworthiness of our judiciary are based on date used from the survey, from the citizens who, unfortunately, do not have enough knowledge how judiciary works. In the past, the Association of judges of Slovakia ordered an opinion poll carried out by specialists and the results were much better. I think that only the procedure that gives citizens to observe work of courts and judges for a longer period of time can be suitable one. Having been informed about the reality, the results of people’s evaluation of trustworthiness of judiciary was much more positive.
Do you as a member of the judicial council feel responsibility for allegedly lower trust of public to judiciary? Is it a reason for a deliberate resignation?
I consider published results concerning trust of public to judiciary not objective enough. I am convinced that serious survey must be based on information coming from citizens who are enabled to observe the conditions of executing judiciary for a longer time. Any different approach can be misused and serve predominantly the interests of particular political parties and not citizens who have a constitutional right for early and impartial decision- making process. Over the period of administration of some governments, the public attitudes towards the trust in judiciary. It is interesting that based on such surveys, the system changes in judiciary are proposed but when receiving negative results from the surveys concerning the trust of citizens to the government and the parliament, and there are no wide legislative changes. I do not deny that when a citizen finds out more about the reality of judiciary, he or she will learn that many failures in judiciary are just consequences of failures of the government and parliament which have to provide courts with financial, personal, material and technical conditions.
I see the reason for deliberate resignation only in stated will of my voters that they disagree with what I pursue at the negotiations of the judicial council...
Every August the open meadows near the municipalities of Muránska Lehota and Muráň rimmed by the national park Muránska Plain hold the oldest and largest rodeo in Slovakia. This traditional two-day summer entertainment in western style visited by 4,000 - 5,000 people is organized by the municipality of Muráň and the advertising agency Infiniti Media based in Košice and the Slovak Association Western Riding & Rodeo Ranch HP.
Rodeo is an individual branch of riding sport. I came from cowboys’ races by which cowboys used to idle some time away. It was started in North America and its adjusted forms have spread in many countries all over the world. During socialism, it could not be practised in Czechoslovakia due to ideological reasons; however, its traces happened to occur in Muránska Plain.
Will it become a centre of country tourism?
Roman Goldschmidt, who has been a mayor of the municipality of Muráň for 15 years, told us that the main goal of Rodeo in Muráň is to make the place more attractive and thus make the village and its surrounding more popular and develop it into a centre of country tourism. “Norik Muránsky, a breed of draught horses, has been kept in Muránska Plain, Veľká Lúka for years. These horses are suitable for work in the woods. We would like this breed; region and nature become more popular. In our cadastre, there are the ruins of Muráň Castle which we would like to preserve. Moreover, we have not given up an idea of building a ranch; however, we lack money, investors, but mainly understanding from the side of the conservationists of the national park.“ So far, the village managed to succeed in four projects that had been supported by the EU funds- for the reconstruction of the school, sewage system, regeneration of original settlement (the square and public toilets) and for the establishment of the museum that will be opened next year.
Fifteen riders took part this year during the 18th year of Muráň rodeo - Slavomír Česánek, Zdeno Kuzma, Petra Šiňáková, Pavol Šiman, Manfréd Schmidt from Austria, Pavol Vanca, Nika Balová, Lucia Dulová, Alexandra Karafová, Peter Dula, Jana Pavlíková, Zsolt Varga, Ivan Antalík, Maroš Hvizd and Anton Gábor. They competed in three speed and two work disciplines. The financial prize of 2,350 Euro provided by the agency Infinity Media was divided among the riders according to the individual key given by the Riding Club Ranch HP Červená Skala. “We have to praise our riders for training these disciplines,” says Miloš Gesker Petráš, who has been producing and presenting this popular Slovak rodeo. “It is unusual that riding is only a reward. Riders do not pay a starting fee. Who wanted to ride at Muráň, he/she had to win the Infinity Media Cup the previous year or reached the first, second or third place in Muráň rodeo. We would like to profile this rodeo as a show of the best Slovak and foreign riders,” he adds.
It was the first speed discipline in which a rider caught a calf by a rope. There were eight riders competing in two rounds. In each round, a rider was allowed to throw the rope just once within 60 seconds. Only a throw which caught a calf around its head or horns are counted as valid points, catching by legs or tail does not count. Due to the safety of calves in the Slovak conditions, a rider loosens the rope or there is a special spring hook that automatically releases a calf. Anton Gábor reaching the time of 6.5 seconds in the first round with a horse Yachta from Agrospol Košice won this discipline. He was also named the Cowboy of the Day.
The second discipline involved a very important “sprint with a horse” around three barrels that are placed in the shape of isosceles triangle- the hypotenuse of 21 metres and the catheti of 27 metres. The hypotenuse is on the side of the start, in the distance of 11 metres from the start. There is a five second penalty if you knock down a barrel. The competition is divided into two rounds while each rider has a better round counted. A rider can start on a few horses; a horse in this race can start just once. A rider can touch a barrel by hand. Nika Balová from Brezno and the horse Jackie won this race with a racing time of 16.468 seconds.
It was the first working discipline. There were 21 calves marked by colourful neckbands with numbers. Up to three calves had the same colour and number. All the calves were gathered on the one side of the arena and there was a pen (a kind of cage) placed on the other. Just before the race, a referee announced a team a colour and riders try to separate particular calves into the pen (cage). The team can separate one, two or three calves. The team that separates more calves wins even if it had worse time. In case of the same time, the number of calves counts. However, if more that five calves get to the opposite side of the arena, except for those that have to be separated, a referee stops the attempt of the team. The time limit was 90 seconds, 30 seconds before the end of the limit; riders are notified that they have only 30 seconds to finish this discipline. There were two rounds and better time of the team counted. It was a very demanding discipline. Only one team managed to chase a calf into a pen.
The rules are the same as for team penning, but there is a difference - only one rider starts the race and separates only one calf. Before the start, the referee tells the rider a colour and number of a calf which is supposed to be separated from the herd and “deliver” it into the pen (cage). It is probably the most attractive discipline in which they can see a direct duel of a horse and a calf and rider’s skills.
Pole Bending (a slalom around six poles)
It is a speed discipline. Poles are place in the distance of 6.4 metres from each other, the first pole is 6.4 meters from the start. First, you ride a horse from the start to the last pole and then back around the poles, however, a horse with a rider have to turn around the pole by 360 degrees, from the last pole, a rider sprints straight to the finish. There is a penalty of 5 seconds for knocking a pole, mistaking the route is punished by disqualification. There are two rounds, better time counts. A rider can touch a pole by his hand.
A strong storm a night before the rodeo did not spoil a good mood which was being improved by performances of groups like Revers Park, No Name, and Ščamba and by a very famous Czech country singer Lenka Filipová. After the prize draw, there was a country ball with the groups like Neznámi and Country Limit Club. “We would like to support rodeo sport by culture that is why our agency endeavours to bring music entertainment along with rodeo to Muránska Plain,” says Ľudovít Demián, a director of Infinity Media agency.
Even Slovakia has its Ferrari
TwinSpin in Prešov
Slovak “small gearboxes” compete Japanese ones and thus help Europe in the contest for world leadership. However, technical universities in Slovakia have not awaked yet and are still unprepared for cooperation.
Photo: Jozef Veselý, the archive of Spinea, s.r.o.
It is already 10 years since a trade book of a successful Slovak hi - tech story began to be written in Prešov in the east of Slovakia. Spinea, s.r.o., a Slovak company, is its scriptwriter. Since 2000, it has been manufacturing and exporting bearing reducers with a brand “TwinSpin” which are so demanding to produce in terms of preciseness. It is a top-quality product that scored nut just in Europe but also in the USA, Asia and in Japan. Slovakia can be proud twice, this unique connection of bearing with a gear was invented by two Slovaks-constructors Bartolomej Janek and Tibor Fecko. Their patent rights for this original invention are registered at the International Patent Office in Munich.
Joints for machines
“Bearing reducer is something like human’s joints. It enables machines to do what there are supposed to. From a simple repeating movement up to a series of complicated performances. The matter is - the movement from the driving unit was transmitted to a final machine as necessary. Sometimes with accuracy of a hundredth millimetre. For example, the robot’s arm that assembles cars driven by a motor. In order to work properly, the robot has a bearing reducer in its joint. Its gear cuts down on rotational speed and transmits energy to a robotic arm,” explains Jozef Pustay, a CEO of the company Spinea. He came to Prešov with rich and a few-year experience of a top production manager that he acquired at the manufacturing concern Volkswagen in Bratislava and Martin.
Emphasis on preciseness and durability
Bearing reducers (small gearboxes) are mainly used in robots, in the industrial automatic operation, automatic machines, service robotics, trackpoints, measuring and observing devises- in the mechanical, military, aviation, cosmic, automotive, telecommunication and textile industries, in health care and in science. Reducers from Prešov move robots that assemble cars of world- known brands as well as those manufactured in Slovakia (Volkswagen, Peugeot, and KIA). “Our gears are produced with the accuracy of plus/ minus 2 microns. Just to be compared to a man’s hair which is 40 microns thick. What is the most essential is to maintain their durability and accuracy as long as possible, in our case, an average duration of a reducer is twelve thousand hours,“ he adds.
With their accuracy and durability, they successfully compete mainly Japanese reducers. Hardly anyone knows that Spinea now represents Europe in the European - Japanese contest for world leadership. After ten years, it established its position in three Japanese firms - as the only European representative. “We are pushing on Japanese with our ability to produce reducers with a diameter between 50 and 395 millimetres. They do not have a scale like ours. The advantage of our production is that we do not offer just reducers but the whole entire technical and constructional solution. Thanks to this flexibility, we are able to make gears according to particular requirement of our customers.”
So far, Spinea has invested 30 million Euros in research, development and production of reducers. If this company had not got involved, this Slovak invention would probably have ended up somewhere in a drawer as an invented but not carried out chance for the Slovak mechanical industry. Out of the overall annual production of 25,000 reducers, just two per cent are used in Slovakia. The largest number of reducers is exported to Germany, Italy, Sweden, Korea and Taiwan. The portfolio of the company’s important customers involves such prestigious companies as for example KUKA, COMAU and ABB.
The company has already produced first specific prototypes for Chinese and Russian customers. China and Russia seem to be new potential and perspective markets for Spinea. “Our strategy is to increase production up to 40,000 reducers a year until 2015 and offer our customer not only our gears and technical solutions but also modules with driving power and in the future the complex technical systems for workplaces as well,” Mr Pustay emphases...
Cultural and historical diamond
The common feature of every single up-and-down in the general development of our town is the understanding of the superiority of the spirit originating from the philosophy and not (only) economy. We would like to develop our town as a centre of knowledge and creative economy, tourism and culture thus providing quality environment for every generation to live and work in,” Štefan Čelan, a Mayor of Ptuj, a town in Slovenia.
Photo: the archive of Ptuj
Ptuj, a town with twenty- five thousand inhabitants, situated in the Lower Styria region in the north-east Slovenia has a very rich history. The city enjoyed the biggest bloom during the Roman Empire. In 69 AD, Vespasian was elected Roman Emperor by his legions in Ptuj. The city of Poetovio was the base-camp of Legio XIII Gemina in Pannonia. The name originated in the times of Emperor Trajan, who granted the settlement city status and named it Colonia Ulpia Traiana Poetovio in 103. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the town was plundered by the Huns in 450. Later, the town was occupied by Eurasian Avars and the Frankish Empire. Between 840 and 874 it belonged to the Slavic Balaton Principality of Pribina and Kocelj. Between 874 and 890 Ptuj gradually came under the influence of the Archbishopric of Salzburg; having been given its name Pettau, it was incorporated into the Duchy of Styria in 1555. Pettau was a battleground during the Ottoman wars in Europe in the years 1684 - 1744. After the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the end of World War I, the city (with the German majority) was included in the short-lived Republic of German Austria, and later, it was included into the Kingdom of Slovenians, Croatians and Serbs.
Dr. Štefan Čelan (1957), an inventor and specialist in the field of chemical engineering, he has been a mayor of Ptuja for the second four- year electoral period. As his decision to candidate for the post of the mayor again is supported by five political parties, it can be assumed that this pragmatic candidate of the Liberal and democratic party will win the regional election held in October this year and he will be a mayor of the oldest Slovenia town until 2014.
Mr Čelan, you claim that the rich history of Ptuj clearly shows that globalisation tendencies have been present through all stages of human development. What is the main advantage of this historical globalization for modern Ptuj?
These seemingly modern aspirations proved to be irresistible already in antiquity; the Christianity as well as ages of enlightenment the human society has lived through powerlessly yielded to their temptation. But the major advantage of our town lies in the fact that, regardless of a period, the people living here have always been able to understand that the real wealth of the universe resides in its diversity and not in its uniformity. Even more so, for our historical experiences show that preservation and continual development cannot live exclusively on tolerance towards individualistic and national cultures, but on the enlightenment of a soul to be added to this planet of modern nomads. The common feature of every single up-and-down in the general development of our town is the understanding of the superiority of the spirit originating from the philosophy and not (only) economy. Therefore, Ptuj is a town that has experienced a positive development through history only when the contemporary persons living there were able to show respect and esteem to diversity. It might seem daring but I accept the challenge to say that the future success of the human development depends on this sort of experiences and knowledge. As long as the future growth remains based on the spirit of capital and cultural antipodes, we shall experience similar failures as our town has during its long history.
A quick glance of a town shows, however, that besides the enlightenment, the town is also rich in material heritage. What is more superior- medieval material heritage or spiritual creativity?
Ptuj belongs to those towns which, during their several millennia long history, have rarely enjoyed its full civic rights within the national borders. It can be said that our town has always been exposed to the winds blowing from so many different cultures and civilisations, but has, however, managed to remain the capital of enlightenment which ensured many a nation their material wealth. The rich material heritage can be seen literary everywhere and even a random visitor will not fail to notice remains from the Eneolithic, Bronze and Iron Age. However, the city enjoyed the biggest military, political, administrative and economic power during the Roman Empire. It was then that the town became a colony with the name of Colonia Ulpia Traiana Poetovio. Tacit in his Histories describes the meeting of Pannonian legions’ leaders in 69 in the winter-quarters of Poetovio to support Vespasian in his claim to the imperial throne. Despite numerous cultural and religious influences, among others the Mithraicism as one of the first monotheistic beliefs, the town has been until those days under the power of catholic ethos. The superiority of spiritual and material creativity of the Middle Ages is recorded in various written sources and rich cultural heritage. For almost a thousand years the mighty castle complex has been dominating the beautiful medieval town the charm of which is completed by Dominican and Minorite monasteries and the central parish church of Saint George.
History always generates diverse traditions and attitudes towards them. What is a typical product of intangible cultural heritage in Ptuj?
Parallel to the development of material cultural heritage, the intangible cultural legacy has been developing through history, and is nowadays present in numerous traditional events. The ancient market days, such as St. George’s, St. Catherine’s and St. Oswald’s, attract many people, but undoubtedly the most attractive and lively event is the so-called Kurentovanje, the most prestigious carnival event in Slovenia. Kurentovanje is the biggest carnival event of public importance in Slovenia aiming at the preservation and development of the exceptional intangible cultural legacy and ethnographic tradition of the Ptuj region and of entire Slovenia. Kurentovanje should be understood mostly as a cultural process which helps build genuine human relations and teach respect for live and still nature which is so important in our everyday life and work. The main carnival mask is without any doubt Kurent, after which the carnival event in Ptuj has been named, and at the same time it is the most popular and massively used traditional carnival figure. The power of Kurent’s tradition lies in the ritual which intends to bring happiness and force everything bad away. What makes this ritual so noble is the fact that the suffering is shared by the one who craves happiness and the one who calls for it. This rich traditional event and the message it conveys is certainly a bond strong enough to incite and influence positive values of every single person regardless of their nationality, political and religious convictions.
Let’s focus on your development vision of the town? What are the priorities?
Our vision clearly states that Ptuj has to become anew an internationally visible regional and communication centre building its own future on quality traditions, principles of sustainable development, partnerships of public, private and civil-society sectors, while developing itself as a centre of knowledge and creative economy, tourism and culture thus providing quality environment for every generation to live and work in...
Barrosso evaluates the state of the European Union 2010
“Europe must show that it offers more than 27 various solutions approved by its states. We will either remain together or separately fail.”
Europe has shown it will stand up and be counted. Those who predicted the demise of the European Union were proved wrong. The European institutions and the Member States have demonstrated leadership. My message to each and every European is that you can trust the European Union to do what it takes to secure your future.
The economic outlook in the European Union today is better than one year ago, not least as a result of our determined action. The recovery is gathering pace, albeit unevenly within the Union. Growth this year will be higher than initially forecast. The unemployment rate, whilst still much too high, has stopped increasing. Clearly, uncertainties and risks remain, not least outside the European Union.
We should be under no illusions. Our work is far from finished. There is no room for complacency. Budgetary expansion played its role to counter the decline in economic activity. But it is now time to exit. Without structural reforms, we will not create sustainable growth. We must use the next 12 months to accelerate our reform agenda. Now is the time to modernise our social market economy so that it can compete globally and respond to the challenge of demography. Now is the time to make the right investments for our future.
This is Europe’s moment of truth. Europe must show it is more than 27 different national solutions. We either swim together, or sink separately. We will only succeed if, whether acting nationally, regionally or locally we think European.
Monetary union with true economic union
Let me start with the economic crisis and governance. Earlier this year, we acted decisively when euro area members and the euro itself needed our help. We have learned hard lessons. Now we are making important progress on economic governance. The Commission has put its ideas on the table in May and in June. They have been well received, in this Parliament, and in the Task Force chaired by President of the European Council. They are the basis around which a consensus is being developed. We will present the most urgent legislative proposals on 29 September, so as not to lose the momentum.
Unsustainable budgets make us vulnerable. Debt and deficit lead to boom and bust. And they unravel the social safety net. Money that’s spent on servicing debt is money that cannot be spent on the social good. Nor to prepare ourselves for the costs of an ageing population. A debt generation makes an unsustainable nation. Our proposals will strengthen the Stability and Growth Pact through increased surveillance and enforcement. And we need to tackle severe macro-economic imbalances, especially in the Euro area. That is why we have made proposals early on to detect asset bubbles, lack of competitiveness and other sources of imbalances.
I now see a willingness of governments to accept stronger monitoring, backed up by incentives for compliance and earlier sanctions. The Commission will strengthen its role as independent referee and enforcer of the new rules. We will match monetary union with true economic union.
If implemented as we propose, these reforms will also guarantee the long-term stability of the euro. It is key to our economic success.
A financial supervision
For the economy to grow, we also need a strong and sound financial sector. A sector that serves the real economy. A sector that prides itself on proper regulation and proper supervision.
We took action to increase bank transparency. Today we are better than one year ago. With the publication of the stress test results, banks should now be able to lend to each other, so that credit can flow to Europe’s citizens and companies.
We have proposed to protect people’s savings up to €100,000. We will propose to ban abusive naked short selling. We will tackle credit default swaps. The days of betting on someone else’s house burning down are over. We continue to insist that banks, not taxpayers, must pay up front to cover the costs of their own risks of failure. We are legislating to outlaw bonuses for quick-wins today that become big losses tomorrow. As part of this approach, I am also defending taxes on financial activities and we will come with proposals this autumn.
The political deal on the financial supervision package just concluded is very good news. The Commission proposals based on the de Larosiere report will give us an effective European supervision system. I want to thank the Parliament for the constructive role it has played and I hope it will give its final agreement this month.
We will also go further on regulation. Initiatives on derivatives, further measures on credit rating agencies and a framework for bank resolution and crisis management will soon be before you. Our goal is to have a reformed financial sector in place by the end of 2011. Sound government finances and responsible financial markets give us the confidence and economic strength for sustainable growth. We need to move beyond the debate between fiscal consolidation and growth. We can have both. Sound public finances are a means to an end: growth for jobs. Our goal is growth, sustainable growth, inclusive growth. This is our overarching priority. This is where we need to invest.
Europe 2020 starts now. We must frontload and accelerate the most growth-promoting reforms of our agenda. This could raise growth levels by over a third by 2020. This means concentrating on three priorities: getting more people in jobs, boosting our companies’ competitiveness and deepening the single market.
Let me start with people and jobs. Over 6.3 million people have lost their jobs since 2008. Each one of them should have the chance to get back into employment. Europe’s employment rates are at 69% on average for those aged between 20 and 64. We have agreed these should rise to 75% by 2020, bringing in particular more women and older workers into the work force.
Most of the competences for employment policy remain with Member States. But we won’t stand on the sidelines. I want a European Union that helps its people to seize new opportunities; and I want a Union that is social and inclusive. This is the Europe we will build if Member States, the European institutions and the social partners move ahead on our common reform agenda.
It should be centred on skills and jobs and investment in life-long learning.
And it should focus on unlocking the growth potential of the single market, to build a stronger single market for jobs.
The opportunities exist. We have very high levels of unemployment but Europe has now 4 million job vacancies. The Commission will propose later this year a “European Vacancy Monitor”. It will show people where the jobs are in Europe and which skills are needed. We will also come forward with plans for a European skills passport.
We must also tackle problems of poverty and exclusion. We must make sure that the most vulnerable are not left behind. This is the focus of our “Platform Against Poverty”. It will bring together European action for vulnerable groups such as children and old people...
Europe is failing to shape the global governance debate
The EU’s enthusiasm for reshaping global governance has dwindled, and now looks more like indifference. The EU not only risks the debate being shaped elsewhere but may even find itself left out of the discussion altogether.
Pedro Solbes and Richard Youngs (Europe’s World)
Photo: the archive of the IMF
The reform of global economic governance is still firmly on policymakers’ radar screens, but there is little evidence that since London’s G20 Summit in April last year the EU has developed a forward-looking or coherent approach to the new forms of global governance that G20 leaders had committed to.
Several strands of the current European debate are ostensibly joined together by a shared commitment to multi-lateralism. In devising rescue plans for the EU’s financial sector, its drawing up of the new ‘2020 strategy’ and the fashioning of a new EU diplomatic identity, the principle of enhanced multi-lateralism has taken centre stage. And yet the way in which the EU is currently positioning itself on global governance belies its self-declared status as the world’s ‘good multi-lateralist’.
Protectionist Measures and No Move Forward
The G20 pledged that multi-lateral co-operation and interdependence would guide the world out of crisis. Most European policies, however, do not sit well with the spirit of such commitments. The EU may not have imposed sweeping quotas and tariffs, but powerful ‘behind the border’ protectionism has emerged in the form of subsidies, bailouts, ‘buy national’ injunctions and new restrictions on foreign direct investment (FDI). Global Trade Alert, an independent monitor, has identified more than 300 new protectionist measures introduced by G20 members.
Since the G20’s promise last year to move towards concluding the Doha Round, the EU has done nothing in practical terms to achieve this goal. It has declined to introduce measures aimed at improving OECD rules to free up investment flows, and the new Commission led by José Manuel Barroso comprises fewer pro-market members than during his first term. Most in the Commission now seem to advocate more laxity in state-aid rules to fund investment in R&D, so even if we have not witnessed an open dismantling of the Single Market, it is certainly not moving forward anymore....
Dreaming about a truly democratic EU
Introduction of the Lisbon treaty has been widely seen as marking the end of the EU’s institutional reform process for the foreseeable future. It sets out an idea for a much more radical overhaul of the EU’s political and democratic structures...
Charm of the Carpathian Mountains from Carpathian Ruthenia
Naum Zacharovyč Repkin was born Uzhgorod in 1941. He is a typical representative of a significant Carpathian Ruthenian school of landscape painting. He paints his lyric Works full of bight and light colour and folk intonation; he uses traditional techniques on canvas or on cardboard. He has been dealing with fine art for more than 40 years, his teachers were outstanding masters like Anton Kaššaj and Vasiľ Burč whose Works are still praised and protected...
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