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February 2011

Creatures of Slovak Decline
The Biggest Seeds Grower in Serbia
Do you get subsidies for seeds production?
The Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg
The Hospital for Central Europe
A Flagship of Slovak Health Care
Win Attractive Prizes of Round 1
The Justice Council
They propose destabilization of prosecution
Will new blood circle in the Matica?
Slashing the EU's budget will not fix the crisis
How long do the people in the European Union work? How much do they earn?
Do (only) the media want to do harm to euro?
“Carnival of Revolution” for New Egypt
He speaks on the air but not into the air
Lincoln´s “snipers” from the Hungarian Kingdom
Mato Toth/Naive Podravina Valuables
Hammer- throw does not depend on power only

 
Editorial
Creatures of Slovak Decline
 
 It is the same in Slovakia every Sunday. First, most of the people go to church in the morning; those who do not believe in God go to shopping centres or cafés. People in churches listen to the evangelism and sermons and think about their lives and acts. They search for the answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Having been encouraged and satisfied by priests, they return home so that they have lunch in peace being surrounded by their families or close people. Many say to themselves: at least one day a week, at least on Sunday, I would like to relax and be away from all the problems and do not want to sort out anything. Some of them have a short sleep, while the others go for a walk or switch on TV to watch at least one relaxing and sensible film (for example the stories of Hercule Poirot).
However, Slovenská televízia (The Slovak television) and TV Markíza have spoiled Sunday lunchtime and its atmosphere for a few years. Between 11.55 am and 1.30 pm, they broadcast two publicist programmes in which TV presenters lead discussions with Slovak politicians. Viewers who want to watch them have a few options: have lunch quickly so that they did not miss it, or watch it while eating, or a husband and wife have a typical argument about what is their priority (lunch or television) or they just decide not to watch it.
All in all, this broadcasting time is a source of tension in families. Another source is our Slovak politicians who in live or recorded broadcasting regularly tell lies to their viewers, tell them just a partial truth or they just have nothing to tell them. Nevertheless, it is the matter of habit. Many of us watch these programmes, as we believe in what we have learned from them. However, we often feel rather disappointed and we regret: why did I watch it?
At present, each Slovak politician (apart a few exceptions) represents a kind of a man whom we cannot trust. He lives using citizens´ taxes and earns a living from mediating political services, speculates, hides the truth, pretends to be responsible, honest and moral “servant” who wants to serve citizens, a state and the European Union. His biggest enemy is not a deficit of public finances or corruption but the truth as it reveals his character and acts.
 Richard Sulík, a modern and hardworking right and liberal politician, is a very good example. His opinions, presentation and a way of communication, however, remind us more of a clown with no education than a speaker of the parliament. On the one hand, he declares that we will never cooperate with communists and Mr Fico, but on the other hand, he is a part of
a government, which involves former communists such as Iveta Radičová. He claims that there are no communists, people who collaborates with the state intelligence service, and criminals in his party Sloboda a solidarita (Freedom and solidarity- in English). Nevertheless, he does not talk about the fact that he and his colleagues from the party grew up and studied in socialistic Czechoslovakia (as did most of contemporary Slovak politicians, ministers and officials), were socialistic “zväzáci” and prospect candidates of selective Communistic Party of Slovakia. Not mentioning the fact if they continued or continue cooperating with foreign intelligence service after 1989. Moreover, we do not know either whether his political party also involves people who are addicted to drugs, occultism, homosexual affairs and “wild parties” away from Slovakia.
He is creating and developing his image of a strict and tough anti-communist. He likes telling people what to do and talks about values but how does he present and pursue them?
What do we really know about him? Did he really emigrate with his parents to Germany in 1980 when he was twelve or he just temporarily changed his permanent address and “moved” to Germany? He came back already in 1991 as he wanted to start up his business but he did not fancy doing so in Germany. He established and developed his company FaxCopy at the time of no Internet in Slovakia. Nevertheless, did he just sell copying machines or he traded information as well? In 2003, he completed his economic education at the University of Economics in Bratislava. However, if we have to believe his words that this university was for him just “the best secondary business school” in Slovakia, what are we supposed to think about this education and intellect, as he probably did not manage to complete the study of physics and economy at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich…?
And taking into consideration how he has managed to make impression in Slovakia, apart from the equal tax of 19% which he offered to Ivan Mikloš, a Minister of Finance (a graduate and assistant from the socialistic University of Economics), we must admit that there is nothing he has made impression with, nothing extraordinary. Whoops, I apologize, there is another success of his marketing product called SaS (Sloboda a solidarita- a political party), an internet political party, i.e. success in the election held in June 2010. In addition, what has he achieved since then? Have we ever heard from him, as from an economist, any sensible economic conceptions or visions for Slovakia and the European Union? How many press conferences has his party organized to deal with topics like how to really enhance entrepreneurial environment in Slovakia, how to revive declining Slovak country or renew food security and self- sufficiency in Slovakia? He just focused on blogs. Moreover, it seems that he does not manage any of his positions or posts. He has not managed to defend his theories and proposals that he wanted to implement in the governmental agenda and in so-called reforms of tax and deduction system. He appears to be weak and ridiculous like our prime minister- Iveta Radičová. She is also hiding her socialistic past and builds up her political credit just from the times of post- November disintegrated political party “Verejnosť proti násiliu”. A party which legally after reaching an agreement with communists took over ruling in the country and gave birth to many incapable careerists and officials with socialistic thinking. But, on the other hand, with a great gift of learning and saying phrases. Transformation is a magic word and makes an impression that former communists, actually, had never been communists. If so, just formally… Nevertheless, socialistic education cannot be forgotten and eliminated. It is still circulating in their blood, in both so-called Slovak right winged politicians and liberals. However, there is a difference. Instead of talking about building and developing of socialism, socialistic society and the Soviet Union, at present, they talk about integrated European Union, open and liberal civic society and free market. The fact that they miss exact contents and deeds are left somewhere aside. And the latest example? The declaration of prime minister of V4 in Bratislava. According to it, the countries of V-4 together with the EU want to put a stop to speculative increase in prices of groceries, raw materials and energies. “I believe that we will reach a common solution to how to eliminate unlimited and speculative growth of prices,” Mrs Radičová declared. In other words, although they want to stop it, they do not know how. Not yet. They are searching for a solution and they hope to find it during the summit of the European Union, which will be held in March. However, what solutions are they actually looking for, as the EU has not solved the consequences of economic and financial crisis? Will they get back to the socialistic model of price control in the “free market” that are being controlled by speculative people? Mr Sulík, an economist, should know that and so should Mrs Prime Minister, who is a sociologist, but she depends on her counsellors. She does not want to decrease VAT on groceries, as the prices do not go down in Germany and Poland either. But be aware of the fact that in those states the VAT on food is just 7 per cent. Would the price of groceries decrease in Slovakia if our Slovak VAT decreased by 13 per cent? The main priority of our prime minister and her government should be the renewal of food self- sufficiency on Slovakia through renewal of Slovak country, establishing new farms, supporting new producing, processing plants, and operations that would provide job opportunities to many people. She should be inspired by German and Polish self- sufficiency; it could be motivation for non- existing economic and agricultural policy in Slovakia. Euro funds are not enough and their miserable utilization stands for everything. It is high time they did something and stopped hiding behind declarations. Just hand out flour and pasta to people with very low income- it is just so undignified and embarrassing for Slovakia if we are aware of the fact they there will be five hundred thousand people of that kind. This policy leads Slovakia to destruction, to social resentment and they will have to fight against new “bread” immigration. The slogan “Slovakia, a place for better living,” by which Professor Radičová addressed to her voters, is hardly trustworthy and ridiculous like well- known socialistic motto: “Develop your country and you will strengthen peace!”      
Robert Matejovic, editor-in-chief  
 
Personality
The Biggest Seeds Grower in Serbia
“My corn can be sown all over Slovakia. Serbia and my firm offer high quality but cheap production of corn and seeds, “says Igor Sabo, an ethnical Slovak and a CEO of the Serbian company AgroSeme Invest, d.o.o.
 
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the author
 
In Serbia, he is not famous as an ethnical Slovak but mainly as a reputable specialist and manager. Providing his services, he opened Serbian door to significant European and world cultivating and farming firms that produce high- quality seeds of different kinds of cereal. Annually, he produces 15,000 tons of seeds such as barley and wheat, 5000 tons of corn, 2000 tons of soybeans and 250 ton of sunflower. However, his high priority is to focus on production and processing of high quality corm seeds in cooperation with reputable farmers such as KWS (Germany), RAGT (France), Euralis (France) and Farm Saat (Germany). He also cooperates with domestic growers- with the Institute of Corn in Zemun Polje and the Institute for Field and Vegetable Crops in Novi Sad.
He also deals with production, finishing and sale of wheat and barley seeds and seeds called Triticale (hybrid of wheat and rye) through technical cooperation with reputable firms- German BayWA, Danish Sejet, French Florimond Despreuz and Italian Sociatá Produttori Sementi. More than 40% of his production is exported, mostly to Germany, France, the USA, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and to so- called the Kosovo Republic. Since 2009, he has been establishing his position in Belarus where he exports seeds of fodder root and sugar beet crops.
 
Mr Sabo, you are said to be a specialist worth working at university. In addition, you are still being asked to teach there. What made you run your own business?
Vojvodina is an agricultural country, it has highly developed agricultural and food processing industries. Moreover, I have always been interested in trade as well as production. I felt that production of seeds of wheat, soy, corn and sunflower is a great opportunity. There are suitable climate conditions for its growing in Vojvodina; there is high quality and fertile soil, enough sunny days. I could see that seeds are a very good business. At the beginning I searched for producers of seeds via the internet, first I produced them for domestic market. Then I went further and began looking for new opportunities abroad and now I am glad I can help not only great European forms but also mainly Serbian farmers to increase quality and domestic production.
 
Production of seeds is said to be very specific and demanding and that only well- educated and qualified people can carry it out. How would you explain the criteria and procedure of successful production of seed to non-professionals? What does influence this job? Is it enough simply imagine breeding of plants?
Yes, it is not easy production and not every farmer can do it. Apart from the education and qualifications, production of seeds requires a long- term experience and contacts with seed enterprises in the world. Relations and contacts in this business have to be built for a long time. It is not easy at all to establish yourself as a reliable and long-term partner. High quality of seeds and competitive prices of production of seeds (thanks to the climate in Vojvodina and high productivity) helped us become one of reliable seed enterprises.
We buy cereal for feeding as well as for sowing. We dry the seeds first and then we crush them. Then, we test their health condition and quality of seeds (quality of sprouts) in our laboratory in the company Laboratoria Sirmium- Seme. When seeds meet the criteria of sprouts quality, then they are preserved by fungicide, a chemical substance against parasitic fungi and moulds. If a customer wishes to have seeds protected against insect, we use insecticides. After chemical treatment, we pack seeds and deliver them to a foreign and domestic partner.
 
How do you find out quality of sprouts, how is it measured and judged?
Quality of sprouts is tested according to methods and standards ISTA, the international association for seeds testing. Our employees in the laboratories have to attend seminars and workshops organized by ISTA at least once a year so that they could observe and apply new standards in their work in the field of testing quality of seeds.
 
Do you apply science in seed growing? Do you try to do any experiments?
We apply science through seeds production which we organize together in cooperation with our farmers with whom we are trading to achieve such a level of production as farmer in developed European states, for example in France. In our enterprise, there is no special department that would focus on development of new hybrids and kinds of agricultural cereal. Our experimental activities are in its early years. So far, we have done a few experiments within agro technology, which is applied in production of seeds. Development and breeding of new kinds is a very demanding activity, it depends on material and financial requirements as well as work force. Our enterprise has neither facilities nor interest in such activities.
 
Your most favourite activity is production of corn seeds. Why just this crop and not wheat or barley? What make corn so attractive?
Vojvodina is well- known thanks to corn and reminds of a world famous Corn Belt in American Arizona. Corn is a crop that is used in many different branches of economy and even in many spheres of human life. For example, corn is grown for needs of bio- fuel, food-processing industry and even as an ingredient for pharmaceutical and automotive industries.
However, there is one more thing that influenced my love in producing corn seeds. In Vojvodina, there are Slovak cities and villages that are well- known thanks to growing corn. Greater amount of corn are purchased in Slovak municipalities. Somehow, I consider corn as a cereal of Slovaks from Lower Lands that is grown on Slovak villages regardless current market conditions and prices.
 
Do you apply Serbian or west European know- how when producing and processing corn seeds and cereal?
We apply all the best knowledge coming from seed enterprises.
Over the past four years, our cooperation with foreign partners has contributed to the development of our company. However, I still have the feeling that quality of our seeds could be increased in cooperation with farmers and further investments in equipment in our operations. We set up to the future our goal. We would like to reach such a level of quality of seeds as west European enterprises do.
 
Serbia produces 7 million tons of corn every year, 3 tons are usually exports mainly to Italy, Germany and the Near East. Is it the maximum production Serbian producers are able to produce?
I think that corn production can be increased in Serbia; we have an average output around 5.2 tons per hectare. Compared to neighbouring Hungary, we can see that there is still a space for significant increase of our production. Better agro technology, new kinds of corn with genetic potential and higher use of industrial fertilizers can increase corn production by a million tons.
 
Do you export corn seeds to Slovakia?
In Serbia corn seeds are grown on the area of 12,000 hectares, however, the potential is 20,000 hectares. In Slovakia, corn seeds are grown only on the area of 2,000 hectares. I do not export corn seeds in Slovakia as you are self- sufficient and you export the rest of your production. Slovakia is not a country that has suitable conditions for growing corn, Slovak farmers rather grow cereal that bring them bigger crops and make higher profit.
 
Can Serbian farmers and growers of cereal export their production to the countries of the European Union without any problems? Which market is the most important for them?
Thanks to the agreement Serbia signed with the EU, our country has had free export to the countries of the EU since 2000. Serbian farmers and agriculturists take advantage of this opportunity at its full extent. The European Union is the most important market for them. As far as I know, it is almost 90 % of their production. Predominantly corn and sugar from sugar beet are exported.
Serbia has also signed agreements on free trade with the Russian Federation, Belarus and Turkey. I think that Serbian agro- industry will establish itself on these markets and mainly with production of seeds.
 
What do you think about modern biotechnologies, which are used in the USA for production of generically modified cereal and food? Europe protects itself against this trend of “cheaper production of food” for large crowds of people with low income…
It is actual topic- i.e. production of GM food. Necessity grows GM cereal increases in times of high process for food (as at present) and when consumption of basic food (bread and meat) becomes a luxury for people from poor countries and regions.
Modern biotechnologies of cereal production via application of GM cereal have become standard in strong agricultural states such as the USA, Argentina and Brazil, which are the biggest exporters of cereal in the world market.
The European Union is a last fortress that protects itself against producing GM cereal (mainly corn). However, the pressure of strong international companies is high and permanent. Some countries of the EU (Spain and even Slovakia) allowed limited production of generically modified corn and through monitored consumption; they attempt to supervise entire procedure, from the production to consumption.
I think that growing GM cereal must be regulated at the level of the EU, they have to define standards for the level of GM cereal in cereal as such and for the methodology which will be applied in defining the level of GM cereal in cereal. This is the only way to get rid of present chaos in regulations of presence of GM cereal that is so obvious in the EU.
 
Is it allowed to grow genetically modified cereal and food in Serbia?
No, it is not allowed to grow them. According to Serbian legislation, there is so- called zero tolerance of genetically modified substances. Let us not forget that within forming closer relationships between Serbia and the European Union and with integration process, the Serbian legislation will have to change and adjust to the legislation of the Union.
 
In case of corn, the European Union allows to grown only genetically modified corn MON 810. It contains genetic information coding production of poison, so-called BT- toxin that kills harmful insect. Do you produce corn seed of this corn?
No. We do not produce any genetically modified cereal.
 
What do you think of such corn? Could it be grown in Serbia?
Growing of genetically modified corn containing BT_ toxin is used in very specific climate (Spain) where reproduction of insects that damages corn during the entire vegetation period. This is the only solution for farmers who need to grow corn.
Of course, this corn could be grown in Serbia, but we have completely different climate conditions and we do not need this corn.
We have bigger problems (And so you do in Slovakia) with corn rootworms (Diabrotica). If there were a modified corn against this pest, its growing would have an exception.
 
Is it nowadays possible to produce organic corn and cereal, i.e. crops that seeds were not treated chemically?
Yes, it is possible, but production of organic corn and organic cereal cannot be financed, as it is far too expensive. Moreover, I think that you need stable market and you have to plan your production many years in advance. I think that in our country and even in European, selling organic corn and other cereal is not profitable at all. High prices of commodities still put farmers off growing organic cereal. Despite high subsidies provided to producers of organic plants, only keen ones deal with production of organic plants and crops.
 
Do Serbian farmers trust French and German seeds?
We have a good perspective as we offer new kinds of high category. Although they are more expensive than domestic ones, they are more productive. Our farmers are interested in them. Every year, share of farmers purchasing seeds from west Europe increases.
 
How do you cooperate with farmers? How do you control them?
Our cooperation starts from sowing and lasts to delivery of seeds from our processing operations. Meanwhile, we observe how they sow seeds, how they look after crops, we give them advice on agro technology to use. WE have to be with them in the field. During the vegetation period, fields are always checked even by the inspection of the Ministry of Agriculture.
As the production of seeds is very specific, it does not end with delivery to our operation, our cooperation with farmers continues in the areas of defining quality of seeds (purity, sprouts, health condition). After fulfilling all the requirements for quality of cereal and seeds, we pay a farmer for produced seeds. Purchasing prices are much hire than prices of produced cereal.
 
Do you cooperate with Slovak growers and breeders? Are Serbian farmers interested in Slovak kinds of wheat or corn?
In the past, I tried to cooperate with Slovak breeders of wheat. I think that Slovak breeders are much better than west European ones in case of winter wheat. They should use this advantage in combination with breeding of various kinds of wheat that has high genetic potential.
 
Is Serbia interested in Slovak and Hungarian industrial fertilizers? How do they compete Serbian ones?
The Serbian marker still lack industrial fertilizers of all kinds. Slovak and Hungarian ones cannot compete Serbian ones in terms of the price because production of Serbian fertilizers is supported by the state. Thus, subsidies negatively influence conditions in our market. I believe it will change in the future.
 
What enables you the position of the leader in the Serbian market?
WE differ from other producers of seed as we pay attention not only to the quality of seeds but also to implementation of new kind in the Serbian market. Thus we are always one step ahead our competitors.
 
What is your vision of the future development?
It is based on the extending the production of corn seed and launching new kind of wheat in the Serbian market, or on activities that will increase import of artificial fertilizers to Serbia. My ambition is to deal with trade and not just processing of cereal. We would like to become number one in production of corn seeds and increase its production up to 6 or 7 tons every year through new contracts or foreign strategic partners. A great advantage of Serbia is that it has an agreement on free trade with the Russian Federation. I believe that next year we will succeed in penetrating this market.
 
Do you get subsidies for seeds production?
The state does not support seeds production, it does not have any stimulation programs or subsidies and it does not even purchase them.
 
What is the status of the development of the Serbian agriculture now?
The development is rather high despite having more opportunities for further prosperity. Trade balance is positive, it reaches surplus of 1 billion dollars. We have 85% of farms farming the land up to 5 hectares, about 10% of large farm on the area up to 100 hectares and five per cent of farms are larger than 100 hectares. Every year, animal production decreases and Serbia has not enough milk these days. Fortunately, the state provides subsidies for milk production. The structure of our agriculture is similar to one in Poland, this sector employs between 15 and 20 per cent of citizens.
 
Is it worth being a farmer in Serbia?
The market determines purchasing prices of seeds and commodities. Price are acceptable, farmers are able to survive. It is worth running a farm as they receive state subsidy of 150 Euro per hectare of what they grow.
 
This year Serbia should become an EU candidate country. How do you classify readiness of Serbian agriculture for continual integration with the agricultural policy of the European Union? What are Serbian farmers afraid of?
I am happy Serbia will become a candidate country. It will influence economy positively and mainly on agriculture. In case of our enterprise, we will be given new opportunities and surely, we will find new partners. Serbian agriculture is ready for competitive market and can compete European countries successfully, apart from the animal production that has been experiencing very difficult times. Serbian farmers are afraid of being flooded by such EU products that are much cheaper than products of domestic farmers due to high subsidies. They are also worried about new farmers coming from West Europe and about competition, which will appear mainly when purchasing, and selling soil as a main source of agricultural production. I think that some worries are not based rationally and that Serbian farmers are not well informed about many opportunities being offered via various programs of cooperation with the EU and which are dedicated to candidate countries. Who is right and if the worries were needless, time will tell soon. By the end 2011, Serbia should have become a candidate country and we will see immediately what are advantages and disadvantages of being a member of the EU.
 
Who is Dipl. Ing. Igor Sabo?
He was born on 23 August 1969 in Serbian town of Vrsac in the Banat in Vojvodina, which is situated near the Serbian- Romanian borders. His father was Slovak, and came from Bácsky Petrovec; his mother was Serbian. He spent his childhood in Kulpin where he attended Slovak primary school. He completed his secondary studies at the Slovak Secondary Grammar School in Bácsky Petrovec. He is a graduate from the Agricultural Faculty of University in Novi Sad (1993); he specializes on agro- economy. In the 50 – year history of this university, he is its historically best student ever. He always passed his exams for the first time and he always got one (In Serbia it is ten).
He is a Slovak and he is a member of Matica Slovenská in Yugoslavia. He lives in Novi Sad. Since 1999, he has been an entrepreneur with cereal and industrial fertilizers. In 2002, he bought a state enterprise AgroSeme in Sremska Mitrovica (at present AgroSeme Invest, d.o.o.) This is currently the biggest processor and producer of seeds in Serbia. He also owns a hotel Sirmium and a restaurant Probus, a popular tourist attraction in the town. He employs almost 200 people. He is married and has two children. He speaks Serbian, Slovak and English.    
    
Photo report
The Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg
 
Invest story
The Hospital for Central Europe
Medissimo is a pioneer of modern, high- standard and complex lifelong health care in Slovakia and in the Central European region.
 
At last, Slovakia has a top quality hospital with a policlinic that focuses on foreign clients and patients mainly from the European Union and the countries of Central Europe. As a private hospital Medissimo, the company SI Medical, s.r.o., a subsidiary corporation of the group Slovintegra, a.s, has operated it for two years. It is located in the attractive environment on the coast of the natural pool Veľký Dražiak in Petržalka in Bratislava.
This hospital represents the biggest private investment within the Slovak health care and modern philosophy of providing services in the field of health care. Its construction took two years and required the total investment of 30 million Euro.
 It is unique in many ways. It has the most modern digitalized diagnostic centre in Central Europe, it applies individual and partner approach to patients, it offers comprehensive life-long health care to its clients and it provides all the services under one roof and with no waiting time. It is available to everyone whose main life priority is health- for individual clients and their families, employers and their employees. The hospital is welcoming to clients who feel responsible for their health and search individual approach, openness, amiability and responsibility. It offers a concept of high standard life-long health care to clients who are aware that the most efficient way of health care is a combination of obligatory health insurance and individual contribution of a patient- client.
 
Successful
A Flagship of Slovak Health Care
Obsession of health care at the highest level will meet long-term demands of patients and clients for high- quality services in terms of medicine.
 
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the author, the archive of SI Medical, s.r.o.
 
Since August 2010, MUDr Katarína Kafková has managed the Hospital with Policlinic Medissimo. She is an experienced manager and reputable specialist in health care. As a doctor, she specialises on aenestiology and resuscitation. After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine at Comenius University, she worked at the Intensive Care Medicine Unit at the Children’s Faculty Hospital in Bratislava where she worked as a pedagogue within her post- gradual education of doctors for twelve years. For five years, she worked for Všeobecná zdravotná poisťovňa, for a year at the Ministry of Health Care of the Slovak Republic and for a short time, at the Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic. For four years, she was the director of purchasing for the medical care department of UNION zdravotná poisťovňa, a.s. (Health Insurance Company) where she assessed providers of medical care based on the quality of the medical care they provided. She introduced progressive and innovative methods and techniques that supported improved medical care quality by contract-bound providers of medical care.  
 
Mrs Kafková, why have you decided to accept the offer and UNION zdravotná poisťovňa, a.s. in which you were mainly responsible for contracts with all providers of medical care?
This private health insurance company had given me, mainly thanks to trust of a shareholder, a Dutch group Eureko and the board of directors, a great opportunity to perform health care policy on the side of inputs- i.e. signing the contracts with providers of health care focused only on our clients and quality of services provided. In this company, we implemented our own objective and transparent systems of quality assessment of providers of health care and from them, the whole system of differentiated payment for provided health care. Those systems were built together and based on mutual agreement with representatives of providers of health care. We began with assessment of big providers- general and specialized hospitals. The assessment was connected with their visits, knowing the exact hospital and people who worked there while they were evaluating communication with patients and their relatives. I confess that I had been dealing with the idea to open Slovak market of a provider of health care for the citizens of the European Union and use free movement of people for health care. I had just seen a great opportunity just in clients of all companies covered by Eureko within Europe (at that time- 13 states). During my visits to hospitals, I carefully chose suitable candidates for citizens of the European Union and the hospital Medissimo became one of my favourite candidates. That moment played an important role in making a decision to “leave” the company, which finances it, which had good health care policy and good relationship with it.
 
How do you evaluate conditions for establishment and development of private hospitals in Slovakia, we have only two- one in Bratislava and one in Košice…
The project of hospital Medissimo is a unique project in the Slovak Republic. It is a hospital built in a ‘green field’; it is modern with high amount of investments in new technologies, with outstanding staff and in the beautiful surrounding of the capital city of the Slovak Republic. I consider a decision made by shareholders of the company to build Medissimo as a fortunate decision and I perceive our hospital with a great prospect. Many of us already have experience from “west world.” That is why we are willing to accept legal payment for health care if the quality is perceived as excellent, if personnel is not only professional but also empathic, kind and caring, if I have all services arranged without having to wait and in a short time and under one roof, if I know that examinations are carried out by the state- of –the –art technologies which do not endanger my health.
On the other hand, let us face the truth- beginnings are always tough and everybody has to go through “giving a birth” to the company. We have already been born and our reputation has spread very quickly throughout Slovakia. We are known not only among the citizens of the Slovak Republic but also by foreigners living in Slovakia. Clients visit us, and their number is continuously increasing. I am glad that we have become an alterative of providers of health care in Austria for foreign people who live and work in Slovakia. We sign contracts with foreign health insurance companies although we are permanently being refused by the biggest Slovak providers of finances for healthcare what seems to be very strange and beyond understanding.
 
What does the name “ Medissimo” stand for? Does this project have its model abroad (for example in Switzerland)?
It is a Slovak project, which is for each client- a Slovak citizen for the citizens of the European Union and other foreigners. We attempt to meet demands of all our clients and be the best in our field among what is available in Slovakia. We would like to fulfil requirement of those clients who demand for the highest quality on terms of services provided. It is like in music, pianno and pianissimo (quiet and quieter) or forte and fortissimo (loud and even louder), there are also generic varieties in health care and a pun that clearly define the sense and philosophy of medical care and health care. In our perception, Medisssimo is derivated from the word medicine and means obsession by health care at the highest possible level.
 
Do you cooperate with similar hospitals in the EU?
It is our priority to develop cooperation with top subjects in the Slovak Republic and we are just beginning cooperation with foreign partners.
 
What is your vision of hospital development after you have taken its management? How do you evaluate its position in Slovakia and demands for its services?
When I first visited it, it was just being constructed. In addition, at that time, I already wanted to be its clients. I could see the future image of this hospital, what kinds of services would it provide and what would be the system of care for clients like. It was like a real film. After particular time, I became the part of this film. My plans with the hospital are very ambitious and the goals are exact. They are demanding, they are not typical for our Slovak conditions but they can be carried out. I must confess that some visions require particular time to make them work. Saying it in different words, the train that has already started moving is continuously gaining its speed, the number of passengers is increasing and there are more and more satisfied clients who return and recommend us to their friends and relatives.
 
Will you tell us more about financing the hospital from public and private sources (patients)? Is Union, the health insurance company, an exclusive partner of the hospital?
Union is, at present, the only Slovak insurance company that accepts finances and us us based on objective qualitative parameters. Recently, there is a public discussion held concerning nosokomial (hospital) diseases. We do not have them as we have implemented strict hygiene regime and we thoroughly pay attention to control of cleanness of our environment. Prevention in protection of client’s health is the basic postulate in our acts in order to develop good reputation of the company. Thus, we could continue in talking about all the activities that we have carried out but I do not see the point of doing so. Simply said, we are a completely different hospital and not only because of its name. Foreign insurance houses can appreciate that and finance their client directly with our hospital.
 
One of your main goals is to improve the quality of providing health care, client services and make your prices for high- standard services affordable for many citizens. Is it a shift from the original goal – to focus mainly on limited number of private and corporate clients?
We are opened to everyone who would like to receive high quality in Slovak health care. This idea is not new, just the hospital laws new and at the beginning it was rather unknowns and hardly any people new about its portfolio of services. I dare to claim that Slovakia has a new fleet ship. Our price policy significantly focuses on clients as well as it takes contract- bound relations with Slovak health insurance companies into consideration.
 
What is a price of a standard package of services and what does it contain?
The offer of exact products with various contents is rather wide and available on our internet site (www.medissimo.sk). We are able to adjust to individual needs of a client and prepare a special offer made according to his health conditions or exact requirements.  
 
Do you pay the greatest attention to complex prevention and complex examinations with a life- long health care? What does your hospital specialize on?
Our philosophy is to be a “hospital” for each client and his relatives. Moreover, as we as a general hospital, we focus on a client when healthy and ill, both not serious and serious one. One of our top priorities is to develop long- term relationships and loyalty of our clients to our hospital.
 
Will you enlarge a ward block? What is your philosophy of using hospital beds?
The interest in our services (ambulant treatment, diagnostics, and hospitalisation) is increasing and that is why we are forced to consider enlarging ward block capacities.
 
How do you choose doctors, do you use “only” their experience from abroad?
I am glad to say thar our employees are fantastic considering all aspects, with a lot of experience abroad, with other culture of relations, with a lot of experience and specialized practice.
 
Do you have permanent staff or you have to search for doctors?
Fluctuation is rather low and I do not expect the change of this state. I suppose that in a very short time, working for or cooperating with our hospital will become a matter of prestige and honour. Perceiving it through the eyes of our staff, we provide our employees with new unusual opportunities of cooperation with them.
 
Are there enough specialists in Slovakia (in Bratislava)?
At present, there are enough specialists in Slovakia. However, the situation will be rather alarming in a few years. We are all aware of “slow awakening” of doctors who are beginning to demand for their moral reward, esteem to their status as well as their financial reward. If they are not given it in Slovakia, they will leave to live and work abroad as soon as they complete their specialised education and training or just straight after graduating from university. Providing the situation does not change in the near future, we will have to count on the fact that not finances but the availability of specialist will become a serious problem in health care.
 
Are you successful in pursuing four- month communication courses that you have implemented for doctors and personnel? What do you pay the greatest attention to?
I am a doctor and I remember the syllabi within which there was no attention paid to our communication skills. That is why we pay attention to our employees to strengthen their communication potential, teach them basic principle of empathy and show them how to solve crises. This system has been very successful and we would like to develop in the future.   
 
Interview
Test for Košice
The World Ice- Hockey Championship will reveal strengths and weaknesses of the second Slovak city, which intends to be involved in the map of the most popular tourist destinations in Central Europe and make the project within the project Košice- the European Capital of Culture 2013 visible.
 
Košice is finishing its preparations for the World Ice Hockey Championship. The first team officially announced their arrival on April 27, 2011. Accommodation capacities have already been sold out; the others are being search in the area of a hundred and two hundred kilometres including Hungarian cities of Miskolc and Debrecen. New city administration attempts to eliminate consequences of passiveness of previous city leaders and to rescue as much as possible. It seems that finally, everything has been done and managed just right on time and Košice will handle the World Ice Hockey Championship. “We would like the fans to perceive Košice as a city of culture and entertainment. During the Championship, the Days of Košice will be held as well, so there will be many cultural events organized there. We will try to concentrate fans in Fan Village which will be located in the Main Street near the Hotel Double Tree by Hilton,” says Richard Raši, a Mayor of Košice.
 
Competition
Win Attractive Prizes of Round 1
A knowledge competition held due to the World Ice- Hockey Championship 2011 in Slovakia.
 
The Justice Council
What will Žitňanska´s administration of justice be like since May 2011?
“I wonder why the European Commission has remained silent and has not taken any action so far, “states Štefan Harabin, a chairman of the Judiciary Council of the Slovak Republic.
 
The Slovak Parliament broke the veto of President Ivan Gašparovič in case of the amendment of the Law on Judges and Associate Judges that will come into force since May 1, 2011. Regarding this situation, you declared that breaking the veto was the worst possible solution to the judicature and that Minster Lucia Žitňanská is the same as Mr Orbán. In your opinion, do you think that “Orban-trend” in judicature is being implemented in Slovakia? What development do you expect in Slovak judicature since May 2011? Will it strengthen independence of justice and better conditions for judges and their work?
 
Well, this amendment as well as any other steps having been taken by Lucia Žitňanská, a Minister of Justice, does not solve anything concerning our citizens, entrepreneurs, and judiciary and law enforcement. It is only about gaining the greatest political power and control over judicature from Minister Žitňanská´s side. Over the past twenty years, no minister has ever behaved in such an authoritative way. I feel sad that this kind of behaviour is being performed by a reader of law nominated by the political party that has “Christianity and democracy” in its name. Her steps are against Christianity as well as democracy. Literally, it destroys and damages everything that the Slovak republic obliged itself to do during the EU integration negotiations. I wonder why the European Commission has remained silent and has not taken any action so far. The reform of the judiciary system that I respected as well as the result of the compromise in the professional field and political scene when constitutional laws were approved by both coalition and opposition. I do not usually praise Daniel Lipšic, a present Minister of Interior, for his attempts in the field of justice as his era of a minister of justice was accompanied by more than 7O disciplinary proposals that ended up in the bin, by establishing a Special Court, which was against the Slovak constitution. However, I must admit that the system of selection procedures in judicature was objective and transparent. A little good that Mr Lipšic created is, now, being damaged by Minister Žitňanská who behaves like a dictator sorting out her personal conflict in public getting the entire justice involved. Proofs are for example, unfair disciplinary action taken for illegal attempt of the control at the Supreme Court of the SR politically motivated by Ivan Mikloš, a Minister of Finances. We are ruled by so-called “non- governmental sector.” I would like to point out that I do not attack non- governmental organizations doing their rewarding job as for instance those providing help to victims of violence at home, protect environment, etc. I am talking about organizations that are a kind of pioneer camps for future medial leaders, ministers and politicians. I have a feeling that Minister Žitňanská became a sort of a spokesperson of Mrs Wienková who has no idea and shows no knowledge about the law, the acts and specific information. She just organizes medial campaign through her journalists. It was rather visible during the session of the Judiciary Council. The only think she was able to do there was to play the “puppet theatre”. However, she will not wind me up. Personally, I see that the attacks against my person will continue as they are motivated by personal and private revenge for legislative obstruction of legal usury.
Through the amendment of the Law on Judges and Associate Judges, the officials of the political groups will finally get to what they really fancy- posts and power. I expect an increase in attempts of political “businesses” in order to shorten the period of holding my post and criminalization of my person via politically elaborated cases. Let me allow changing a topic for a while- it is the same with the election of the general prosecutor currently being discussed- it is about future political processes and particular media have already been preparing the ground for initiating them. In addition, obviously, there is medial nonsense regarding openness of judiciary that is public and transparent based on the laws because the system of appeals and cassations decrease corruption to its minimum level. However, the problem of justice is improvement of quality of decision- making processes and quickening legal actions. It might sound like my self-praise but I cannot avoid mentioning resolutions of the Committee at the Council of Ministers of Justice of the Council of Europe from December 2010 in Budapest. The document states that only exact steps such as increasing the number of judges, renewal of cancelled judges, electronic control of files, passing efficient amendments for quickening legal actions in the years 2007 and 2010 appeared to be the right way that shortened legal action from 17 and a half down to 13 months. Unfortunately, this process has been stopped in Slovakia and now it is all about how to seize judiciary by their own people. Nevertheless, I will observe this process carefully, through the website I will publicize, for example, winners of selection process agreed in advance, who are connected with politics. Moreover, regarding courts and judges, I do not really envy them the pressure and worsening their work conditions, for example by cancelling trainings for judges. In addition, the Justice Academy is danger too as education and training of judges is supposed to be given to hands of non- governmental organizations in order to use grants. However, I believe that judges who are aware enough and always remember their oath, they will consider the constitution, laws and facts as the most important. I would like to sum it up in one sentence- Slovakia being led by Minister Žitňanská and her clan has moved far away from the idea: ius est ars boni at equi- justice is an art of good and justice.  
 
Opinion
They propose destabilization of prosecution
Will Iveta Radičová, a Prime Minister, and Minister Žitňanská attend Dobroslav Trnka´s training course? How do these ladies respect the laws and the Slovak Constitution?
 
We are interested…
Will new blood circle in the Matica?
Two questions for Marian Tkáč, a Chairman of the Matica slovenská, who would like to re-earn its reputation and revive its activities.
 
Opinion Poll
Should history of Christianity, Christian philosophy, culture and art be taught at Slovak Schools? How can it help to increase education and awareness of Christians?
 
The European Union
Slashing the EU's budget will not fix the crisis
The EU's proposed budget for 2014-20 has already sparked fierce wrangling between member governments, with the UK, Germany and France reportedly backing a freeze.
 
No Comment
How long do the people in the European Union work? How much do they earn?
 
Survey
Do (only) the media want to do harm to euro?
The media’s controversial role in the €-zone crisis points at managed chaos and manipulation with information being performed by influential banks and anonymous investors. This game just helped American dollar.
 
Reflexion
“Carnival of Revolution” for New Egypt
The unemployment rate in the country reaches 14 million people and more that a half of inhabitants has to survive with two dollars a day.
 
Culture
He speaks on the air but not into the air
“I never give my guests questions to prepare in advance,” says Vlado Franc, a speaker of the programme called “Túto hudbu mám rád” ( I like this music).
 
History
Lincoln´s “snipers” from the Hungarian Kingdom
Volunteer having been recruited in the Slovak parts of Chicago also fought in the American Civil War between the years 1861 and 1865.
 
Art
Mato Toth/Naive Podravina Valuables
 
Sport
Hammer- throw does not depend on power only
Libor Charfreitag, a hammer-throw champion of Europe, feels that he could go even further and manage much more. He would like to break his own record of 81.81 metres this year.  

 

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