January 2011Virtual politicians can be defeated only by the truth
The biggest enemy is virtual economy
Desananderization of South- East Europe
Who and what makes judge’s performance more complicated?
No internet and independent budget
Will they cancel the Judicial Academy?
do you need help from Slovakia?
The Power of Ideas
The Decline and Fall of the American Empire (Part II)
Puppets of West and the USA
Brussels has no national oncology plans
Slovaks overseas (Part I)
Inner Life of Glass by Achilleas Sdoukos, a young designer
The Firm FC Barcelona
Virtual politicians can be defeated only by the truth
Hypocrisy, alibis, insincerity, cunningness, unfairness, disrespect to the truth and value... Therefore, this is the way that we could briefly define current mental and personal “features” of majority of west- European top politicians and constitutional authorities. Many of them have not been seen as real and thinking politicians but more than speculative managers and puppets of influential international corporations and lobbying groups. More memorized non- senses and phrases they say, better they use their mimics of face, eyes and eyebrows or innocent faces and smiles, more they appear dull, silly and naturally, more successful, trustworthy and demanded they are. This is the simple vision of a modern politician by western political marketing. Like American, its marketing stopped being inspired by truth, esteem and love to people and nations. They apply lies and “smartness”, misuse trust and naivety of people. It is the same as in show business. Politicians are inspired by costs, profits and return on their invested finances from “an actor or actress” who will later play their roles within executive and legislative powers.
A long time ago, a real quality of a politician was evaluated according to his professionalism, honesty and personal skills while carrying out real politics and real agenda in practice. It means for citizens and nation who pay him and the state in which he lives and which he represents. Nowadays, such politicians are offensively called populists…
As there is virtual economy and communication, there is also virtual politics and virtual politicians. Europe did not manage to protect this area either. Over the past 20 years, it welcomed it not only with open arms but also without any thinking or critics. Like all others, mainly globalization, NATO, the European integration, forced reforms and so- called adoption to developed world. For 20 years, people in Central Europe within their naïve idea have been catching up with their idol- West; however, they cannot and do not mange to do so. They are willing not to praise God but just listen to what the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and various institutions through virtual politicians tell them to do. They are able to survive further reforms and consequently reforms of reforms that are lined by virtual politicians being supported by various mottos. However, they forget about a fact that they are both de facto and de jure under permanent control. West has no interest in economic and cultural renaissance of Central Europe. They are not aware of the fact that West just wanted to change Central Europe into its colony and controlled market thanks to which West could survive and make profit. The European Financial Stability Facility and other non-senses would have appeared sooner if the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance had not disintegrated. Berlin, London, Paris and Rome did not want powerful and confident Czechs, Hungarians, Poles, Slovaks, Slovenians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Croatians and Serbs but only obedient and subordinated nations. As West has never apologized Central Europe for the World War II, it will never confess and admit any mistakes and misfortunes they caused to Central Europeans. Well, let us compare how those nations are miserably independent within agriculture and development of domestic production, production, investments, science, education, culture, health care or sports. When did they lose their self-sufficiency and abilities? When did they subordinate to West and its economic territories. Let us finally face the truth and view closer what is hidden beneath so- called pro- export and open economy, what a dependence it is! How is it possible that the value of work for the same performance in Central Europe is a few times lower than in West Europe? Let us look into what is really hidden under the European supportive and structural funds that are managed by chosen groups of clerks and entrepreneurs. On the other hand, let us search for answers to the questions why international and big west firms do not want to cooperate with domestic companies.
Fortunately, we have not forgotten that the truth exists. If we followed it, virtual politicians would have to tell us the truth about, for example, financial and economic crisis. No theories or speculations. Who and what caused it, who and how is responsible for it. However, nowadays, these politicians cannot tell us the truth about corruption that is mostly spread not among citizens and entrepreneurs but in governing circles, corporations, at ministries and regional offices. To be honest, it was created by either poor or rich, banks, governments and
European institutions support the corruption or not. A lot of rumour about publicizing agreements on the Internet is just a ridiculous activity that does not reveal real background of corruption. Just the winner. It is not fair if responsibility for corruption is unfairly connected just with judiciary and prosecution. Why just them? Who points at them most? Politicians and ministers…
However, isn’t it also corruption when virtual politicians, alias ministers of economy and finances using tax benefits and subsidies to attract investors at the expense of domestic investors and entrepreneurs? Alternatively, do they offer them the government bonds for very good interest rates that are being paid by all taxpayers? Is it not interesting that as state employees, for example, does not establish new state firms and do not support domestic production? They would rather restructuralize, make people redundant, and increase taxes. Alternatively, is it fair and honest to subsidize only the farms that have at least 100 cows, and on the other hand eliminate small creameries and cheese makers, small producers of food and meat products?
What is the most ridiculous about the behaviour of virtual politicians are phrases they use and behind which they are trying to hide their professional incapability and inability to tell people the truth. In case of a few Slovak politicians, there is also the fact that they break promises that have made. They change their opinions daily and do not have any concept of their virtual policy. Nevertheless, they pretend they understand all the problems and are able to solve them. At the time of press conferences, they know very well how to lie or not to tell the truth. Their tasks are not to tell the truth but tell lies. Otherwise, they would have to leave the theatre called politics. They lie on purpose; they are poor people who have to serve virtual politics, virtual values and virtual citizens.
Róbert Matejovič, an editor in chief of Dimenzie Magazine
The biggest enemy is virtual economy
“The central government and regional government accept the chamber according to the political line. If it is less critical to the government and parliament, is acceptable. If it criticizes the decisions made by the government and the parliament, bad law enforcement, we are unacceptable,” claims Vladimír Chlebo, a professional manager and a godfather of the Regional Chamber SOPK Košice, the oldest chamber of commerce in Slovakia.
Photo: the author
He has been active in the Chamber of Commerce movement for over 30 years. He used to be a member of the presidium of the Czechoslovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ČSOPK) that was managed by the federal Ministry of Foreign Trade. In 1991, he operated in the preparation committee (lead by P. Mihók, a former chairman of SOPK) that renewed the activities of the Chamber of Commerce Košice (First under ČSOPK), later he established the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SOPK), a statutory institution to support entrepreneurial activities. Since March 1991, he has been a chairperson of the presidency of the Regional Chamber Košice, a member of the presidency of SOPK and arbitrary court of SOPK.
Mr Chlebo, the Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry Košice is the oldest chamber of commerce in Slovakia. It was established on 14 November 1850 as the Chamber of Commerce and Sole Traders Košice. At that time, Košice was a significant town of the Austro- Hungarian Empire and had influential and well- organized German and Hungarian group of factory owners, merchants, craftsmen and solicitors. In November 2010, we celebrated 160th anniversary of its establishment. SOPK is its follower, however, how is it connected to the original chamber?
Economic and entrepreneurial life in Eastern Slovakia. At that time, after the defeat of the Hungarian (and Slovak) revolution in 1849 and after cancelling the customs borders between Austria and Hungarian Kingdom, Košice and East Slovakia again became the part of the Austrian market. During the tough atmosphere of Bach’s absolutism, it was necessary to overcome economic stagnation. In addition, the situation was rather similar to that after the year 1989, when the principles of market economy were being implemented, private ownership and entrepreneurship was being renewed and were preparing for integration of the Slovak market with the market of the European Union.
Temporary Act no. 122 of Empire Collection from 18 April 1850 made a decision on establishing 60 chambers in the Habsburg monarchy, 17 of them in its Hungarian part. However, only two of them were based in Slovakia- in Košice and Bratislava. The Chamber of Commerce and Sole Traders Košice belonged to most significant chambers in the Austrian monarchy, from the territorial point of view, it covered eight counties (in the Carpathian Ruthenia and two in Transylvania in Romania) with 56 districts with 1.5 million inhabitants with a great, but used insufficiently, economic base. Within international partnerships, our current chamber focuses on natural territory and cross-border regions that are now located in the north –east of Hungary, in the west of Ukraine and west of Romania. These regions as well as East Slovakia have faced the same problems for 160 years- insufficiently used and developed economic and commercial potential. It is still an actual challenge that was solved not by the monarchy and Czechoslovakia but also by Slovakia and the European Union.
The original chamber in Košice fought against flooding Austro- Hungarian market by foreign industrial products of a very poor quality. Thus, it put pressure on the authorities of the monarchy to pass new protection regulations. It all resulting in establishing an Association for protection of the Hungarian industry that fought against import of low- quality products by advertising domestic products and organizing various economic exhibitions. Does your chamber pursue protective regulations within the EU against cheap and down-market import from China and the third world?
The main task of the current chamber is not to pursue precautions, however, to develop international trading exchange of goods. Of course, it is necessary to develop sustainable pressure on the authorities in order to improve conditions for entrepreneurs and lowering costs for production and creating conditions for competitiveness of Slovak companies, Slovak products and services. Wide choice of goods, support of innovations, quality improvement- these are the factors that have a positive influence and operate as stimuli in terms of Slovak entrepreneurs in competition with foreign countries. Low- quality imported goods disqualifies itself in competition with better- quality and affordable domestic goods.
In 1857, the Košice Chamber organized an outstanding exhibition of Hungarian industrial products in honour of Caesar Francis Joseph´s visit in Košice. It significantly helped producers in Košice to export their good to the foreign markets. Košice became famous, for example by beer Bockbier from the production of Bauernebl´s brewery or a liqueur from Adler and Gold liqueur production that became a European speciality, (the owners were given the title of an Austro- Hungarian Caesar and royal supplier and Royal supplier for the Serbian royal courtyard).
Wooden floor with floral patterns from Dunkel´s factory and Eisler´s chair from curved wood became famous worldwide… How does your chamber support the development of domestic production and its export?
SOPK at the level of the centre signed 64 agreements and contracts concerning the cooperation with chambers all over the world. The Regional Chamber Košice intensively cooperates with chamber predominately in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Austria, Germany, Holland, Italy and Ukraine, and recently with China as well. Mostly entrepreneurs for promotion of their products and services abroad use these contacts, participation in trade missions and exhibitions. Recently, some common projects within cross-border cooperation in the programme of INTEREG have just been started.
The main aim of all these activities is to support domestic companies in establishing themselves in the foreign markers. However, we lack help of the state, state representation of Slovakia and Slovak companies. Although we regularly take part in foreign travels and promotions in economic for a that are usually organized during foreign travels of the president of the Slovak republic, nevertheless, it is not enough tough. These institutions have existed in developed countries for a long time, as for example are Germany, Austria, Sweden and many others. We also established such a fund, but due to lack of legislative and methods of its use, it was finally cancelled.
The Chamber in Košice organized successful vinery, industrial and economic exhibitions after the World War I and during the existence of the first Czechoslovak Republic. Why aren’t you successful in continuing in this tradition? Can the chamber initiate the construction of a modern exhibition and congress centre that would finally give Košice its location in the Central European map of congress and exhibition tourism?
The chamber is always supposed to initiate and support activities leading to successful development of entrepreneurship in the region. We also showed an attempt when preparing and carrying out exhibition activities in Košice. Lack of interests of the companies, citizens and no conception of central bodies when preparing and carrying out infrastructure investments caused that these activities rapidly slowed down. Their revival is one of main activities performed by our chamber.
The most significant action of your predecessor was its participation in creating and development of the Secondary Technical School of Mechanical Engineering in Košice in 1872. Moreover, it has been opened since then, thus it became the oldest secondary technical school in Central Europe (the first in the Austro- Hungarian monarchy). How does the current chamber contribute to technical specialized training of your people? Do you continue supporting this school?
On 23 April 2009, the Slovak Parliament passed the Act no. 184 on specialized education and training for the profession that orders SOPK to participate in implementation of this law in practice. The chamber, regardless this law, performed activities leading to improvement of qualifications and preparation of workers by forms of training and courses. Our representatives also take part in final examination at Secondary Vocational School and give certificates to its graduates. However, what a pity that this law is not implemented at its full extend because there are no financial and material conditions created in the self- administration, civil administration or in the chamber.
Slovakia is ruled by the right-winged coalition again. Before the parliamentary election, its leaders promised significant improvement and revival of the entrepreneurial environment. International concerns, domestic medium and small entrepreneurs and self- employed people, however, have not felt anything so far, but new increase in prices, costs, deductions and value added tax. How do you evaluate this kind of “revival” of the entrepreneurial environment?
In my opinion, recently passed precautions, law and prepared reforms have not brought anything positive. It has not been started with the implementation of the programme for law enforcement, nor changed operatives and neither was simplified use of the EU funds. Hearing opinions of entrepreneurs that it is necessary to improve the level of English knowledge and scientific training of workers for practice is the positives points. I agree with the intension to eliminate the level of corruption in the state orders, however, electronic auctions will probably not solve the problem. Changes in the tax system called as temporary are not a conception but just a solution having been found for the time being. The state pays no attention to administration difficulties, needless bureaucratic and overcrowded state and self- administration. Only a little time has passed by so we just cannot evaluate these measures and it is possible that after constrictive critic by SOPK, the government will approach to the solution of these problems in a conceptual way.
Is the chamber successful in solving the requirement of entrepreneurs for better entrepreneurial environment?
The main task of the chamber in this field is to determine acceptation of its opinions by the government. Concerning the core issue regarding free entrepreneurship, gender equality, the principle of non- discrimination, the integration of Slovakia in the European Union and eurozone, improvement of entrepreneurial environment through approximation of legislative of the EU, w have been successful in pursuing obliged interests of entrepreneurs in a dialogue with our government. However, many issues and question have remained unsolved without having been given any answer. In addition, it is our task to solve them. We have a highly- qualified team led by Ing. Ľ. Korotnoky to deal with above mentioned matters.
What are deduction and tax changes SOPK proposes? Allegedly, they became the part of the agenda of the government…
The agenda of our government involves a few of our requirements; however, we are not supporters of so- called tax- bonus. In the time of global economy, which we are involved in, the mutual interaction of economies is necessary at least within the European Union. It requires total financial discipline and unified system of methodologies in preparation of the national budgets. In Slovakia, it also means to simplify the system of tax collection and deductions what could influence better control and discipline.
Although the Slovak Constitution states that “ the economy of the Slovak Republic is based on the principles of socially and ecologically orientated market economy, there has not been a single state enterprise established in Slovakia over the past 20 years. Should state enterprise help mainly in those regions where the private sector is unable to provide enough job opportunities? How do would you explain that? In Great Britain or in France state companies are a stable part of the market economy…
The agenda of the government involves government’s task to solve the issue of unemployment and increase the employment rate mainly in the less developed regions. The phenomenon of a high unemployment rate is too serious. It has not only social consequences but also in its essence, they are the beginning of the future economic problems of the state, which cause decrease in life quality standards for all of us. Announced theories concerning competition in the labour market has not been proved over the past twenty years... In is the other way round, we feel lack of qualified work force, growth of unqualified masses of unemployed people and socially inadaptable citizens. We should really learn from experience of developed states in this field.
What is the position of SOPK in the regions in Slovakia?
Well, it is different in each region. It is a result of regional disparity rooted in the history and mainly thoughtless and non- conceptual economic policy over the past 20 years. This policy caused that important economic activities concentrated predominantly in the west of Slovakia. In our Košice region it has negatively reflected in not solving road infrastructure (mainly the construction of the motorway Košice- Bratislava), which had negative influence on foreign investments. In spite of negative consequences, we manage to cooperate with the Košice Self- Governing Region and thanks to its chairperson JUDr. Z. Trebuľa.
These factors highly limit activities and position of our chamber. Despite that, we take part in all activities that help entrepreneurs. We mostly provide consultancy services concerning projects for using the funds of the EU, specialized preparation by forms of further education, organized domestic and foreign missions, presentations and issuing certificates and ATA carnets.
Economic crisis has not finished in Slovakia yet. Domestic production does not increase, the development of the country stagnates, agricultural and food productions are slowed down, public investments have almost stopped, the growth of GDP decreases… How does the chamber want to motivate its members not to be fed up and pay taxes to the state?
At the time, when the crisis continues, it is important to search for new forms and methods of work of the entire SOPK and its regional structures. Innovation firms are not the only important ones, but also the firms that have been operating in the market for a long time and due to the crisis; they got into problems with demands and appeared in stagnation. We help those firms and support their exact marketing and project activities and we do not only deal with virtual activities.
You claim that SOPK should be very influential on the formation of entrepreneurial environment across Slovakia. Why isn’t it so? Isn’t it a strong and independent partner for the government and the parliament?
The chamber has its social influence, as it is the only and the biggest institution, in which all types of entrepreneurs are presented including the biggest firms, banks and financial institutions. The problem is that the central government and regional governments accept the chamber according to its political line. If it is less critical to the government and parliament, is acceptable. If it criticizes the decisions made by the government and the parliament, bad law enforcement, we are unacceptable. We are always criticizing lack of infrastructural projects for construction of motorways, modernization of railways and airports. In the past, we criticized rushing, uncoordinated and non- conceptual establishment of many industrial parks that are used for their original purposes. Their establishment had no conception and analytical preparation they lacked funds and workers. We must be aware of the fact that the chamber is for both members and non- members of SOPK and it has to pursue its interests even though they are not in accordance with the state policy. The chamber is financed only from the membership fee of its members and from its activities. The state does not finance it so has no right to influence its activities.
The membership in your chamber is not always obligatory, compared to the first chamber in Košice. Isn’t it the reason why SOPK cannot intervene the legislative and entrepreneurial environments more efficiently in Slovakia? Do you require approval of the mandatory membership?
The membership in the chamber is voluntary. In my opinion, it is not very good. In neighbouring developed states (for example Germany and Austria), membership in the Chamber is mandatory for everyone who wants to run business. It is mostly about binding an entrepreneur to ethics and politeness and so that other members of the chamber could control entrepreneur’s behaviour. We also had mandatory membership, however, in my opinion, due to political reasons; this privilege of the chamber was cancelled. It is ridiculous as in some other chamber the membership is mandatory as for example in the Slovak Bar Association, the Slovak Chamber of Auditors or Doctors.
How does the Chamber perceive the membership of Slovakia in the Eurozone from the point of view of the financial issues that hit Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain (so-called PIGS)?
The integration of Slovakia in the eurozone was one of the main requirements of SOPK addressed to governments that prepared it and were responsible for it. We positively supported these steps and explained to the public as well. We were aware of positive influence on all companies and entrepreneurs in import and export. It is true that breaking of financial discipline of a few European governments, a significant increase of speculating trades of various financial subjects at world stock exchange, uncontrolled subvention of American dollar and continuing world economic crisis created a particular degree of distrust against euro and eurozone among entrepreneurs. However, I am convinced that the idea and carrying out of a unitary currency in the EU is the base for its future. Nevertheless, we have to add a wide range of agreements among the members of the EU resulting in sustainable development and stability.
What is your personal opinion on the development of present society?
The present state of the society is a mirror of dynamic changes not only in political and social life but also mostly from the economic point of view. Majority of population from the point of view of so-called better future often perceives these changes. However, it may not necessarily happen. The system analysis show us that problems of present world are so strong and unique that it seems rather complicated to define them in more precise and complex way and it is even harder to try to find appropriate and acceptable solutions. If there are known various theories of economic development of human society from Marx and Engels up to monetary theory by Milton Friedman, it is extremely difficult to apply them without any doubts about their correctness or development of society did not show any mistakes. In my opinion, the most dangerous enemy of real economy and thus all entrepreneurs is virtual economy that is the reason for globalization of the economic crisis. Unfortunately, we still do not want to be aware of its consequences. Let me allow stating an axiom that current worldwide economic crisis is a crisis of systems of both economic and political ones; it is a crisis of social and moral relationship towards the future of the mankind and towards permanently sustainable life on our planet. We all must care for overall social consensus of morality and ethics in all activities of human beings, not excluding trade, entrepreneurship and politics.
Who is Ing. Vladimír Chlebo, CSc.
He was born in Levoča (on July 4, 1950). He is a graduate from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University in Košice (TUKE) where he also presented his dissertation work. He attend a post- graduate studies at the Faculty of Mining at the Technical University and at the Faculty of Law at the University of P.J.Šafárik in Košice. He holds a certificate Efficient Manager from CUB- Open University. Between the years 1974 and 1991, he worked for the Rudný Projekt Košice where he finally became the CEO and the chairperson of the board of directors. He was a CEO of the VSŽ Servis and a director of trading strategy in the company VSŽ Košice a.s. (1991- 1995), a trading director of the company Chirana Export- Import a.s. (1995- 1998) and a trading director of Slovenské lodenice Komárno (1998- 2000). He was also a member of the supervisory board of the Fund of National Possession of the SR. He was a member of the International Chamber of Commerce based in Paris and a member of the European parliament of enterprises. Since 2000, he has been a CEO of the company OTMS Košice. He is married and has three children. He speaks English and Russian.
Desananderization of South- East Europe
Ivo Sanader, a former Croatian prime minister, is now waiting in the Austrian prison for his extradition. It is not possible that he did not know anything about organized thefts via a personal network of checked friends, mistresses and players.
Who and what makes judge’s performance more complicated?
An independent judge can be only the one who know legal measures and legally binding jurisdiction that is explained and applied quickly and fairly.
JUDr. Dana Bystrianská, a president of the Association of the Judges of Slovakia.
Photo: the archive of Dimenzie
There are still many problems in Slovak Justice. The most serious is the issue of overloaded courts and judges and unbelievably high rate of judging. It puts a great pressure on performance of judiciary and judges. Many inadequacies that exist, however, they are not a mistake of the system but mistaken interpretation of their proprietors.
No internet and independent budget
In Slovakia there are almost 1,400 judges working in eight regional and 53 district courts. The issue is whether there are enough judges. If so, then only assuming further creation of high- quality administration and specialized apparatus. Material, technical, and personal equipment of judges as well as administration apparatus that operates at courts in the form of so-called court departments that are mostly insufficient. Work conditions at small courts are different from those at big courts. Big district courts call for specialization due to changes of legal regulations and implementation of the EU law. IT technologies, which they use at court, are, however, old- fashioned, overworked and non- functional. In addition, it is the same at higher courts and at the Supreme Court of the SR. Judges have no Internet available and can deal only with information that they find on the intranet of courts and thus make decisions.
Judges need peace and quiet for work as well as good personal and material conditions. Then they can be evaluated, controlled and responsible. Improvement of working conditions, better personal and material equipment of courts is demanding in terms of the budget. A long-termed goal is an independent budgetary chapter for judiciary, which will be separated from the ministry of justice.
Reason of inconsecutiveness of legal proceeding
The work of courts is a highly intellectual activity and cannot be evaluated by someone who is not a specialist. Surely, everyone can express his or her trust or distrust also against judicial power. I dare to claim that public has hardly any idea about how it all works. Experience of participants of a legal action might be individually better or worse, and they can be a demonstration of a long- term overwork and tiredness of some colleagues.
The legal proceeding is very formal. As it attempts to assure all civil rights, it always imposes courts through legislative adjustments more and more duties that make fast performance of justice more complicated. For example, hardly anyone knows that impossibility to deliver court mails is a serious reason of inconsecutiveness of legal proceeding considering the fact that written documents are delivered by post and mostly to a particular person. Migration of citizens and non- existence of registration obligation of citizens cause a lot of problems when delivering court mails in a few cases it takes a few years. We pay for free movement of people and work force and not only within the European Union in the way.
Education and specialization
Nowadays, directives and regulations of the EU overrule and mean higher rate of free judgement for judges. Thus I emphasise need to educate and train judges and their specialization. However, it requires time. Experience in agenda of family law at courts of appeal show that specialization is the only way that in complicated Slovak conditions leads to quickening judicial proceeding. Moreover, it is necessary to implement and enlarge specialization in many other areas.
Education and training of judges is assured by the Judicial Academy whose work has significantly improves compared to the past when judges´ trainings were assured by individual courts.
Approach of judges towards education and training, which is their duty when performing their post, is advantage. The institute of education established by the Ministry of Justice of the SR in Omšenie is limited in its capacities and was not enough in the past. Our Association contributes to creation of Judicial Academy; we highly evaluate its educational activities. There are vital for further life of justice and finally for citizens as well as only a judge knowing legal regulations, mandatory judiciary which is explicated and applied quickly and fairly.
Will they cancel the Judicial Academy?
The amendment of the Act no. 385/ 200 Coll. cancels the post of a judicial trainee and interferes unsystematically organization of education of judges at the beginning of their carer as well as when improving their qualifications. The Act no. 548/ 2003 Coll., since January 1, 2004, establishes Judicial Academy that guaranteed unified, conceptual, systematic and complex education and training of judges, prosecutors, judicial trainees and prosecution trainees as well as higher judicial clerks. This organization assured that pedagogues and experienced judges and prosecutors trained young judges, prosecutors, trainees and higher judicial clerks. Education was carried out based on annual studying plans approved by the Council of Academy (consisting of five judges elected by the Judiciary Council and five members appointed by t he minister, out of them, two were proposed by the General Prosecutor) and according to Recommendation CM/ Rec (2010)12 that was formulated by the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE in Opinion no. 4).
An amendment of the law, training of judges give to hands of unidentified domestic and foreign educational and training institutions and thus exclusivity of the Academy disappears in this field. This is the way in which education and training of judges gets away from the control of judicial power and state, which is, overall, obliged to assure education and training of judges. A judge can become a good judge only after a particular time, as this post requires not only professional knowledge but also human maturity. The age limit for judges is 30 years. Education of those who come from practice also takes a particular time, which we cannot underestimate. In addition, it is not possible to expect them to perform in brilliant way.
Maintain an institute of a judicial trainee
The institute of a higher judicial clerk means for the judge simplification and quickening of works at Slovak courts when as establishment of a judicial department, choice of its members as well as assessment are not in judge’s competences. In our opinion, it is necessary to maintain not only the institute of a judicial trainee but also allow them choosing the best out of higher judicial clerks in their career growth and rewarding.
The post of a judge is a kind of mission. It means life-long education and training, particular modesty not only in public but also in private life, it means transparency and inform public about judges. I would like to remind that legal proceedings are public that judges publicize their possessions and income, publicize legal resolutions, and are responsible in case of finding our personal failures in work organization expressed in disciplinary action and causing prolongation in proceedings. This influences a judge more than it influences other representatives of public life, MPs, members of the government and others do. We are not open enough to the public, are we?
Unfortunately, not only media but also judges themselves create the image that moves shadows and make their work less respectable. We should not let it be like this. In my opinion, mutual respect and esteem also belong to the legal culture of public life and to our profession and position. We do not deny any opinions. However, the form how an opinion is presented is a demonstration of maturity.
The Association of Judges of Slovakia submits Lucia Žitňanská, a Minister of Justice, other proposals of regulations to correct mistakes in the field of justice. I believe that the colleagues who, with their opinions, contribute to the fact that judicial power has been criticized so much in public will not surround Mrs Minister.
What working post would you give to our present Slovak politicians of the governmental coalition? In your opinion, are they able and willing to work?
From Hungarian to Slovak Language
In Sátoraljaújhély, teachers and Slovak minority administration fought with the town for maintaining teaching of Slovak language in the town. At L. Kossuth´s Secondary Grammar School students, who want to work in tourism, learn Slovak language. In Holloháza and Fizér, students study Slovak hoping to get a job in the industrial park of Kechnec.
Photo: the author
The state-wide Slovak self- administration in Hungary is an establisher of three elementary school where Slovak language is still being taught. Apart from Bekes Caba and Sarvas, it is also in Sátoraljaújhely in the Tokay region in the north-east of Hungary in Borsody- Abov- Zemplín regions. Kossuth Lajos, the most famous personality of this town, grew up and studied in this former centre of historical Zemplin Region in the Hungarian Kingdom. He was a Hungarian lawyer and politician of the Slovak origin, later the leader of the unsuccessful Hungarian national revolution between the years 1848- 1849, where he fought for the revival of independence of the Hungarian Kingdom from Austria. In 1920, the Trianon Treaty divided the town into a bigger Hungarian and smaller Slovak part with a railway station. The Slovak part was named Slovenské Nové Mesto.
Sátoraljalújhely has a population of approximately 18,000 inhabitants out of which only 1.2% is of Slovak nationality. The original Slovak school situated in the town centre was still opened in September 1950; it was a Comprehensive School with Slovak teaching language for ages. Since 1980s, it has been situated near the border crossing for pedestrians. The school survived its long-term struggle for existence as bilingual school. Its current official name is “the Hungarian- Slovak Bilingual National School and Boarding House.” At present it has 138 students of Slovak, Romany and Hungarian origin who come from the town and surrounding twenty villages. Julia Kucziková is its long- term principal, she was born in Kráľovský Chlmec, and after graduating university in Prešov (the Faculty of Education at Pavol Jozef Šafarik´s University) she got married and moved to Sátoraljaújhély.
Mrs Kucziková, how many of your students have Slovak roots? Is their mother tongue Hungarian, or do their parents speak Slovak to them?
Hard to say how many of them have Slovak roots. The condition of enrolment of students to our school is the parents´ declaration that they agree their child will take part in national teaching process. Its course, teaching methods, number of lessons as well as requirement for students is set up in the pedagogical agenda of the school.
I have to say that children come to our school without any knowledge of Slovak language. Those, who attended national group in the local kindergarten, know basic vocabulary, sing nursery rhymes and recite short poems. Their parents do not speak English any more and their grandparents, if they are alive, speak Slovak only to each other.
Do some children commute to your school from Slovakia?
Rarely. This school year, we have one pupil from Slovenské Nové Mesto whose mother used to be a temporary teacher at our school and knows the methods we use and trusts them. Local secondary schools accept students from Slovakia. That is why we have a few secondary students in our boarding house from Slovakia.
Is there a Slovak kindergarten in the town?
The situation here is similar to that in Sarvas and Békes Csaba as there was supposed to be established their own Slovak kindergarten. The mayor of the town, and the town council that own our school does not want to leave us premises for this purpose because they are worried about forming an elite non- Romany group. There are 20- 25 children in the Slovak national group every year. Out of them, two or three enrol to our primary school; the rest of them go to the Hungarian elementary school.
What kind of methodology of Slovak language teaching do you pursue and apply? Do you teach Slovak as a foreign language?
Over the past years, a need to elaborate new methodology of teaching Slovak language as a foreign language has risen. Methods assuming particular knowledge of language what might have made sense in case of Slovak minority does not work in our schools any more. However, there are not so many of us so we ask specialist from Slovakia for help (Comenius University and Matej Bell´s University). The Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic subsidizes special courses. Nevertheless, they are not organized in Banská Bystrica or Modra but in Hungary as thus they are more efficient because more teachers can take part. In summer we travel to Slovakia to participate in summer courses for teacher and students. We try to use organized schools in the country and skiing trips to the greatest extent. Our syllabi pay great attention to teaching so-called national science, i.e. Slovak education as we sometimes call this subject. We also attempt to revive them through national singing choruses that preserve Zemplin folk songs in their repertoire and on the stage they present old customs and traditions (Christening, Christmas Eve, Wedding)- well, basically, their childhood. We have a children’s folk group “Zemplínčatá”, a cithara and a theatre group. What a pity that everything falls apart when our children leave to secondary schools.
How many subjects are taught in Slovak language?
We have five lessons of Slovak language a week. If we have a colleague who can speak Slovak, his or her subject is taught in Slovak. However, I cannot say that the whole lesson is in Slovak. The age and language maturity do not allow us to do so. In written and spoken forms, we introduce scientific terminology, teacher’s orders are in Slovak too but explanation is in Hungarian.
Is teaching Slovak language still the main goal of your school?
Of course! Teachers and Slovak minority administration fought against the town to maintain teaching of Slovak language in our town. Our region has its historical sense. Slovak language has been known here since the 18th century and many crafts and villages are connected with it in Zemplín- wireworkers, glassmaker and woodcutters. The only option to protect it is schools. Being close to Slovakia- it is the main advantage of our region. We have good relationships and contacts with Michalovce, and Moldava nad Bodvou. Regularly, we take trips to Slovakia; get to know museums, cultural institutions as well as many skiing resorts in East Slovakia.
What is the vision of further development of your school? What should it focus on?
It is a difficult question as a man needs enough money to carry out some ideas. More plans you have more money you need. When I remember that I saw the interactive board for the first time in my life in our partner school in England in 2005 and at present there are five of them at our school and the colleagues love using them to benefit our students, I consider myself an optimist. I am opened to new teaching methods just in the field of informational and communicational means. Surely, we also have to develop our rich partnerships within the European educational programmes. Teaching foreign languages is our priority.
Strength of our school is its family atmosphere being provided by positive approach of our employees. We have to choose our followers and colleagues who speak Slovak. They are retiring. A larger number of them went five years ago and another group is expected in a few years´ times. The school needs a particular reconstruction.
Do you need help from Slovakia?
Surely, digital teaching aids would do- textbooks that teachers could download from the Internet and interactive tasks to make lessons more interesting.
Are your students interested in studying at secondary schools in Slovakia?
From geographical point of view, it should not be a problem to study in Slovakia. There used to be recruitments from Slovak secondary schools at our schools. Our pupils do not apply because there is a wide choice of high- quality schools in the town and in nearby Sárospatak. Moreover, after parents judge financial opportunities of each family in this economically slowed region with a high unemployment rate, they rather decide for schools situated nearby.
Is there a secondary school where Slovak language is taught?
Yes. L. Kossuth´s Secondary School that specialized on tourism. Students are divided in groups with a target language either Slovak or German and deal with jobs they will potentially use in our region. The north Hungarian region sees its future in tourism.
Are there Slovak masses served in the local churches?
No. The only traditional Slovak- Hungarian masses are in Mikóhaza, where a priest from Slovakia comes for Cyril- Methodius celebrations. However, in Banačka, local women regularly organize Mary Virgin’s gatherings of chorus in September every year which are also visited by Slovaks.
How do you see the future of Slovak minority in the town and its surroundings?
It depends on us how we manage to preserve Slovak language and we will have to keep Slovak mentality of our pupils. If we preserve a few ambitious pupils who will late become minority MPs and will continue in our work, it sounds encouraging. If the economic situation in Slovakia also opens its job market for unemployed people from Hungary, then the vision about finding a job will motivate people to start studying Slovak language again. Well, they used to learn it some time. For example, its is like that in Hollóháza and Fizér where people brush out their knowledge of Slovak at the courses of Slovak language hoping that they will use their knowledge and find a job in a nearby industrial park of Kechnec near Košice.
Much depends on politics and neighbouring atmosphere being spread around. We would like to believe that Slovak language and our Zemplin songs will not disappear. Our school also deals with publishing. We have a student’s magazine, a memorial book, cassettes and CDs, programs recorded on DVDs and register in the school library for better information and needs of new students.
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