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June/July 2011

Slovakia nourished by taxes and the EU
Can Slovaks stop liberal utopia?
Wanderings across Croatia
Moravian uniqueness and delicatessen
Alois Wessels´s Descendants
Who invented “tvarůžky”?
The Slovenian Jewel of Olimia
Wellness and entertainment are domains
New Medical Wellness
Olimja and its treasures
Will the second attempt of Minister Žitanská be successful?
Eurozone pointers to a new global monetary system
At 8-point strategy to revitalize the EU
Famous tradition must be experienced
Velehrad renews its magnificence
Why did Jews not accept Christ (Part II)?
Slovak Leonardo da Vinci
Goals of the Serbian Honorary Consulate
New challenge for local televisions
The base of tolerance is culture
Acting cannot be taught
Roofs of Hilandar as seen by Ivan Zdravkovič
The Himalayas are Divine

Slovakia nourished by taxes and the EU
Current income of the Slovak national budget is based on two basic sources- taxes (8.7 billion Euros) and the budget of the EU (3.3billion Euros). Twelve billion Euros out of planned income of 13.1 billion Euros is supposed to be cumulated in the year 2011. However, Slovakia has no other significant income items as the income from privatization and from sales of state properties, which were the scope of interest of international capital and struggle for power in Slovakia, are the part of bitter history of Slovakia. From the citizens´ point of view, we can simply declare that the Slovak republic is “nourished” just by taxes and subsidies from the European Union. It is a really miserable and humiliating result of a twenty- year-old history of our attempts to catch up with so-called developed West Europe which, meanwhile, began to fall in debts and is facing economic collapse.
When we have a closer look at the structure of the income tax, we will find out that income taxes paid by legal entities (1.6 billion Euros planned) and natural persons (100 million Euros) are not the most important income although entrepreneurial conditions, taxation and deductions (for example investment stimuli, tax holidays, incentives, equal tax) have always been improved politically and legislatively. The most important is the value added tax (VAT- 4.6 billion Euro) and the excise tax (2 billion Euros). We all, businesspeople and citizens, pay well- known VAT for all goods and services as well as the excise duty (for petrol, oil, spirits, cigarettes), however, there is a big difference that citizens who do not run their own business cannot include these payments in their expenditures (costs), which is surely not fair. Nevertheless, it would be rather interesting to observe what would happen in Slovakia if VAT, which is the biggest source of tax evasion, was cancelled or just reduced or changed just for some items as for example food, drugs, books and textbooks, accommodation… The member states of the EU have the highest VAT just for fuel (petrol and oil, 20-23%); other items have rather lower tariffs. For example, in Poland or Estonia, you will pay 8% VAT for accommodation, 7% for food.
On the other hand, what kind of state is Slovakia like and what sort of economists and ministers of finances it has had? In our state it is not income tax paid by legal entities and natural persons that plays the essential role in the income part of the national budget and what are reasons of their very low rate but mainly VAT? It is ridiculous that left- winged Róbert Fico does not pursue its significant reduction on chosen items but as a master of propaganda, he proposes its general reduction down to 19 % claiming that it will make life easier not just for farmers but for ordinary people… However, what is the truth really like? So far, none of Slovak economists, politicians and civil servants have ever submitted relevant numbers concerning possible “loss” in the national budget when collecting lower or cancelled VAT. Or why is income tax of legal entities so low with ridiculously low salaries, high deductions and high living costs? Surprisingly, they do not want to talk about these issues directly and in public and not even among one another, or to citizens and voters. But isn’t it the task of the state and government to help citizens, i.e. their breadwinners?
The national budget of Slovakia has planned a deficit at the level of almost 4 billion Euros. It means that costs of the state are higher than income. The cost part of the budget shows that the whole budget – 16.9 billion Euros is planned to be spent on 32 state and public institutions out of which 14 are ministries. The crucial part of the budget “ is consumed” by the General Treasury Administration led by the Ministry of Finances (3.6 billion Euros), the Ministry of Education (2.3 billion Euros), the Ministry of Labour (2 billion Euros), the Ministry of Transport (1.89 billion Euros), the Ministry of Health Care (1.4 billion) and the Ministry of Agriculture (1.3 billion Euros). They will “ swallow” 70% of the total costs while the budget of the Ministries of Transport and Agriculture include almost 50% of all income from the budget of the EU (1.5 billion out of 3.3 billion). The rest is shared by 6 ministries (of Finances, Economy, Health Care, Environment, Labour and Education) while the Ministries of Culture, Interior, Defence and Justice do not have a single cent coming directly from the budget of the EU. How is it possible as we always hear Brussels telling us how important it is to fight criminality and corruption or how NATO criticises Slovakia for insufficient financing of the resort of defence and not meeting our commitments to the North Atlantic Alliance?
Regarding the costs of the national budget, it is interesting that almost 1.5 billion Euros (9%) are selected for wages, salaries and business expenses of employees and clerks (the Army approximately 130,000 people). It is almost a half billion more that the total subsidies from the national budget to the budgets of the municipalities and regions! Almost the same amount of money as the state gives to municipalities and regions, Slovakia paid within the deduction to the EU (including reserves) for the year 2010 (957 million Euros), which was 65% more than in the year 2009 and it doubled in comparison with the year 2005.
If we look at the performance of individual ministers and ministries during the year 2011, what breathtaking or revolutionizing can for example Ján Fígeľ, the Minister of Transport (KDH) or Zsolt Simon (Most- Híd) be proud of? Or Eugen Jurczyca, the Minister of Education ( SDKÚ- DS)? Have citizens noticed that the construction of motorways and reconstruction of roads started? Or has production and sales of domestic food risen or have the level of primary and secondary schools (costs even decreased), research and development increased? Can the government be proud of more significant use of the EU funds? Or they were just paid mainly for cost savings in their resorts?
It is being proved that a lot of money, also that from the European Union, is being redundantly spent on positions and activities of state employees and clerks who do not help either the state or citizens, otherwise they would have been in media. Although Radičova´s government declared more significant cost savings in resorts and public finances, the example of high and amoral bonuses (the highest at the ministry of finances- 800 thousand Euros) shows something rather different when citizens face new crisis and new belt tightening. It seems that the state and its officials are still doing with citizens what they want. Instead of hearing ministers providing citizens with information how to move forward, what are the alternatives of possible development and revival of economy they can expect, people hear more and more phrases about savings, further decrease in state subsidies, lack of funds for regional and local self- administration… It might be the right time to ask if Slovakia is still a state that knows what it wants and why it exists or it is just a tool for entrepreneurs, but mainly for politicians, lobbyists, clerks and MPs.  
Robert Matejovic, editor-in-chief
Can Slovaks stop liberal utopia?
“Each compromise being accompanied by decline is just an agreement with future decline. Instead of liberalism and compromises I would choose return to pure traditions, purity regardless and martyrdom,” thinks Teodor Križka, an extraordinary Slovak poet, wise man and editor-in-chief of the magazine Kultúra.
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the author, the archive of T. Križka
On the contrary, despite religious and political freedom contemporary Slovakia is now experiencing the worst spiritual crisis since renewal of Slovak statehood and after the integration in the European Union. National and Christian pillars are not given their go not even beneath the Tatras but almost nowhere in Europe. The second paradox is that political parties who declare themselves as Christianity and pursuing national and state interests in practical politics act on the contrary and are not courageous enough to tell the nation and citizens even a simple truth. Meanwhile, a first generation of so- called civic and liberal society has grown up in Slovakia; however, their inner empathy, feelings and conscience are rather suppressed. They are convinced that it is enough to earn good money and live in a democratic society that follows human and civil rights. Nevertheless, what is the main sense of living and surviving? We, Teodor Križka, a poet, and me have thought about this and other topics. Mr Križka celebrated his 55th birthday recently. Congratulations!
Mr Križka, how does a poet of your reputation and format of thinking and conviction perceive this reality? Should we really believe that fact that the 21st century will do without God and Ten Commandments, the Bible and gospels or Christian (national) culture?
We would not have enough space for this interview even if we tried to fully answer just this question. Well, let’s say at least something. Our generation was born in the communistic regime which declared itself as advanced and whatever was not in accordance with a doctrine, was mercilessly compromised or right forbidden or even eliminated. The generation who experience the Slovak State could preserve and pass memories and continuity. It was the first generation after a thousand- year history that was able to think about them, that could breathe integrity of spiritual and national life. They woke up from Andrej Hlinka´s courage, and holy life of Bishop Ján Vojtašák and other Slovak bishops who founds support in Cyril and Methodius heritage, in genius as Ján Hollý, Anton Bernolák, the representatives of Štúr´s group, Moyzes and Kuzmány and their Matica Slovenská (the Slovak National Institute), Radlinský´s Saint Vojtech Association, in the attempts of thousand of Slovaks who had to go and work in America and having been in that melting pot, they definitely realized their national origin. It inevitably resulted in establishing an independent state. And Catholic majority of the nation, university students mainly at Svorad´s College being led by outstanding priest Eugen Filkorn, were thus given their opportunity having been supported by church authorities. Unfortunately, this culminating camber of general revival of Slovaks was being carried out at the times of two criminal ideologies- bolshevism ruling the biggest country in the world after the putsch in 1917 and Nazism as s reaction of German nation to horrible humiliation after the First World War and reaction to red danger that began spreading around the world as a kind of modern, but terrifying cancer destroying mainly west intelligence. No wonder that in the first phase even Soviet citizens, mainly Ukrainians, Baltic nations, perceived German invasion as a form of deliberation. The thing that we called deliberation now, is a victory over Nazism and at our territories, establishment of a fifty- year- long Bolshevik dictatorship. It meant expelling or imprisoning thousands of Slovaks just right from the representatives of this national- state idea and its spiritual supporters. Being endangered by coming Czech liberal nationalism and then communism straight after, Slovak Catholic elite had no other choice than leave their country or end up in uranium mines, doing forced labour or lose their life as it happened to the president of the first Slovak citizenship after a thousand- year -long history. He was guilty only by the fact that he was a priest- hero who did not fail even though he had to sacrifice himself. It was really necessary to execute him and thus in his personality execute all Slovak national and Christian ambitions! Such personalities as Jozef Cíger Hronský, Rudolf Dilong, Karol Strmeň, Mikuláš Šprinc, Jozef Cincík and many others ended up in the exile. Those, more courageous as for example Jozef Strmeň as well as Jozef Tóth experienced a few phases of persecutions, one worse than the other, starting with Hungarian chauvinism up to bolshevism. Unfortunately, even present situation is not so far from the previous eras but no one talks about it they are perceived as cultural phenomenon on the periphery which is not far cry from spiritual execution. Other twenty years had to pass so that a spirit of Slovak nationalism was born in the communistic generation and that they got courage to fight for the freedom of conscience. This revival process was violently interrupted by the invasion of the armies of the Warsaw Treaty. And twenty more years had to pass again so that this frightened nation, which again faced a wave of exile, found their courage to ask for another change. Obviously, who could have had a vague idea that this process, so spontaneous and sincere in the masses, is from its beginning led to the victory of liberal global elites, leading to their possessive covering of medial sphere and the sphere of economic, cultural, political and military areas and not to free national development which we had dreamt about and expected sincerely… And we have been experiencing the rest ourselves as a consequence of weird intrigues of political parties, dependent on foreign powerful structures and not on conscience and responsibility to the nation.
Governing power regardless its left or present right coalitional, Christian and liberal face, often defend its decision claiming that “ responsible politics” is the only alternative to all, even to solutions to the issue in society and state…
Surely, they are able to give reasons for their acts, even in a very pragmatic way as the only possible alternative. However, the result is a large number of unemployed people, 105 thousand educated people leaving Slovakia to work abroad, low birth rate, pushing national culture somewhere to the periphery of the society interest and on the contrary so-called positive discrimination of minorities, indoctrination mainly of young generation with strange values or we can frankly speak about their derogation of our country, nation, etc. Expectedly, in this context, Christianity becomes a target of criticism, especially Catholicism. This process is artificially initiated and massively supported by media because the Church and Christianity is a back bone of the nation and its identity. And you must confess that a child with spina Bifida will never become Janošík. No wonder that Christianity fails politically. Even those who were courageous enough to resist communism do not have this courage in this free democratic state with its own constitution which explicitly refers to Cyril and Methodius heritage, even though they are disincentive. They participate in this artificial spina Bifida, in paralyzing just these reviving powers, calling themselves as well- behaved politicians while the others are bad. Over the twenty years after the fall of communism, a crawling tyranny of liberalism has been established in our state when a per cent minority of people who are sexually different is positively discriminated while the majority is ostracized. It concerns not only homosexuals but mainly Hungarian and gypsy minorities. It is shown that minorities /religious, sexual, cultural including so- called green terror) are Troy horses, a tool of interior decline in the spirit of approved “divide and conquer”. Surely, it would be rather naive to think that any power and not talking about super power would have left any territory without control for a longer time. It can be proved by a twenty- year cycle, which tragically hit Slovak intelligence and not only in the twentieth century. But over the past twenty years, there a horrifying fact appeared that there is more courage to collaborate with powers against our own interests but not even collaborate in order to protect and develop our national interests. What a shame! Unfortunately, I cannot distinguish the consequences of political activities of present so- called elites from uncontrolled behaviour in the post war era. And we cannot be appeased by the fact that the situation is the same in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary… I repeat it again, malign ideology such as communistic one has been ruling at present, just internationalism of a Moscow type was replaced by globalization what is nothing else than melting national states as sugar in coffee with the main aim to get rid of any obstacles for uncontrolled behaviour and handling performed by the international monopoles.
However, it seems that Christianity itself is in crisis, mainly in West Europe. Does Europe need its new spiritual conversion? What should it contain?
 All I mentioned above are just links in the same chains initiated by the French revolution. This process began to do away with monarchies, to chain up putsches, civil wars that resulted in the outbreak of the First World War and disintegration of the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy, then the Bolshevik putsch in Russia and murdering of the Russian monarch and his family. The Second World War is not an exception of this chain. On the contrary, it points out at the mechanism as a horrible Golem of mass killing hysteria and hatred works if it is initiated by the right “button” of two irreconcilable ideas, etc. Something similar can be observed in the restlessness in North Africa and as we know contemporary Russia as well as other states are endangered. It can all result in provoked collision of Europeans with Muslim world. Europeans must be aware of the fact that Muslims do not endanger them. Europeans endanger their own children by losing their Christian identity, consuming way of life, holocaust of unborn children, preferring hedonism and decadency to esteem of life and by their irresponsible approach towards family and nation. In this context when being under pressure of liberalism, the ability of Christianity to work as an immunity system of the European civilization declines and in my opinion, the Church is heading the wrong direction. Each compromise being accompanied by decline is just an agreement with future decline. Instead of liberalism and compromises I would choose return to pure traditions, purity regardless conflict and martyrdom which will appear sooner or late. However, it is just my point of view. I might be wrong in my opinion.
John Paul II, a Polish Pope, the first pope of a Slavonic origin emphasized Slavonic people and their Christian spirituality which might or could have helped west Christianity to escape from oppression of post- modernism and liberalism. Do Slavs and thus Slovaks this potential to “put a stop” to what is generally said to be pouring from West?
Although all my work resists liberal utopia, I am not sure if it can be stopped. As all cheap and harmful, it does not offer daunting program, on the contrary, it offers illusory paradise without effort, you can just crawl under, in other words, it is enough to reduce the entire traditional system of values, starting with morality and ending with national awareness. And masses love undemanding utopias which settle down easily… However, Slavonic nations have their ability to resist. We, Slovaks, a total miracle and we are still here and we even have our own state although according to all theories we should not exist any more. After a thousand years without our own self- administration of public matters even biggest nations would have disappeared. Well, remember that Bernolák ´s people, Štúr, Štefánik or Tiso did not give in the contemporary trends, but they managed to resist and learnt their lesson and took just the things that were in accordance with the nature of our nation I believe in vitality of the Slovak national spirit and even though the situation might have seemed hopeless from the contemporary point of view. Action leads to reaction. Somewhere at imaginary Sitno, in the basis of national being, the knights will surely wake up to lead a fight not only when drinking beer but in the spiritual field as well.
John Paul II promoted the mission of Sts Cyril and Methodius among Slavonic people (predecessors of Slovaks and Slovenians) and Slavs from the east and south from the seconds half of the 9th century to a mission of European importance when he declared them as co- patrons of Europe. Apart from that, he was the author of an idea that thanks to their work Europe could have breathed not just by its west but also by its east lung. How do you perceive this attempt to at least spiritual unification of west and east Christians? Is it possible? Who needs who more? West Christians the east ones or vice versa?
Vladimir Solovjov, an outstanding Russian philosopher, already pointed out at the need of what John Paul II gave its metaphorical name- undivided lungs. There are no big differences in faith between Catholicism and Orthodox Church; we can call Roman Catholics and Greek Catholic spirituality as Orthodox if we think profoundly about the contents of the word “true celebration of God.” However, this is not the issue. The problem is rooted somewhere else- as it will assure more cultural and national development and Catholicism which is being pushed  to the periphery of social life and Russian orthodox church damaged by a century of persecutions and infiltration. Even a layman can see that defeat of communism does not mean the end of fights against Russia. While the struggle against bolshevism was moral appropriate, present military oppression of Russia and attempts to weaken it from inside to threats of “revolution” seem rather insane activities of decadent west political elites. And they really mean it. Seriously. As we could see it in the case of Serbia and Kosovo- holy Serbian territory out of which Slavonic people were expelled by deceit. I personally wish this unity and together with Solovjov, I have already been carrying it out in my heart. However, I am really concerned that as he described his worry in 1900 and he depicted it in his Legend of Anti- Christ that the United States of Europe will bring Europe to the rule of Anti- Christ and consequent painful catharsis from his self- deceit will be the solution and will lead to the right and true integrity.
When we look at the tragedy of Orthodox Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija or recent war between Catholic Croatians and Orthodox Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Croatia, it does not seem there was peace between east and west Christians. What do you think of this war- was it inevitable, was it more religious than civil war (Serbian point of view) or national war (Croatian point of view)? Did it help to get west and east Christians together or it just erected a “new civilization wall?”
I have mentioned a lot in my previous answers. Balkan is a “soft underbelly” of Russia. Disintegration of Yugoslavia, the war between the fraternal nations, bombing of Serbia and the attempts to disintegrate Kosovo. It is an initiating mechanism of consequent steps with much more terrifying impact on millions of people and large territories. If I had to be more precisely, they would have been just manoeuvres before just bigger geopolitical changes. Some states are discontented as they have no free way to natural sources which they think are wasted as they are not being used and on the other hand they know what it would mean the alliance of the EU and Russia in the Euro- Asian dimension.
The phenomenon of Islam is again included in the dialogue among Christians. But on purpose. It is not clear what attitude to Islam should Christians have. Supporters of globalization talk about mutual tolerance and overcoming the historical aversion, however, we all see that West Europe is frightened by Islam and have negative approach to it, in Central Europe it I not so known and in Balkan, Islam is as if being protected by NATO, the EU and the USA. Is Islam another tool of globalists and non –Christians which is supposed to weaken Christianity and Slavonic people in Europe and push them to the corner?
West has two or three different approached towards Islam? Somewhere it is supported; somewhere it is punished, obviously depending on the level of geopolitical interest. All these theories concerning collision of civilization, which are created in heads of amoral “smarty pants” are just servants of apologists of military affairs and playing with fire that can cause uncontrolled conflict among each other. In my modest opinion and in accordance with my conscience, I think that our mission is not to develop hatred to strange identity and fear from its increase but strengthen wisdom and our own identity and not destroy it. Europe has set on the way of liberalism and refuses Christianity but it sets its bill in advance. It can either be revived Christianity or it will disappear. I see no other real alternative…
Modern Slovakia freely and naively became a part of civilization group that destroys it spiritually. Not only God and living Christianity are being suppressed but also any spiritual and literal demonstrations are being eliminated and are not supported although they search for the truth, ethics, morality, return to Christian values and emphases mainly inner voice of a man- his conscience. Using sophisticated methods, deceit via media and politicians is presented as the truth and the truth as a lie. And thus many people have no idea that they build their career, argumentation and set of values on the sand of managed manipulation and disinformation and short- termed “human truths and values.” How can you breathe in this environment? Where do you get your inner energy and peace from? Do you rely on walks in the nature, which you love so much, or intensive prayers and inner dialogue with God?
Mr Matejovič, at this point we could have started a new interview. It would be really long. I cannot express it in two or three sentences. Simply said, since my childhood, I have experienced a lot of events, circumstances, encounters, inner discoveries that I cannot explain in different words as justice of God concerning such a man as I am, full of sins not deserving his mercy. We are given a chance to decide by each word. Each word set us off the journey at the imaginary crossroads, you can choose to either left or right. Saying each word we either convert to God or from him. I always try to listen to my conscience and chooser roads of conversion to God. I guess there have been more of them so far and the others. I have said to myself the same gospel story many times its substance can be read by every sensitive and searching man as concentrated look as at the sky full of stars, like heaven where we are allowed to walk up- on the grass, it is a strange cuneiform under our feet or contemplation, concentrated listening to silence which is clearly shouting from us and finally by explicit reading of Gospels.
Can a poet remain faithful to his inner conviction and use a gift he was given by our Creator so that he crated not for money and from money but from his heart, sincerely and truly? So that he became his own administrator of his talent he was given? What inspires you to write new and new poems and renew not just people´ s roots, the essence of their being but also their historical and cultural memory?
We cannot talk on behalf of all, just express ourselves. In my opinion- a poet and each artist has to serve not himself but to something that is always called as this loud silence which he contemplates himself. God is the only Creator. An artist is only a euphemism of Creator. He is only his pencil, brush, whistle that God makes from the willow wood… Our task is to help to be ready from educational point of view and use this gift when the moment of mercy comes and we know or believe that we can write, paint or play. I do not make up my poems; they are not even a record of past events. On the contrary, they are often a vision of future acts. Poetry writing is not as a reason to be proud, it is the other way round, I feel modest, I feel fear whether I can use these moments of mercy that sometimes come to me. I feel that I would not be able to repeat the current performance again. That is why I try to suppress my own ego, this natural tendency of a human being to possess what really doe not belong to him and I always thank for each Visit…
You issue a magazine which depends only on ethics. However, is the ethics still the same? Doesn’t it change and adjust to the era? Or is it just a phrase, a kind of a summary of moral norms written on the paper that no one believes any more or doe not want to believe? Do you think that contemporaries are afraid of ethics and perceive it as something that cannot be returned to the system of values of human society?
Ethics and dependence on it in the subtitle of the magazine Kultúra, I have been issuing and editing for fourteen years, is based on the Ten Commandments. No one can change these Commandments by violence or democratic voting or by lies. It has always lasted and will last forever as long as this world will last. This is the reason why, in the context of various pretended independence of media, I found it inevitable to express the dependence to something that it the only dignified. Surely, dependence does not mean infallibility – I have never had it and never will. It is only our passion to good, desire to choose the direction at the crossroads I have already mentioned above, the direction which will be favoured by God and people and that is it.
Why will poetry never become a mass culture? How do you see the future of spiritual poetry in Slovakia and Europe?
 You ask me questions that I can hardly answer when given such a small space and without any simplification I would not like to sin against real sense of poetry as I perceive it.
Let’s agree that we will discuss this complicated and very interesting problem next time. If there is a will, anytime on the pages of such a useful magazine as Dimenzie is. For the time being, I would shorten it as following: The sense of human life is not and never will be remodelling perfect products but exhausting work in the part for the waste. A human being has its consciousness and more he gets to know himself, more he becomes. More the man knows himself, more differences he sees between his own abilities and what he has- not deserved gift. Obviously, it will lead him to the knowledge that there is someone who is the Truth, Way and Life, in whom Hope is placed; who is Being himself, whose emanation, expression is beauty apart from all. And a man who meets such reflections of Beauty in his heart will never replace bliss for commercial order even though it was very lucrative. On the contrary, he will choose poverty and people’s disfavour, rather than betraying this voice which his calling him to create.                                         
Photo report
Wanderings across Croatia
The town of Zrínsky and the restaurant Mala Hiža.
Moravian uniqueness and delicatessen
Olomoucké tvarůžky have protected geographical indication from the European Union as a traditional Czech product. They are the best to be served with bread and beer.
Róbert Matejovic
Photo: the author
They have their unique and distinctive scent and delicious taste. Their surface is covered, golden-yellow sticky surface and coherent to semi soft texture with a noticeable lighter core. The shape usually has the form of discs, rings, rods, or irregular flavoured pieces. They are easily digestible and do not contain any chemical preservatives or additives. They contain calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins, pro-biotic cultures and the least amount of fat out of all cheese worldwide- only one per cent! As they have low calories and low level of cholesterol, they are suitable source of nutrition for sportsmen or people who prefer diets. The cheese was given the name “Olomoucké” because it was produced in the villages surrounding Olomouc and was sold at markets in Olomouc.
This is a short definition of this unique Moravian product- Olomoucké tvarůžky which are known in Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Austria and Germany as “smelly cheese”. In fact, it is delicious table soft, defatted cheese made of the highest- quality sour curd from pasteurized cow milk.
Alois Wessels´s Descendants
At present, cheese is made by the oldest, biggest and the only producer worldwide- A.W.spol.s.r.o. in Loštice, this is a small town in Olomouc region. The town is also called “the Metropolis of Olomoucké tvarůžky”. They have been produced there since 1876. Even between the years 1948 and 1989 when the famous family company was nationalized and managed by communists. Descendants of Alois Wessels, whose initials are the name of the company, quickly managed to get the firm back in restitutions after the Velvet Revolution in November 1989. “ We were among first people in Olomouc region and maybe in former Czechoslovakia who were successful in restitutions. As there was nothing to solve because the family had preserved all necessary documentation that we had submitted to the institutions. We began production right after return of the enterprise symbolically on January 1, 1991,” explains Jaroslav Kovář, one of the executives of this family company and a husband of Alois Wessels´s great granddaughter. In the company management there are other offsprings of this significant businessman and establisher of the manufacture of Olomoucké tvarůžky, which had been also exported to Central Europe and even to Balkan. “Why were we interested in restitution? Olomoucké tvarůžky are the only and genuine Moravian cheese with at least 500- year- old producing tradition in the region Haná in Central Moravia. And we just could not leave it when we were given the opportunity to get it back. I must confess, having been in euphoria, we had had no idea what to expect to change the “socialistic wrack” into something comparable to present world,” J. Kovář adds. He invited me to visit not only his company but also Loštice where popular Loštice Festival of Olomouc Cheese (Olomoucké tvarůžky ) and Music is held every year.
Strategic product
Their main organizer is the town and Ctirad Lolek, an active mayor of the town, is an initiator and spirit of the festival. Ten years ago, when he took the post of a mayor, he set up his goal to increase presentation of the town not only in the region but also across the whole Czech Republic. “As I really desired to achieve that goal, I found it as a good idea to join our cheese as a unique product of an important company in our town with cultural tradition of the town which is formed by a 130-year-old amateur group, a brass band and almost 40 associations and community organizations. I joined them all. I prepared the program of the festival and together with my friends from the amateur theatre, Zdeněk Večeřa, a businessman, and a King of Olomoucké tvarůžky and other supporters; we change it annually according to the actual situation. I am glad that I managed to convince the town MPs for financial, material and technical support,” says Ctirad Lolek, a mayor of the town.
The company A.W. plays the most important role in supporting this event where almost 400 people and organizers are involved as it provided contestants, performers and audience with this golden delicatessen. The most active part of the program is a competition in fastest eating of a meter- long cheese (tvarůžek.) There are groups of six contestants who, being supported by audience try to eat cheese as fast as possible. The record of six minutes and thirty- three seconds has not been broken yet. Not only the mayor but also citizens of Loštice are proud of this festival and having been influenced by permanent presentation of the town, they gained funds for complete reconstruction of the town centre and thus increase tourism there. “The number of visitors in the Museum of Olomouc Cheese( Olomoucké tvarůžky) and the Museum of A. Kašpar, an illustrator of a well- known novel Babička by a famous writer Božena Němcová, has risen dramatically. It is over 20,000 tourist a year,” the mayor adds.
Olomoucké tvarůžky (Olomouc Cheese) are very important to the town and employment of its inhabitants to such an extend that the town council included creation of an industrial zone in the territorial plan of the town development and wants the company A.W. to use this place for its further development.
High- quality curd and bacterial micro-flora
“Our cheese is made of sour curd. It is typical for its crumbly structure, big and firm core, high sourness and biological activity,” explains Miroslav Zemánek, a head of production who told me a bit about their production process. “Then, the curd is crumbled and mixed with salt. This curd is then stored in special containers where the homogenization of required features appear spontaneously when the curd is squashed and with no air. This curd mass is later kneaded with high-quality Czech milk cultures and regulators of sourness which have an influence of maturing components, then it is grinded and prepared for making required shapes,” M. Zemánek continues. These semi-finished products are placed on trays which are place in maturing rooms with maturing components and where micro- climate is maintained so the cheese matures at its surface first. Then it is rinsed by water what crates conditions for the second grade of maturing during which aerobic protolytic micro flora multiplies. “Its enzymatic activity creates golden- yellow sticky surface, there is special bacterial micro- flora that also has protective function against undesirable micro- organisms. Olomoucké tvarůžky thus gain their unique and typical taste, smell and colour. After reaching required grade, they are packed and mature. The recipe has not changed; just people have been replaced by machines. According to strict hygienic regulations of the European Union, original wooden tool have been replaced by stainless ones,” M. Zemánek points out as I am observing with an interest selection and packing of this cheese and its flavoured and seasoned versions that are sold as “Greetings from Loštice”. Although the company A.W, is its only producer, the company produces and sells more than 30 kinds of this cheese- they differ by its weight, shapes, packaging and added spices. Technological project of cheese production has also been supported by the EU from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Who invented “tvarůžky”?
Current modern production of “tvarůžky” is certified according to the legislation of the EU (reg. no. CZ 712 ES) and Higher Standard of IFS (International Food Standard). “ It is a document exceeding regularly used certification from the side of veterinary administration and which is required by store chains as proof that our production is managed correctly from all sides. It is a kind of ISO standards for food,” thinks Jaroslav Kovář.
The oldest references to the manufacture of cheese date back to the 16th century, but it was likely common food at the time. Over the centuries, this cheese maintained its position in people’s diet and it was also eaten by Emperor Rudolf II. Olomouc Cheese (Olomoucké tvarůžky) earned good reputation at the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1872. “But who invented this cheese? Ordinary people or monks”, I ask my host.
“We will never find out. However, I have never heard and have no information that monks had taken part in inventing this cheese. It is cheese that was made in the country around Olomouc mainly during summer from redundant milk. People living in our climate conditions always solved the problem of relative sufficiency of food in summer and catastrophic lack of food in winter. It was the matter of survival. There were no freezers, no ways of food preservation as we know nowadays as modern ways of food processing and storing. Our predecessor probably, by method try or mistake found out that milk gets sour in warm conditions, they learnt to make curd of it and also realized when they add a lot of salt, and it will stay fresh for a long time. Even though some micro- organisms get into it and they are all around us and them “do their jobs”, curd begins to mature and changes into cheese.”
The Part of the Menu
Local restaurants take advantage of this famous tradition. In the pension “ U Coufalů“ in the centre of Loštice, which is situated right opposite a new outlet and production of “tvarůžky”, the meals with this cheese are written on the first page of the menu. Guests can choose the whole “tvarůžky” menu- from the starter through the main course, salads to desserts, such as “tvarůžky” crumpet with fruit.
The offer includes traditional combinations, for example fish roll with “tvarůžky” or ham, “tvarůžky” coated in breadcrumbs and fried and even more inventive recipes such as “tvarůžky” and banana on a needle. One of the most popular meals are “syrečky po uhersku“- fried rings of “tvarůžky” covered by a slice of “ uherák” ( a special salami). They are served with onions and beer. U Coufalů is the first place in the world with a dispenser for Olomouc cheese. The cheese which the dispenser possesses is always fresh and extremely delicious. It's also cheep and a lot of people got used to buying the cheese easily from the dispenser.
In Slovakia, the firm Miroslav Chovanec Coronis deals with sales and propagation of this delicatessen from Loštice and with recipes for meals with this cheese. The firm has been the exclusive distributor and representative of the company A.W. since 1995. „ We sell “tvarůžky” mainly in chain stores. At present we are working on opening an outlet in Kysucké Nové Mesto where customers will be able to buy all kinds of Olomouc Cheese ( Olomoucké tvarůžky). In cooperation with the firm Koro s.r.o., we managed to produce cheese spreads and include a special pizza of Loštice with Olomoucké tvarůžky into the menus of some known pizzerias. We are also planning to produce frozen and pre- fried “tvarůžky,” says Miroslav Chovanec. It is said that “tvarůžky” are the best with bread and beer. Probably their taste and smell go together. “ I think they fulfil each other. Beer is a kind of standard but there are also people who drink just milk (even sour) or mineral water when eating this cheese. There is a small problem when choosing wine. Tvarůžky are of stronger taste and would eliminate the taste of wine. Our Hungarian distributors faced this problem and we have tried to choose the most suitable wine for a few times,” Jaroslav Kovář adds smiling.
The Museum of Olomouc Cheese
It is an enterprise museum of the company A.W. which was established in 1994 in the original operation in Palackého Street in Loštice. Visitors can see old tools and wooden technology of processing curd for making “tvarůžky”. The part of the artefacts was provided by the family, the part is borrowed from the Vlastivedné museum in Olomouc.
In the past, “tvarůžky” were produced in the villages near Olomouc and were called “selské syrečky” (peasant cheese). Later, the main production moved to Loštice where Josef Wessels began production of first cheese in 1876 in his workroom. After 1892, his son Alois took over the manufactory and changed it into a factory. The Wessels´s family managed to defeat its competitors and became the biggest producer of this cheese in Austro- Hungary and later in Czechoslovakia. Alois Wessels gave his daughters two factories as a dowry. One of them had initials A.W. and the second J.D. after his son- in- law, Jaroslav Dubský.
Invest story
The Slovenian Jewel of Olimia
The place where everything is full of feelings, nice smells and where you can experience using all senses starting from thermal water, which is rich of silicone, to the splendid nature and architecture.
Róbert Matejovič
Photo: the archive Terme Olimia, d.d.
Terme Olimia (The Spa of Olimia), which was known as Atomske Toplice, has changed dramatically over past ten years. From the former old spa village, it now turned into the most luxurious thermal health care and wellness complex in Slovenia with the capacity of 130 beds. The owner of the spa is Terme Olimia, d.d., a state stock- joined company, which has invested more than 35 million Euros in modernization and development of infrastructure since the year 2000. The European structural funds have played a significant role in these investments.
The entire complex of Olimia with an aqua park is situated in the east of Slovenia, close to the Slovenian and Croatian border near the village of Podčetrtek in the regional Kozinsky natural park. Old legends say that the thermal springs nearby Podčetrtek, which are rich of curing silicone; have already attracted visitors for four centuries. As there is no industry in the region, it offers its visitors healthy and pure environment on which wellness tourism, trips and country holiday are based on. I also enjoyed hospitability of local people and beauty of unspoilt nature when I visited this beautiful corner of Slovenia recently. In addition, there was really so much to admire- harmonic connection of nature and spa, healing mineral water, wellness and luxurious accommodation.
Numero Uno located among the Alps, Adriatic Coast and River Danube
“Our goal is to become the best spa in the region among the Alps, Adriatic and Danube and thus move our company to the direction that will allow us a long- term growth and development. And also become a leader in the development of tourism in the region,” said Vasja Čretnik, a trade and marketing director of Terme Olimia, d.d., to me in the pleasant café of the four- star wellness hotel Sotelia in which the biggest part of the modern congress centre Olimia- five congress halls are situated. Mr Čretnik invited me to see this unusual hotel so that I could understand the business philosophy and investments of the company Terme Olimia better. “It represents our approach towards the environment, connection with history and curing herbs as well as modern extraordinary architecture which is in accordance with nature,” he says. Meanwhile, I curiously look at the green roof of the hotel and its big light areas that just prove its connection with nature and create the impression of harmonic connection with the environment. That is why it was awarded prestigious Plečnik´s Award for Garden and Country Architecture in 2006.
Wellness and entertainment are domains
“Wellness way of life is dominant in our spa. Wellness is philosophy that strengthens body and soul in various ways. It is the way that enables us to protect and care for health, relaxed atmosphere and it helps us to improve quality of life. It includes care for body, relaxation to strengthen spiritual balance, respect of basic principles of healthy life style, awareness of people’s own power to protect vitality. Wellness explains all principles of modern health prevention, develops and uses all activities including sports, physical and spiritual care, education, beauty, exercises and relaxation in the nature,” explains Vasja Čretnik. Meanwhile, he leads me along the underground corridor to the part of the Hotel Rosa, the Hotel Breza and to the spa centre Termalija, which offers its guests 2000 square meters of water with a waterfall and a pool for children and a wellness centre Termalija with the biggest sauna world. Whirlpools, underwater, hand and Roman massages, Jacuzzi, Turkish and Finnish saunas, massages, face and body treatment, exotic rituals and methods which are the heritage of a hundred- year tradition from India, Tiber and Thailand, they have the only goal- to provide you with pleasure and relax so that you were able to face new business or life challenges.
This year, Terme Olimia, d.d. wants to invest in building a new toboggan in a closed part of the pool in the wellness centre Termalija and next year, they are going to build new water attractions in the thermal park Aqua Luna. The plan includes construction of Adventurous Children’s Park (Adventure).
New Medical Wellness
Terme Olimia with its services carries out new message and reaches results. They do not specialize on a particular group because they offer various programmes for all groups. During the summer holidays for families with children, throughout the year, it offers programmes to couples and individuals who come to enjoy wellness, romantic and relaxing weekends and stays, in autumn and spring to groups of retired people. During the year, people suffering from health problems (rheumatic disorders, psoriasis, disorders of periphery nerves) also visit us or when they need physiotherapy after the operations on musculoskeletal system. Programmes are offered to firms and institutions that organize various seminars and congresses in the spa.
“Will wellness stay the priority programme for the spa anyway or will it be completed by medical tourism?” I asked Vasja Čretnik during the lunch when we were enjoying famous “lignje na žaru” (grilled octopus) in the restaurant. “Although we focused all our offers on wellness, we reached a strategic decision: we will invest more money in the programme which is the combination of relaxation and medical wellness when we realize the fact that growing number of population and to increase awareness about the importance of health. We think that these are and will be inexhaustible trends which are necessary for the development and use.”
As he told me, the main goal, on which the vision of Terme Olimia is based, will be reached only by the participation of all employees that will be highly motivated and educated. “We attempt to be faster in the development of new services that will be based on the tradition of the environment, nature and curing herbs, training, education and motivation to work in the international competitive enterprise. The duty of good feeling of our guests is the basic principle at work. Discovering wisdom of nature and our predecessors are also the principles that we will support and develop as it plays very important role from the point of view of reviving life in our society.”
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Franciscan monastery with a medieval pharmacy, a chocolate manufactory and Jerlenov Greben, a country farm, will attract you very much in the most beautiful European village.
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