May 2010Are we better than priests and the Pope?
They want powerful and confident Slovakia in the EU
The town where roses blossom…
Will it be a Jewish or democratic state?
Why the euro is not on course to dislodge the dollar?
Libya Joins the Jihad Against Switzerland
Will the USA supremacy be replaced by China?
What is Christian Humanism?
A chauffeur’s Testimony in Sarajevo
It hurts, that is why I am laughing…
Atelier Tri Kamene
Slovak cyclist in the race Paris- Nice
Dilemma of Orban´s Presidency in the EU: “Hungarism” in Central Europe or problems of Europe?
So far, Slovak diplomacy has been inefficient and weak against the Hungarian amendment act law on Hungarian citizenship. However, nobody in Brussels and neighbouring states have responded to the Slovak arguments and mainly to Slovak emphasising that the Hungarian side approved this amendment without consulting it with Slovakia and it is against the international law. It seems that Slovakia is testing its power, diplomatic skills and influence as Serbia in the issues of independence of so-called Kosovo republic. Serbia got at least the support of two powerful states in its defend of international laws – Russia and China and five member states- Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Romania and Slovakia. Of course, it is not possible to compare the international law in case of gaining doubled citizenship and declaration of independence in the territory of an independent state after an unfair war and its occupation. But, on the other hand, it is possible to compare approaches and ways how to apply and pursue international law. In case of the Kosovo republic, the international laws are always violated because the resolution of the UN Security Council are ignores (this resolution guarantees sovereignty of Serbia over Kosovo and Metohija) and the Serbian province is still under the forced protectorate of the EU and NATO (KFOR). In case of issues Hungarian citizenship from the international law it is obvious that although the state can choose people whom they will consider its citizens but there is a condition connected with it that the legal adjustment cannot violate laws of another state and thus its sovereignty!
Viktor Orbán was not lucky after his return to the post of Prime Minister; neither had he behaved responsibly and friendly against in Slovakia. He wanted to begin as a total winner and hold a record in terms of the parliamentary election. If he wanted to do European and Hungarian gesture right from the beginning of his government, he should not have planned his first visit to Poland but Slovakia. He could have come to Slovakia and explain to Slovak people the sense and timing of this amendment of the law on Hungarian citizenship. Or at least, Slovak and Hungarian speakers of both parliament. However, it is the other way round and it seems Hungarian and Slovak relationships have to produce only tension and conflicts. And it also appears that Slovak Hungarians are supposed to become silent companions watching what is happening. Neither Slovak nor Hungarian governments are interested in their opinions in spite of political nor did one- side Forum of Hungarian MPs in the Carpathian valley. Slovak politicians let the solutions to their social and economic problems to the Party of Hungarian coalition and now, it is the party Most- Híd. However, first of all, there are citizens of the Slovak republic who do not require territorial autonomy or Hungarian citizenship. They live in Slovakia enjoying their peace and quiet and have the same problems as the Slovaks do…
Viktor Orbán and FIDESZ present it present power and popularity. He planned passing the amendment act on Hungarian citizenship in the Hungarian parliament just before the 90th anniversary of the Treaty of Trianon. The law comes into effect since 20th August 2010, on St. Stephen’s Day, the founder of the Hungarian Kingdom and applied since 1st January 2011 when Hungary will chair the European Union. What a fantastic and superb celebration of the historically first Hungarian presidency in the EU - giving Hungarian citizenship to Hungarians living Hungary? However, it is disputable whether it will be disputable or really, one of the most important priorities of Hungarian Presidency...
And this fact also hides the charm of the entire Orban´s diplomacy and posing and placing himself into the position of the Prime Minister of all Hungarians living abroad. But is it really like that? Do Hungarians from abroad really support Viktor Orbán and FIDESZ? Or JOBBIK? Why does Viktor Orbán put so much pressure on Hungarian minorities, citizens of other states into the corner and speak on behalf of them? He gives them two simple options- they can either join or stay aside likes “a man of betrayal”.
Mr Orbán will have to pursue and represent the interests of the European Union which struggles against economic, social and spiritual crisis. Just like Hungary. Instead of searching for solutions, leaders of Europe worry more about equal rights for gays and lesbians and gender equality (Hungary minorities for change) than about becoming independent from American economy, revival of domestic production and consumption. It is also about Euro. After Greece, the pressure on Spain is increasing as well. Even though Hungary is an active member in a trio of rotating membership of the EU (Spain, Belgium, Hungry), neither FIDESZ nor Mr Orbán do not talk about solutions to the European problems. We do not know their proposals and commentaries. It is all the other way round, the fact that Mr Orban pays more attention to Hungarian- Polish relationships which are not influences negative historical experience, shows that a new Hungarian government does not follow European but its regional interests. If we searched for exact Hungarian proposals for the contents of east policy of the EU or eastern partnership, we would not find anything apart from informal orientation to Hungarian minority in Ukraine.
Poland has always wanted to hold a position of the leader in Central Europe and it seems it would like to assist Orban´s Hungary as well. Poland, which has its interests in Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania, however, failed because it pursued strong anti- Russian politics and supported division of Ukraine into its pro- European and pro- Russian parts. Poland, however, did not succeed in this politics although having been supported by Brussels, London and Washington. Hungary is searching for its new central European ally - Poland. They have the only thing in common- the history of Hungarian Kingdom and renewal of Hungarian- Polish border in March 1939. Poland does not have its specific and ethnical interests in Trans-Carpathian Ukraine; Transylvania in Romania, in Vojvodina in Serbia and in the east of Slovakia and that is why it sounds rather illogical to support this silent or open Hungarian offensive against neighbouring states through Hungarian minorities living abroad. Viktor Orbán threatens not only international credibility of Hungary but also its cooperation within the Vysegrad Four. His pro-Hungarian politics in the Carpathian Valley can face very though resistance and can initiate anti-Hungarian coalition. Not only Slovaks, but also Croatians, Serbs, Romanians, Ukrainians, Slovenians are very sensitive to the issues of Hungarian nationalism and patriotism. It is very surprising that Mr Lajčák, who earned the credit of a reputable diplomat, has not yet visited the states where numerous Hungarian minority lives and search for common opinion and approach against one-side step against Hungarian government.
However, it is more surprising that the Hungarian parliament has not so far found a way how to represent the minorities living in Hungary. Well, at least symbolically. They have been waiting for that since 1990. Instead of that the Hungarian parliament wants to solve the amendment act on election and the number of seats for foreign (unites) Hungarians. When and how will this game finish? And whom will it help? And in the end, one hypothesis. Let’s suppose that Pál Csáky, the leader of the Party of Hungarian Coalition who closely cooperates with Viktor Orbán, will be elected the MP of the Slovak parliament. If he gains Hungarian citizenship, will he take an oath of fidelity to the Hungarian Republic and will be able to become a candidate of the Hungarian parliament? He has not found enough courage to give answers to these questions.
editor in chief
East needs Bratislava
“We do not need secondary solutions in the form of social agendas. It is very difficult to build up fair relationships with the centre and acquire projects for East Slovakia. If it happens so, you need a serious and mainly reliable partner to carry them out. However, where to find him? ” asks Igor Sidor who would like to pursue a reform of activities of the Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Nature Protection.
East Slovakia needs new and modern politicians. Predominantly, it requires personalities with managerial skills, experience and exact results, a sense of pragmatic solutions and output. Igor Sidor is such a politician. He is a 46- year- old man from Košice, a man with a reputation of a significant entrepreneur, philanthropist and a sportsman, a CEO of the company V.O.D.S. which operates in the field of waste management. He has been one of the longest legal bodies having run his business in the area of the environment in Slovakia. He is a dedicated local-patriot although he works in Bratislava as well as in Košice. He appears to be a modest and ordinary person. Being successful in business allows him to focus on help for people in need in the field of charity, on support of social, cultural and mainly sport activities.
Mr Sidor, do you agree with an opinion coming from Bratislava that many people from the east who arrived in Bratislava “have captured” it, slowly forgot about their native region and assimilated with Bratislava system of thinking and decision- making?
Although Bratislava has been captured by people from the east, Bratislava rules Slovakia! “We do not need secondary solutions in the form of social agendas. It is very difficult to build up fair relationships with the centre and acquire projects for East Slovakia,” claims Igor Sidor who would like to pursue a reform of activities of the Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Nature Protection.
There seems to be correlation but it is not! In other words, East needs Bratislava! However, the situation could change when Bratislava will need east! I think European projects can help us with that and mainly their implementation as east has an outstanding advantage- its universal work force! Along with people’s modesty that teaches people from the east to survive in tougher conditions.
Have or have not people from the east living in Bratislava forgotten their roots?
On the one hand I know many who forgot their roots as soon as they had arrived in Bratislava; nevertheless, on the other hand, I know many who have been fighting for East! Personally, I see Bratislava as a trade centre. Having run business there for over ten years, I manage to establish fair relationships and based on them, I am able to bring some project to the east. I respect Bratislava and its position. It has an operating economy and I am glad that I am able to take project from the centre to East Slovakia. It has been more than seven years, since I began to divide my time between the capital city and the metropolis of the east with the only goal, to bring job opportunities to the region. I must confess that all my entrepreneurial activities are just here (in Košice)! Every week, I go “on a business trip” to Bratislava and as a local- patriot, I could hardly bear the fact that I usually use motorways of our neighbours in south if there are no flights available. However, this motorway is much more comfortable and mainly safer connection between Košice and Bratislava than the roads in the south of Slovakia!
Why are there still differences among the regions in Slovakia?
It is just bad infrastructure that is the reason of huge regional differences! There is not main road connection from the west to the east what puts bigger investors off and they are not interested in running business in the east. And many of them have no idea how demanding it is to get, for example, from Košice to Snina when a hundred-kilometre way takes you more than two hours!
What do you consider most comparable advantages of East Slovakia?
People from the east appreciate their work! Most of all, this corner of Slovakia is full of natural beauties and presuppositions to become the centre of European tourism. Sninský Vihorlat, the Slovak Paradise, the river Dunajec or Tokay area in the south are hidden pearls waiting to be discovered. Now and again, I would like to remind that it will not be real without infrastructure.
But is East Slovakia able to say what it wants? Or is it still searching for its clearer regional and political face? What do you think about it?
East needs job opportunities! Improving living standard and meeting needs will come along. It eliminates frustration and brings peace and harmony. Work brings stability to families and thorough them to the entire society. No work and unemployment deepens social differences. East does not need secondary solutions in the form of social programmes. If it is necessary to stop and eliminate further decline of the region, it is a top priority. I am alarming as I think that people like me are about to extinct! I will explain… First of all… it is very difficult to build up fair relationships with the centre and acquire projects for East Slovakia. If it happens so, you need a serious and mainly reliable partner to carry them out. However, where to find him? Well, every cleverer person has already left east to work in the west and those who stayed at home are slowly but surely getting more and more depressed or if you want more expressively more and more oppressed, well, by alcohol. East needs work if we want it to preserve its dignity and keep those clever at home. People from the east know what they want! Of course, not all of them know how to achieve their goals, however, they love working (and they feel like working)! If they did not, they would not have travelled to work somewhere else, and not only to Bratislava but also to other European countries or all over the world.
At present, you are a vice- chairman of the Košice regional organization of the party MOST- HÍD and a candidate for an MP to the National Assembly of the Slovak Republic. Do you want to operate in the parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Environment and Nature Protection?
Yes, as the environmental issues is the topic rather familiar to me and I feel confident and comfortable with it. I understand these issues very well and a have long-termed experience in this field.
What do you mind most about the current communication between the Ministry of Environment and the parliamentary committee?
To be honest, it is undervaluation even ignorance of so-called green employment. If I am elected an MP, I will pursue so that the Ministry of Environment informed the committee regularly about the prepared laws at the stage when discussion about its overall conception is still possible. The information should also include evaluation of not only the environmental contribution of new laws but also its real economic impact especially with a focus on support of so-called green employment. I feel sorry that Slovakia still ignores ecologization of industries and the fact that the field of environment can be a significant employer as well. That is why there are no programmes elaborated to support this aspect. Nevertheless, I see an opportunity in this case so that the parliamentary committee initiates elaboration of experts´ analyses and conception concerning green employment.
Do you have the topic you would like to pursue stubbornly in the parliament?
Yes, I do -elimination of discordance between European regulations and measures and Slovak laws. I would like the committee to use its power to get rid of discordance between the laws on environmental protection and laws from other fields such as agriculture, forestry, hunting but also their relations to other economic areas. We have to eliminate the situation when one law forbids something that the other allows to do or present situation-following one law can lead to violation of another law. My priority is to apply all the requirements of the EU profoundly, so that the Slovak Republic avoids potential penalties from the side of the European Commission.
There are more impractical theoreticians than specialists involved in the parliamentary committees who usually follow mainly “political criteria” of solving the problems. Is it possible to change it?
Certainly. I would attempt to extend cooperation of the committee wit specialists in the field of environment. The range of issues is rather wide and complicated that is why I would like to pursue the idea so that the committee is backed by advisors comprising people- specialists and experts in the field of science, research, practice and representatives of people organized in various specialists´ associations. I would like to use more the opportunity to hold the committee sessions at different places in Slovakia with different problems so that the MPs made decisions after getting to know the exact issues as well as be informed about the opinions of the public involved in particular matters.
Are you trying to say that the parliamentary committee should be more active when creating laws?
The committee should have over a more active role in giving direction to creation of new laws, not only wait passively what the government will submit it to be approved. The committee has to take an opportunity for their own legislative initiative and to prepare independent legislative proposals.
You have been a president of Košice women’s basketball team (Dobrí anjeli- Good Angels). What do you find most attractive about basketball?
I have experienced seven champion celebrations and last year, we had the greatest success ever in the Euro League, in which our club came in the first eight of the best teams. Ing. Daniel Jendrichovský, a general manager of the club, offered me the post of the president of the club. He told me with no hesitation that he was looking for a president who would represent the club, who would have no problems to communicate with sponsors and advertising partners in order to fill up the club’s treasury.
Košice Women’s Basketball is still popular and it belongs to sports that make Slovakia, Košice and its region famous. How is it possible to maintain its quality for a longer time?
I perceive the success of Košice Women’s Basketball in two ways. The first is connected with covered budget and I would like to point out that it is not easy at all! Just remember, that it is not the only club in Košice that has achieved domestic and international successes for a longer time and without support provided by our city! Shame on our city council!
The second way to our success leads through work with youth. If there are around 1,600 young girls playing basketball as juniors or cadets, at least half of them are in Košice! And it is the result of systematic and purposeful work.
Why does the city not support women’s basketball?
It is a question to be addressed to the city council and a mayor. I can just repeat what I have already said, what a shame! And even worse, nobody let me point it out that nobody from the city council or city representatives came to congratulate girls when they have won the Slovak championship for the seventh time. I have pinpointed it as girls played against Prešov and all the city representatives from Prešov arrived in Košice to support their girls and glorified them for winning the silver for the first time!
And it is also one of the reasons why I have decided to enter regional politics! I would like to change this sick and rigid system of dividing money to sports in Košice where political membership and illegal practice counts more that performance! A new conception of dividing funds in Košice, which has been proposed for a few times, and which should work based on achieved results, has never got to be signed!
Has the Košice Women’s Basketball achieved its top in the condition in Slovakia? Isn’t it high time to operate within a different league, not Slovak one?
There is no team in Slovakia to compete women’s basketball in Košice at present! We would like to beat the club record of Ružomberok in terms of champions (Ružomberok has won 11 times, Košice 7) and I think we have enough our own, I mean, Slovak players to achieve this goal. However, if we want to succeed in Euro League, we will not manage without two or three girls from abroad. It is due to a high standard of Euro League as many teams, especially from Russia, buy the best players in the world. We have received an offer from a Hungarian league, so we will see.
Let’s view the thing in the context, when these teams have a budget equal to our, however, ours is in Slovak crowns and their equivalent is in Euros. From this point of view, to be part of the best eight teams in Europe is an outstanding success not only for women’s basketball in Košice but also in Slovakia as such! What I consider very important is the fact that women’s basketball in Košice has its faithful fan and a dignified “sanctuary”, i.e. Infiniti Arena.
Your activity “Take a ball not drugs” is tightly connected with sports. Recently, you have been given an award of the Ministry of Education- St Gorazd´s Medal. What does it mean to you?
I am keen on football, which I used to play, and basketball joined it couple of years ago. I must confess that a break point appeared when my son refused to take a simple T-shirt with a logo of our project on it in spite of having a few branded clothes in his wardrobe. His regular participation in tournaments and an enormous enthusiasm of children who, being helped by sports, come across new ideas and find firm friendships, made me fascinated a lot! When I looked back, I kept asking myself a question whether it was only a syndrome of a teacher that started up that idea. It is true that I got fully involved in this project. I see it as an opportunity for children to spend their leisure time in a useful way. I am proud of an award given by the Ministry of Education and I am glad they noticed my work. It is an award not only for me but also for all those to take an active part in this movement. It was a great honour for me so that I could stand next to such personalities like Jozef Golonka and Štefan Kvietik.
Your project was helped by the recycling line in the industrial park of Kechnec. Thanks to that you use old tyres for the production of granulate and consequently rubber rugs, which are sued for building multifunctional playgrounds. It is an example of positive evaluation of waste and its recycling. How does the state support this activity?
Football, handball and basketball matches and tournaments, along with the idea of building multifunctional playgrounds, brought young people a new alternative of spending their free time and drew their attention away from alcohol and drug addiction, which seem to be becoming a bigger and bigger issue these days. By building multifunctional playgrounds, I try to bring sport facilities to every village and every town and city in Slovakia. It is a wiser solution to provide a lot of sport facilities on such a relatively small place. Self- governing regions have understood that, however, they struggle with funds as the state does not donate their construction. I consider it as my personal failure that I have not been able to lobby and get into the National Strategic Referential Frame so that old concrete playgrounds near school changed into new multifunctional ones! I would like to point out the word “multifunctional” as these playgrounds allow playing football, handball, basketball, tennis, volleyball, leg- ball and floor-ball. The surface of the playground is universal and it is not artificial grass that is popular among some sports but refused by the others. We have an excellent domestic product that meets all the European and Slovak norms. If the state shows more understanding to renew school playgrounds, we will be able to “stick” our rugs to every single nursery, kindergarten, primary and secondary school in Slovakia.
From a story of a businessman - Igor Sidor
After finishing the Military Service, I began working as a teacher at the Secondary Electro- technical School in Košice. My daughter was born and we lived in a one and a half- room flat, well, far away from comfortable living. So when, in 1990, my friends offered me to work for the sideline production, I did not hesitate and accepted it. Well, to be precise, I was a stakeholder as they needed a young man in a good health and physical condition who would be able to keep balance on thin tiles on roofs. We did their maintenance and the order often contained a change of lightning conductors. At that time, they used to be made of copper that we replaced by aluminium. Once, when coming back from work, I read an advertisement, in which Kovohuty Krompachy announced purchasing of copper and second- hand raw materials. I decided to drive old wired from lightning conductors there and I earned a fortune for the first time- more than 40,000 Czechoslovak crowns. Just to compare, my previous salary as a teacher was 1,900 crowns. Having been full of enthusiasm, I divided the money among my “colleagues” and told them how I managed to earn that. However, their reaction was more than refusing! None of them were interested to work as a dustman! Nevertheless, I did, so I began carrying out my business plan, I separated from them and gained my first licence Igor Sidor- V.O.D.S. in 1991 (Purchase and resale of second-hand raw materials). I began buying such materials going from a door step to a door step. I used my father’s soviet car VAZ 2103, a trail car and portable scales, I rented a garage as a storage room- they were my basic production means and the headquarters of the company. A total daily volume was quite good, at the level of a ton of separated waste. I gathered mainly copper, brass and aluminium.
After some ups and down the situation changed in the year 2000 and my coincidental meeting with my new neighbour JUDr. Vladimír Švirág. He brought financial capital but as a former director of a trade department with VSŽ, a.s., he was a suitable business partner for all enterprises and companies throughout Slovakia. We established the company V.O.D.S. and gave it its sophisticated dimension. We were the first private company in Slovakia that uses structural funds! Between the years 2004 and 2006, the Slovak Ministry of Environment created implementation of projects into practice altogether with commercial banks. However, we missed practical experience and mainly the system how to carry out those projects. WE managed to come up with a solution and initiate the negotiation of the minister with the boss of the bank association. The result was- we reached a mutual agreement, which enable to put into practice working guarantees of re- financing the projects. This system has been used since then. Of course, the challenges for the years 2007 and 2013 are rather different.
In 2006, we opened a plant for processing old tyres and rubber, the project in the industrial park Kechnec in the investment amount of 10 million Euros (300 million crowns), which was awarded by the Minister of Environment and we won the prize – the Project of the Year in
Slovakia. So far, it has been a unique plant not only in Slovakia but also in Central Europe. It processes 90% of old tyres in the Slovak market.
Another very important moment appeared in the development of the company in the year 2007 when the Austrian partner AVE joined the company. AVE is one of the three most powerful firms in the European market in the field of collection, gathering and recycling wastes. Our company is also the second biggest processor of electro- covers in Slovakia
Who is Mgr. Igor Sidor?
He was born in Michalovce in 1964. He grew up as the only child of his parents- Maria and Emil Sidor. His mother is a nurse and his father is an agriculturalist. His parents moved to Košice when he was six years old. He accomplished his secondary studies at the Secondary Grammar School at 28, Kováčška Street in Košice. He graduated from the Faculty of Education at P.J. Šafárik´s University, nowadays; it is a Faculty of Sports. He was been an entrepreneur since 1991, he is a co- establisher of V.O.D.S., a.s. (Výkup a Odpredaj Druhotných Surovín, Purchase and Resale of Second hand raw materials) and he is a shareholder of the company AVE V.O.D.S. odpadové hospodárstvo (waste management). He has been married twice and he is a carrying father of three children. He speaks Russian and Croatian.
Mukachevo and its Palanok
It is the second biggest and most important town in the Trans-Carpathian Ukraine, it has an image of a peaceful and quiet town with plenty of cultural sights. It spreads in the valley of the river Latorica approximately 40 kilometres from Uzghorod. Mukachevo has almost 100,000 citizens including numerous minorities such as Russians, Hungarians, Germans, Romany people and Slovaks. During the Cold War, there was a large military base of soviet air force built in the town.
Mukachevo is a town of rich history having been influenced by cultures of various nations and religions. It is a typical Central European town in which Byzantine culture mixes up with Jewish and west European Christian cultures and architectures.
In the 9th century, there was a Slavonic village in the original town area, which used to be the part of Great Moravia and later it belong to Kievan Rus. It is said that “white Croatians” established Mukachevo as a fortress. From the 10th century to the year 1538, the town was the part of the Hungarian Kingdom. From 1538 to the end of the 17th century, the town belonged to Transylvanian principality and the Austro- Hungary alternatively. From the end of the 17th century to the year 1918, it was the part of the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy. Based on the decision made by American and Carpathian Ruthenians who made an agreement with T.G.Masaryk, and after the establishment of the Treaty of Trianon, from June 4, 1918 to the First Vienna Award in 1938, it was the part of the first Czechoslovak Republic, during the Second World War, it belonged to Hungarian Kingdom. In November 1944, when the town was deliberated by the Red Army, there were the First Assembly of Popular (Communist) MPs held there. The manifesto approved and passed the connection of Trans- Carpathian Ukraine with the Soviet Ukraine which came into existence in June 1945.
Mukachevo used to be an important centre of Judaism, as Jews formed almost a half of its citizens. There were 30 synagogues before the World War II. Even in spring 1944, until Germany seized Hungary, there had been almost 15,000 Jews living in the town. After German oppression, many of them were deported to Auschwitz in May 1944. Nowadays, there are less than 300 Jews living in the town. According to the folk etymology, the name of the town “Mukachevo” is derived from the word”muka” (torture). i.e. suffering of poddaní while building and defending the castle. Another theory says that the name of the town is derived from the word “múka” (flour) as there was a mill situated near the castle. And Hungarian version claims that the Hungarian expression Munkács (Mukachevo) means demanding and it expresses great efforts Hungarians had had to show to reach to the territory of disintegrating Great Moravia and to the west border of Kievan Rus.
The most outstanding architectural sight of the town is a medieval castle Palanok. It rises dramatically on a steep hill of volcano origin in the south of the town at the altitude of 188 meters above the sea level. It was preceded by a system of wooden column fortification- palisades from which the name of the castle was derived- palank (wooden column). During the 12th and 13th centuries, the town could not be defeated by Cumans or Tatars.
The castle gained its present form at the end of the 14th century when it belonged to Teodor Korjatovič, Ruthenian principle of Lithuanian origin who had brought a numerous Ruthenian community to Mukachevo. He rebuilt a border castle of the monarchy and changed it into a non-defeatable fortress according to French engineers. Since then, the castle has consisted of three parts, lower, central and upper castles. He had an 85- metre deep well dug under one of the watchtowers in order to get water.
After defeating French Bastille, the castle was used as a prison for entire Europe from 1789 to 1897. Between the years 1805 and 1806, during Napoleon’s wars, St Stephen’s crown jewels were hidden in the castle. The castle also played a very important role during Anti- Habsburg uprisings. It established its position when defending Austro- Hungary as well. There used to be 164 canons and 60 barrels containing gun powder placed there. It used to be surrounded by a deep water ditch. And although it is still considered to the most picturesque buildings in Ukraine, many of its 130 rooms are in poor conditions, in ruins and have to been reconstructed. The castle, which had also experienced its “changes” into a military base and the school of agriculture, is now used by the Trans- Carpathian Geographic Museum and by the Hungarian minority in order to present Hungarian history of the Hungarian Kingdom.
The cult of Sándor Petofy, who visited the castle, and anti- Habsburg uprisings led by Juraj and Francis Rákoczi flourish there.
7x7 Let´s do it differently
The European Democratic Party comes along with a political alternative for all young (both in age and spirit), modern, dynamic, active Slovaks who feel to be Europeans.
Global Government is a challenge for democracy
The European Union is one of the most ambitious experiments to date in supranational governance. Our governance systems must more than ever offer citizens avenues for shaping the tomorrow‘s world they want their children to inherit.
Pascal Lamy, the WTO’s Director General and former EU Commissioner
Photo: the archive of the European Commission
This new decade is marked by the worst-ever economic crisis that’s also the first to have a global reach. The crisis has poured a good deal of cold water on the hopes and expectations created 20 years ago when the fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in an unprecedented era of economic openness and poverty reduction and a marked expansion of freedom, ideas, culture and technology.
The world today is in serious distress. Millions of jobs have been lost as a result of the economic crisis; we’ve also seen pandemics along with environmental problems, and this is impacting on millions of people in rich and poor nations alike. Nuclear proliferation, too, is on the rise, creating yet another of these global challenges that need global solutions. Our growing inter-dependence requires that the laws, social norms and values - all the mechanisms for framing human behaviour - need to be examined, debated, understood and operated together as coherently as possible. In sum, we need stronger and more effective global governance.
As with any system of power based on nation states, what is needed is “good” global governance; a system that offers a balance between leadership, efficiency and legitimacy, and which can ensure coherence. Global governance posses a number of challenges. The first is the difficulty of identifying leadership at a global level. The second is legitimacy, and particularly what is often perceived as decision-making at an international level that is too-distant, non-accountable and not directly challengeable. The third relates to coherence. In theory there should be no problem here because coherent action by a nation state in the various aspects of international governance should be translated into coherent global action. But we all know that nation states also have a monopoly on incoherence because in practice they often act incoherently. This is where the third challenge to global governance lies; how to deal with efficiency that is at times only partial and is also incoherent. And the fourth and final challenge is the remoteness of power and the multiple levels of government that also call efficiency into question.
Managing global problems by using traditional models of national democracy has important limitations. And yet the very credibility of our national democracies is at risk if global governance fails to establish its own democratic credentials because citizens around the world feel that the issues that affect them daily aren’t being adequately dealt with.
The Essence of the European Project
In these troubled times for the European Union; it is no easy matter for it to present itself as a new paradigm of global governance. Yet the European construction is one of the most ambitious experiments to date in supranational governance, and the way Europe has coped with the sort of challenges I’ve just outlined is a useful reminder that defined and organised inter-dependency among nation states is perfectly possible. The building of Europe is a work in progress, and the European paradigm is itself very specific to the conditions and pressures that prevail in Europe. Our continent was ravaged by two world wars and by the holocaust, leaving millions of men and women dead and many more millions in search of peace, stability and prosperity. One should therefore be cautious about ascribing universal values to what so far has only been a part of our European world. Other paradigms emerging elsewhere in the world reflect different conditions elsewhere. At the heart of the European project has been the creation of a space of pooled sovereignty, a space in which the EU’s members agree to govern among themselves without having permanent recourse to international treaties. The essence of the European governance paradigm is the coming together of national political wills to act together in the framework of a common project and an institutional set-up that can make it work. It’s the combination of these three elements rather than just the governance methods used.
There is also the fact that Community law takes precedence over national law, and then there’s a supranational body like the European Commission that has been given the monopoly of initiating legislation. There is also the EU’s Court of Justice whose decisions are binding on national judges, and a parliament composed of a “senate” of member states, the council of ministers, and a “house of representatives” elected by the European demos, the European Parliament.
Europe still has a chance to break even
Taken together, these are the things that make the European Union a radically new economic and political entity when it comes to international governance. But today’s EU could never be the product of these innovations alone. Indispensable they may be, but all these institutional innovations stem from conductive political; it is agreement on the substance that permits agreement on the form. I believe that the construction of the EU internal market, the European Monetary Union and trade policy are all areas where European integration has scored above average. The fact that the European Union numbers 27 member states and around 500m citizens, represents over a quarter of world trade and accounts for the world’s largest GDP - and on trade speaks with one voice - gives Europe the capacity to defend its vision of trade opening accompanied by rules. On the environment, Europe has played a global leadership role that reflects the large consensus existing within the EU on the need to protect and preserve the environment. Yet the institutional set-up within which Europe acts, the mixed competences and different voices, prevent Europe from being as effective in this area as it might, with the recent climate change summit in Copenhagen a warning. But it’s an area where Europe still has a chance to break even.
In my view there are two other areas where Europe is not punching its weight in the world. On development aid, the EU is the world’s largest donor and its flag can be seen at almost every major humanitarian crisis. Europe’s aid effort is backed by strong public support, with some 72% of Europeans polled recently in favour of honouring or going beyond aid commitments to the developing world. And yet for all that Europe has so far had only a limited influence on setting world development policies.
The second problem area is the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The good news is that European citizens demand more and better foreign policies from Europe. But this also touches on one of the areas where symbolic barriers - those of dreams and nightmares, of collective identities and myths - remain powerful. It’s why I think that building a European foreign and security policy requires a permanent compromise between interests and values. The EU’s new High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, a Vice-President of the European Commission who now chairs the General Affairs Council is a step in the right direction. But it will also take a common will to act together and a common concept, a sort of shared project, to get there.
Three States of Mass
There are a number of lessons that we can draw from more than 60 years of European integration.
The first is that institutions alone cannot do the trick. Neither can political will without a clearly defined common project. Nor can a well thought through common project deliver results if there is no institutional machinery. The reality is that we need the three elements together to create an integration dynamic.
Even if these three elements are present there is a risk that a real or perceived legitimacy problem remains, creating a glass ceiling for further integration. The reality is that supranational institutions like the European Union require a long-term investment that is often incompatible with the short-term attention span of many of its leaders, who are often elected on thin majorities or with fragile coalitions. Global legitimacy requires long-term care and attention.
Governance systems can be likened to the three states of mass. The national level represents the solid state, the international system is more like gaseous mass and in-between these lies the European integration process as a kind of liquid state. But whatever the state of the mass, to make a governance system work demands a combination of political will, capacity to decide and accountability. In this respect, European integration offers some useful lessons for global governance.
Having learned its lessons
Lesson one is the importance of the rule of law and of enforceable commitments. Global governance has to be anchored in stakeholders’ commitments and in rules and regulations with mechanisms that deserve respect. This is at the heart of the post-war multilateral trading system, which has developed over 60 years of trade regulation among nations and has a binding dispute settlement system to ensure compliance with its rules.
It’s also at the heart of what the international community is trying to do on climate change - achieve a multilateral deal where nations commit to emissions reduction accompanied by measures to facilitate adaptation and mitigation. And it is what the international community is striving to achieve on nuclear non-proliferation. It is true, too, for the regulation of finance, as the financial crisis so clearly demonstrated.
Commitments that are anchored in a multilateral context, and that can be monitored accordingly, allow for greater efficiency and coherence.
The second lesson for global governance is respect for the principle of subsidiarity; the international system should not be overburdened with issues better dealt with at the local, regional or national level.
The third lesson is that “coherence starts at home” because it lies first and foremost with the members of international organisations. Take the United Nations; we can and must have the “UN Delivering as One”, but we also have to see “UN members behaving as One” in the different organisations that make up the United Nations family.
A Triangle of Coherence
The last of these lessons is that since the political demos remains essentially national, the legitimacy of global governance would be greatly enhanced if international issues become part of domestic political debates. National governments need to be held accountable by their voters for their international level behaviour. Democracy at the national level has to have more of an international dimension to foster legitimacy at the global level. The fact that the governments which represent states in international organisations are the result of citizens’ choices through domestic elections is not in itself enough to ensure those international organisations’ legitimacy. More is needed, so national actors - whether political parties, civil society, parliaments or citizens - must ensure that global level issues are discussed.
The good news is that many of these issues are already work in progress, so we need not expect a big bang. The global economic crisis has accelerated the move towards a new architecture of global governance in what I think of as the “triangle of coherence”. On one side of the triangle lies the G20, replacing the former G8 to provide political leadership and policy direction. On another side lie the member-driven international organisations that provide expertise and specialised inputs such as rules, policies and programmes. The third side of the triangle is the G192, the United Nations that is the global forum for accountability.
New Global Economic Contract
In the longer term, we should have both the G20 and the international agencies reporting to the “parliament” of the United Nations. A revamping of the UN’s Economic and Social Council could lend support to the recent resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on a UN-wide coherence system. This would constitute a potent mix of leadership, inclusiveness and action to ensure coherent and effective global governance. With time, the G20 could even be an answer to reforming the UN Security Council.
A structure of this type needs to be underpinned by core principles and values, and this is precisely what Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed with the creation of a Charter for Sustainable Economic Activity. It is a commendable effort to provide a “new global economic contract” that would anchor economic globalisation on a bedrock of ethical principles and values, and so renew citizens’ trust that globalisation can work for them.
Globalisation poses a serious challenge for our democracies, and our governance systems must respond to that. If our citizens feel that global problems are insoluble, that will risk emasculating our democracies. The same will hold true if our citizens see that global problems can be addressed, but that they themselves have no influence on the result.
Our governance systems must more than ever offer citizens avenues for shaping the tomorrow’s world they want their children to inherit. And the European Union remains the laboratory of international governance, a place where the new technological frontiers of international governance are being tested.
More land, fewer Arabs
Israel separates Arabs from Jews, Palestinian towns and villages from one another, it splits streets and quarters within one town.
Plato´s influence on Christian thinking
Greek philosophy leads care for soul in theoretical way of life, the way of viewing and asking questions. Christian message opens care for soul in the context of our temporal life.
Sultan Saladin´s Trap
Rainald of Châtillon, a radical and aggressive crusader, plundered Christian Cyprus, did not show respect to any treaty of peace, attacked Muslim’s caravans and kidnapped Saladin’s sister.
She has never wanted to be an actress
“If one feels to be a Slovak, he can prove it by educating himself, getting to know traditions and history of his nation, he praises Slovak language and esteems Slovak culture as such,” says Professor Emília Vášáryová.
Writers praise Anton Bernolák
Trnava welcomed writers from all over Slovakia again. 160 authors of poems and prose from the whole country took part in the competition.
Every day he walks on silver from Chile
Jozef Štibrányi, the first Slovak who scored at the World Cup, talks about his memories about the football championship held in the year 1962.
Project Painted Equator
If people want to express and share the same ideas, to demonstrate or protest for or against something, they often create a human chain with their arms linked. Holding our hands, they surround the whole streets, squares, cities. Our human chain with linked arms will be 40,075 kilometres long, it is exactly as much as our planet has in the area of the equator and it will go across every country in the world. The idea of the project is based on creating a symbolic human chain around the entire globe, which is supposed to initiate positive thinking and thus contribute to the formation of the global social consciousness of positive thinking and friendship among nations. However, the realization of this project is based on painting and gathering 40,075 pieces of pictures with the size of 20 x 20 cm in Slovakia. Pictures will be painted by artists and personalities from all over the world and every country in the world.
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