from the DCM
Havel Meets with First Lady Laura Bush in Prague
on Cooperation Between the Czech Republic and Czech-
Attracts Many Participants and Generates Interesting Ideas
Statue to be Placed on Massachusetts Avenue
International Azalea Festival
Legacy in Philadelphia
Alliance With a Future
by Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, at the Inaugural Session
of the NATO-Russia Council
on Human Rights in Cuba Approved
Trade with the United States in 2001
Low-cost airlines take off on Prague routes
InWest Central Europe
Hotels seeks room for expansion in region, starting with Slovakia
A second Italian bank, Sanpaolo-IMI, confirms its interest making a bid for Zivnostenska Banka.
Privatisation of Telecom postponed
Prague in and out of the Classroom
International Youth Leadership Conference
Republic hosts a world-class Chess Tournament
World Congress in Plzen, Czech Republic
profile: Anna Monhartova
at the Embassy
Message from the DCM
As the summer sets in, my time as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Washington, D.C. is slowly drawing to an end. My family and I will be leaving for the Czech Republic at the end of June. We will be taking with us far more than just the memories of five years of our lives spent in America, or stories to tell back home: Our children attended school here, English became their other language, and we have all found our second home in the U.S.
During my years in Washington, I had the honor to serve under Ambassador Alexandr Vondra, who is now the Government Commissioner for the Preparation of the NATO Summit in Prague. In the last nine months, I served as Deputy Chief of Mission to Ambassador Martin Palous, former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic in Prague. Under these able ambassadors, I have seen the Presidencies of William Clinton and George W. Bush.
Without any exaggeration, I can say that I consider the last five years to be among the most exciting ones in my career. Three years ago, the Czech Republic became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and we now enjoy an unprecedented security within the most powerful military and political Alliance in the world. This historical event, perhaps the most significant one for the Czech nation in the last fifty years, gave my country a guarantee that parents' generation lacked when faced with the Nazi aggression and the subsequent Soviet domination.
At the same time, recent events show that the struggle for the security of democratic nations is far from over. I have witnessed the attacks of September 11, and the Embassy itself went through tense moments last fall, when the post office serving our chancery was discovered to be contaminated by Anthrax. I believe this experience will help me to work even harder on strengthening the ties between the Czech Republic and the United States in my new assignment at the Foreign Ministry in Prague.
As I leave my post in Washington, I will pass my agenda to the new Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Vratislav Janda, to whom I wish the best of luck in his endeavors. Finally, I would like to thank all of the people, both Czech and American, who gave me their help, advice, and friendship in the past five years.
President Havel Meets with First Lady Laura Bush in Prague
In late May, First Lady Laura Bush set out on a nine-day, three-country tour of Europe that included five days in the Czech Republic, where she met President Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar Havlova. While in Prague, the U.S. First Lady addressed the people of Afghanistan through the airwaves of Radio Free Europe and received a tour of Prague Castle, the Old Royal Palace, and St. Vitus Cathedral.
NATO issues, current and upcoming world affairs were discussed during the official half-hour meeting with President Havel, which was also Mrs. Bush's first major public duty in Prague.
On Monday, May 20, Mrs. Bush attended a dinner with Dagmar Havlova and President Havel, whose life as a playwright and later as president, Mrs. Bush called "symbolic of the opening of Central Europe after Communism."
Within her stay in the Czech Republic, Mrs. Bush also visited the former Nazi concentration camp in Terezin (Theresienstadt), where she joined representatives from 25 other nations for a ceremony commemorating the liberation of Terezin in 1945.
The First Lady also met with Vaclav Klaus, Chairman of the Parliament's Lower House, with whom she discussed current affairs in the Czech Republic.
Prime Minister Milos Zeman assured Laura Bush that the Czech Republic would support the USA in the fight against world terrorism. The Zeman-Bush meeting in the residence of the U.S. ambassador, Mr. Craig Stapleton was also attended by Zeman's wife Ivana. The meeting was preceded by a reception attended by almost 200 guests, including Czech government members, Senate chairman Petr Pithart, deputies, senators, Czech diplomats and diplomats from Prague-seated foreign embassies.
Also while in Prague, Mrs. Bush rallied support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan through a 13-minute address aired by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, in which she urged Afghan women to participate in the rebuilding of their war-torn country by sending their children to school and taking part in the new government.
Apart from official meetings, there was also some time left for sightseeing - Mrs. Bush, who was accompanied by her daughter Jenna, visited the Staronova (Old-New) synagogue, which was built in the 1200's, as well as the Jewish cemetery with its famous headstones, Strahov Monastery, the Church of Our Lady the Victorious, and other attractions throughout Prague.
their trip to France, Hungary and the Czech Republic, Laura Bush and her
daughter Jenna continued on to Berlin, where they joined President George
Bush on his official trip to Germany, France, Russia and Italy.
Conference on Cooperation Between the Czech Republic and Czech-Americans Attracts Many Participants and Generates Interesting Ideas
The Czech Embassy in Washington recently hosted a two-day conference entitled "The Czech Republic and Czech Americans - Mutual Ties and Joint Partnership." The gathering's main theme was focused on a discussion regarding strengthening ties and enhancing cooperation between the Czech Republic and Czech Americans.
The conference took place on the premises of the Embassy in Washington, D.C. on May 17 and 18, 2002. The Embassy hosted 62 representatives of the Czech-American community in the USA, who came from 15 different states across the Union.
The event informally began with a reception on Friday, May 17 at the Embassy. The official opening of the conference on Saturday morning, May 18, was attended by Mr. Martin Palous, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the USA. The Ambassador greeted the participants and commenced the conference with introductory remarks. In his optimistic opening speech, Ambassador Palous emphasized the importance of relations between the Czech Republic and Czechs living abroad. Mr. Palous pointed out the cooperation between the Embassy and Czech-Americans, citing its usefulness in building and enhancing Czech-American relations.
The three panel discussions focused on politics, lobbying, and media, culture and education, and naturally, business and trade.
The Embassy's Deputy Chief of Mission, Dr. Antonin Hradilek, emphasized the important role Czech-Americans, namely The American Friends of the Czech Republic, have played thus far in strengthening Czech-American relations.
Mr. Milton Cerny, President of The American Friends of the Czech Republic, informed the audience about the current status of the "Masaryk statue" project (please see other articles in this and previous issues of CTN) and he asked the participants of the conference for their cooperation in fund-raising for the statue, scheduled to be unveiled during President Vaclav Havel's state visit in September of this year.
Mr. Petr Gandalovic, Consul General of the Czech Republic in New York, informed the participants about plans for the reconstruction and future use of the Bohemian Hall in New York. The building, among other purposes, shall serve the Czech-American community, who are welcome to participate in its use.
Mr. Daniel Baldwin, the departing Director of the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, informed the participants about his institution's activities and expressed his appreciation for the support he has received from the Czech government. Mr. Baldwin has done a great deal of work while leading the Museum and we would like to thank him and wish him luck in his new assignment.
Additional contributions were made by other Embassy officials, including Mr. Marcel Sauer, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy regarding the Embassy's cultural agenda, as well as by the Science Secretary, Mr. Jakub Skalnik, on cooperation between Czech and U.S. educational institutions and last, but not least, by the Economic Counselor, Mr. Jiri Kulis, whose remarks focused on economic issues and prospects for future enhancement in Czech-U.S. economic relations.
The ensuing discussion, rich in topics as well as participants, included remarks made by Professor Mojmir Povolny, President/Chairman of the Czech and Slovak Solidarity Council, historian Professor Radomir Luza, Professor Jan Kmenta (University of Michigan), Mr. Petr Bísek, publisher of Americke listy, Professor Ivo Feierabend (San Diego University), Mr. Robert Doubek and Mr. Phil Kasik (members of the Board of Directors of The American Friends of the Czech Republic), Mr. Jan Pokorny, Chairman/President of The Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, Mr. Miloslav Rechcigl, President of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Jan Krondl, publisher of Ceskoslovenske noviny, and many others.
In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Palous thanked the participants of the conference for their active role throughout the gathering and labeled the day as a good basis for future dialog.
conference, which is the third of its kind (preceded by two gatherings
of a similar nature organized by Ambassador Michael Zantovsky in 1994
and Ambassador Alexandr Vondra in 1997), definitely created a fresh impetus
for further co-operation and exchange of ideas between the Czech Embassy
and Czechs living in the USA.
Masaryk Statue to be Placed on Massachusetts Avenue
A bronze statue of Tomas G. Masaryk, the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, will find a home in Washington, DC this fall. The 12-foot statue, a gift from the Czech Republic to the United States, will be placed in a park at Massachusetts Avenue and 22nd Street NW. The statue will be the centerpiece of an area that will be called „Masaryk Park."
The statue was created in 1937, but has never been exhibited in Masaryk's native land. The writings, ideas, and even images of Masaryk were prohibited under both the Nazi occupation and the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Both regimes feared the power of Masaryk's fierce commitment to democracy, liberty, and truth. Hence, it is only fitting that the statue will finally find a permanent home in the country that inspired Masaryk's love of democracy and in the city where he wrote the Declaration of Czech Independence from Austria.
President Bush and Czech President Vaclav Havel will honor the memory
of Masaryk and the triumph of democracy when they unveil the statue of
Masaryk in a special joint presidential ceremony in Washington.
Norfolk's International Azalea Festival
Every April, when the azaleas are in full bloom, the citizens of Norfolk, Virginia roll out the red carpet to honor the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) with a week-long celebration known as Norfolk's International Azalea Festival.
The mission of the Azalea Festival is to recognize the importance to Norfolk, America and the world, NATO in specific and the local military community in general. The festival's purpose is to create and strengthen friendships, provide and enhance cultural exchange and focus greater public awareness on this international community that brings peace to the world, ensures safe trade routes between nations and inspires cultural, scientific and military development.
The rich tradition of the International Azalea Festival began in 1953, just one year after the establishment of NATO's Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT) in Norfolk, VA. In that year, the citizens of Norfolk organized a salute to these allied forces in order to create new friendships, provide a basis for cultural exchange, recognize the military's role in maintaining peace in the world and pursue new lines of trade between Norfolk and the world.
In the years since its inception, the International Azalea Festival has developed into a festival filled with events that are annually attended by over 250,000 people. To plan and execute festival activities, a dedicated group of civic-minded businessmen and women contribute over 10,000 hours of volunteer labor to produce what is now one of the most important international civic celebrations in the United States. Norfolk's International Azalea Festival has repeatedly been awarded the honor of one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary since joining the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) and the 20th anniversary of their first selection as Most Honored Nation, Greece has again been selected to be honored during this year's 49th annual International Azalea Festival which took place in April 22-28, 2002. Visitors were treated to a kaleidoscope of activity which included: the Parade of Nations, NATO Fest (in which the Czech Republic was represented by exhibition stand well arranged by the ACR Officer, currently serving as ACLANT HQ Staff member, LTC Milan Novotny) and also annual Strong Man Challenge, Art Exhibits, the Virginia International Tattoo, the Coronation of Queen Azalea and Her Court, the Queen's Dinner and Ball and a spectacular Air Show.
Each of the 19 NATO - member nations was represented by a float and a marching band. The parade also featured many of the local fan favorites, including several equestrian units, bands and automobiles. Finally, Queen Azalea 2002, Greece's Ms. Anna Ipsilanti and her escort rode in a horse-drawn carriage as she made her way through downtown Norfolk on the way to Norfolk Botanical Garden - chosen location for the Coronation. The Czech Republic was represented by Miss Katerina Weese, 17-year-old Czech student.
While simultaneously paying tribute to Greece, this year's Most Honored Nation, the parade committee had selected "Honoring Hometown Heroes," as its theme. The audience all along the parade route had also the opportunity to honor the local Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Team Two and area police officers who participated in rescue efforts following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
21-27, 2003 this gala event, Norfolk's oldest and grandest, will celebrate
all of NATO's member nations in a special 50th anniversary tribute. The
USA has been selected as the Most Honored Nation.
by Major General Rostislav Kotil - CZE DATT/ National Liaison Representative
TGM Legacy in Philadelphia
The legacy of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the founding President of the First Czechoslovak State, will be expanded in the near future in the form of a Pennsylvania Historical Marker, which was recently approved by the Historical and Museum Commission of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Masaryk, the son of a Slovak father and Czech mother, arrived in Philadelphia with his colleagues in October 1918, as Chairman of the Mid-European Union. On October 26th, 1918 he stood in front of Independence Hall and read to a large gathering a document called "The Proclamation of Common Aims." In 1998, on the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, the street leading to the hotel where Masaryk and his group stayed was renamed "Masaryk Place." The new marker will be placed in Independence Mall West, also known as South 6th Street, in Philadelphia.
The dedication will take place on July 23, 2002 at 3 p.m. and will be followed by a reception.
Peter A. Rafaeli, Hon. Consul General of the Czech Republic-Philadelphia
article entitled "An Alliance with a Future" by President Vaclav
Havel of the Czech Republic was published at the end of May in the Washington
Post, and later re-printed by the International Herald Tribune under the
title "The Alliance continues to play an irreplaceable role".
Below is a full version of the article as it appeared in the Washington
An Alliance With a Future
Vaclav H a v e l
A long time ago, when I was part of the opposition to Communist dictatorship, I thought that if the Iron Curtain ever fell, communism collapsed and the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, NATO would also lose its raison d'etre as a principal tool of the policy of "containment." But once the Iron Curtain did indeed begin to fall, and I entered practical politics, I soon realized how naive I had been and how important was NATO's continued existence.
In fact, I came to feel that NATO had just arrived at its great historic test: Whether it would have the courage to embrace new European democracies and thus prove its genuine commitment to protecting the values it was called upon to defend at its founding. The alternative would be to show that it lacked that courage and was still rigidly entrenched in its Cold War ways -- unwilling to be involved in creating a new world order.
But it seems that many of those who were, in the late 1980s and early '90s, the most fervent advocates of NATO's continued existence now wonder whether it has outlived its purpose. Conversely, many who doubted that the Alliance would be meaningful in the future are now among its greatest defenders.
I am among those who sincerely believe the Alliance does have an irreplaceable role, now and likely in the future. And the deeper NATO goes in reflecting on its role, the more significant that role will be. Indeed, there are signs that we are coming to an era in which NATO must ponder its future thoroughly and then act quickly to translate its vision into a number of specific and audacious steps.
First and foremost, NATO will probably have to redefine itself and once again describe its position in today's world. NATO is known to have a cultural, historical, "value-based" -- in more lofty terms, "civilizational" -- identity alongside its geographic and strategic identity. Its membership is composed of democratic countries located in the Euro-Atlantic area, in what is referred to as "the West." Let me illustrate: No one would think of inviting New Zealand to join NATO, as close as its values and culture are to the NATO world, simply because New Zealand belongs to a different geographic space.
Conversely, it would make no sense to consider Russia for membership in NATO, even though its location and civilization are not far distant from the West. That is because, for various historical and geographic reasons, Russia is a world in itself. It is as large as all NATO members put together -- a huge Eurasian empire with which we must enjoy the best possible partnership. And it is such a clearly independent part of today's world that its only relationship with NATO can and will be that of a separate entity.
If the future world order is really to defend peace and secure the survival of humankind, it will have to be based on equal and close cooperation among several regions. Such cooperation is possible only if these individual entities succeed in defining themselves -- which requires, among other things, an understanding of where they begin and end. Many conflicts have been caused by insecure self-identification that leads to a blurred concept of one's "outer limits" and to diverging views of "spheres of interest."
In order to redefine itself, NATO will have to do two things: First, the Alliance must arrive at a new and unequivocal definition of its approach to other parts of the planet, infuse such an approach with the spirit of absolute equality, and begin to deepen it by institutional as well as practical cooperation. NATO is attempting to change the quality of its relations with Russia, which is certainly worthwhile; but, in doing so, it must not raise even a shadow of suspicion that the more affluent northern hemisphere is somehow ganging up on the other parts of the world and thus widening the gap that divides it from the southern part of the globe. It is for this reason -- but certainly not only for this reason -- that NATO must build its relations with China, India, Africa and other parts of the world.
Second, NATO must, in its own interest, open its doors to new European democracies, while at the same time setting a limit on its possible future enlargement. Otherwise, no future enlargement will make sense. (All the Balkan countries and all the "neutral European democracies" are undoubtedly considered possible candidates for future membership.) Saying that drawing such a borderline will create a new Iron Curtain means being mired in a Cold-War world, in which the only conceivable border is the one that separates us from our enemies and, therefore, has to be barb-wired.
In addition, NATO will have to significantly accelerate its internal transformation. Sept. 11 has, one hopes, made everyone understand that the single powerful and clearly situated strategic enemy of the past, "the Evil Empire," has long since been replaced by what is perhaps an even more dangerous enemy: a dispersed evil that is sophisticated yet hard to grasp, whose empire, focal point or axis I would dare not identify (though some regimes certainly serve evil more than others).
What specifically will such a transformation mean? Smaller but highly mobile, robust and technologically advanced armed forces, highly specialized and capable of immediate cooperation on various missions. And, as important, well-coordinated development of intelligence, research and civil defense for the protection of people and property.
The final issue NATO needs now to consider in all seriousness is the fact that it stands on two feet -- one European and one American. Given the advances in European integration, the Alliance must say very clearly how it proposes to resolve the issue -- whether to come down on one foot or the other or both -- and thus make clear how it proposes to move ahead.
The Alliance will likely discuss all these issues at its November summit in Prague. The Czech Republic feels a great sense of honor and responsibility to have been asked to host debates on issues of such significance in its capital, a city in which, coincidentally, I had the pleasure of announcing the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact 11 years ago. I trust that apart from offering membership to several European countries, including the three Baltic republics -- thus symbolically closing once and forever the era of superpower pacts dividing the world -- NATO will achieve first and foremost significant progress in its self-assessment.
I hope NATO
will confirm, in clear terms, its willingness to work with Russia and
other large and important entities in today's world as equal partners.
May it demonstrate, by concrete decisions, its commitment to face the
strange and insidious dangers that threaten the world.
NATO - Russia summit, which took place on May 28, 2002 at Pratica di Mare
military base near Rome, the leaders of NATO member states and Russia
signed a declaration on the establishment of the NATO- Russia Council
which is expected to ensure a new quality of relations between NATO and
Moscow. Below is a full text of President Havel´s remarks in Italy.
Address by Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, at the Inaugural Session of the NATO-Russia Council
Pratica di Mare, Italy
28 May 2002
Ladies and gentlemen,
I consider it most auspicious and significant that our meeting today marks the beginning of a qualitatively new era of cooperation between NATO and the Russian Federation. May this cooperation be not merely a formal relationship or a matter of politeness, but a genuine, practical collaboration focusing precisely on those specific tasks for which it is useful to seek solutions jointly and mutually.
I believe that if the present planetary civilization is to succeed in averting the various major threats looming over it as a result of its amazing, but somewhat one-sided development, all the major entities of today's world must work closely together as equal partners.
Therefore, just as NATO, or the part of the world encompassed within NATO, is now deepening its relations with the Russian Federation, the Alliance should soon begin to deepen its relations with the other large entities of the contemporary world as well. For example, it would be quite unfortunate if the partnership we have established today created the impression that the more affluent northern hemisphere is uniting at the expense of the southern hemisphere. One way or another, the entire planet should move toward unity. All inhabitants of the Earth desire to live in peace, freedom and prosperity. Differences between cultures or spheres of civilization should be interpreted as an impulse to promote better knowledge of one another, more profound understanding and greater mutual respect, and not as a reason for enmity or even as a pretext for confrontation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The next regular, long-planned NATO meeting, being prepared by the Czech Republic with great care, will be held in Prague this coming November. My country's capital city will be visited, I hope, not only by all of you, but also by many other participants representing our numerous partner states. It is my firm belief that this forthcoming summit will not only confirm the new role of the Alliance in the new millennium, but will also bear witness to the practical effectiveness of our newly-initiated relationship with Russia, and also to NATO's commitment to gradually building and intensifying its relations with all the other parts of the present-day world.
originally founded as a response to my country's subjugation by Stalin.
May its Summit Meeting in Prague manifest to the whole world, once and
for all, that the time of subjugation is over and an era of worldwide
cooperation has begun!
Resolution on Human Rights in Cuba Approved
On April 19, 2002 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights approved a resolution concerning the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. The resolution „invites" Cuba to respect civil and political rights and to allow a U.N. human rights monitor to visit the island, an idea communist officials have rejected.
Out of the 53 member states of the Human Rights Commission, 23 voted in favor of the resolution, 21 against it, and 9 countries abstained. The resolution was sponsored by Uruguay; however, it has been sponsored by the Czech Republic over the last three years. The resolution was supported by the majority of the Latin American countries on the Commission, as well as the United States and European countries.
with this event, the Czech Embassy and the Center for a Free Cuba hosted
a screening of the documentary Czech film about Cuba, „Voices from the
Island of Freedom," at the Embassy on April 26. The event also included
a presentation by Mr. Simon Panek, Director of Humanitarian Projects for
the „People in Need Foundation" in Prague, as well as remarks by H.E.
Martin Palous, Ambassador of the Czech Republic, and a leading Cuban dissident
living in US exile, Mr. Frank Calzon.
USA supports wide enlargement of NATO - Grossman
April 18: The wide-scale NATO enlargement is supported by USA. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Marc Grossman said after talks with Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka.
that it was impossible to say now how many of the nine candidate countries
would be invited to join the alliance at the NATO Prague summit in November.
Telicka and Grossman stressed that candidates must meet the criteria of
membership and called on them not to ease their efforts.
Senate gives green light to hospital for Afghanistan
The Senate agreed to send the 6th army hospital to Afghanistan. The first
troops will arrive in Kabul at the end of April. The army doctors are
to work in Kabul as part of the ISAF international peace-keeping mission.
Tvrdik, Stank visit Czech-Slovak KFOR unit
Czech and Slovak Defence Ministers, Jaroslav Tvrdik and Jozef Stank, visited
the joint Czech-Slovak battalion in the KFOR mission. Tvrdik told the
soldiers that the idea of curbing the number of the troops was ruled out.
Stank appreciated the speed with which the Czech-Slovak battalion started
operating. The unit started to fulfil its operation task within the British
Center division on March 1st. The Czech and Slovak troops have
been responsible for an area of 435 square kilometers and 90 kilometers
of the Kosovo-Serbian border since the beginning of April. The unit is
composed of 400 Czech and 100 Slovak soldiers.
President Havel signs small-business law
President Vaclav Havel signed a small-business law, which simplifies the
steps owners of small businesses have to take to get a business licence.
Government gives go-ahead to professional army
The Czech army must be professionalized by 2007 according to a plan reviewed
by the cabinet. Premier Milos Zeman told journalists after a cabinet meeting,
also attended by President Vaclav Havel. The concept is likely to be discussed
again by the new cabinet which will emerge from the June elections.
Government finds money for Kuwait mission
The Czech chemical warfare unit in Kuwait will be funded from the public
budget, as the government will give 580 million Czech crowns from the
General Cash Administration for the "Enduring Freedom" operation.
Army to have CZK 4 billion for missions after 2006
The new military strategy of the Czech Republic, approved by the government,
requests three and a half to four billion Czech crowns a year for foreign
peace-keeping missions after 2006. The military strategy newly defines
the Czech Republic's military and political ambitions. The strategy presumes
that the defense of NATO countries and the Czech Republic will take place
outside of their territory. This is why the Czech Republic must be able
to deploy a brigade of up to 5,000 men for six months for a single peace-keeping
Army considers forming U.N. peacekeeping missions unit - Tvrdik
May 3: The Defence Ministry is considering earmarking several hundred infantrymen for U.N. peacekeeping units. Presently, Czech soldiers operate in a joint Czech-Slovak battalion in NATO's KFOR mission in Kosovo, a chemical unit participates in the Enduring Freedom anti-terrorism operation in Kuwait, and the 6th field hospital is currently being moved to Afghanistan to join the ISAF peacekeeping forces.
Senate passes foreigner bill as preparation for Schengen entry
May 3: The
Senate passed a draft amendment to the foreigner law which facilitates
the Czech Republic's joining the EU's Schengen system after its expected
EU accession. Under the Schengen system, there are no checks at the EU's
inner borders. After the Czech Republic's EU entry, its customs policy
towards EU citizens as well as third countries' citizens will be determined
by the Schengen system regulations. The new bill therefore anchors Schengen
visas for citizens from „non- Schengen" countries. The Czech Republic's
EU entry will not yet automatically mean its joining the Schengen system.
Ensuring the protection of the EU's outer borders is technically very
demanding, therefore the EU's new members will probably join Schengen
two years after their EU entry, or in 2005 at the earliest.
Chamber passes bill on financing the Afghan mission
May 7: The
Chamber of Deputies passed a bill on issuance of bonds worth 600 million
crowns (USD 18 million) for the financing of the deployment of the Czech
army hospital in Afghanistan. The 6th field hospital is already in Afghanistan
and provides services to members of the international peace- keeping force
as well as to civilians.
Per capita GDP of Czech Republic, EU to converge slowly
May 10: The economic level of the Czech Republic measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita will get from the current 60 pct to 70 pct of the average level of the 15-member European Union in the years 2008-2010. The study counts on the Czech Republic's ability to maintain its GDP growth by 1.2-1.8 percentage points above that of the EU and on the fact that labor productivity will grow faster in the Czech Republic than in the EU.
Zeman assures Laura Bush of Czech support in fighting terrorism
May 21: Czech Premier Milos Zeman assured Laura Bush that the Czech Republic would support the USA in the fight against world terrorism. Mrs. Bush thanked for the Czech Republic's stand. She expressed admiration for the beauties of Prague and the vitality which the Czech nation showed after the political changes in 1989. The Zeman-Bush meeting was also attended by Zeman's wife Ivana and U.S. Ambassador Craig Stapleton. The meeting was preceded by a reception attended, apart from Mrs Bush, by about 170 guests, including Czech government members, Senate chairman Petr Pithart, deputies, senators, Czech diplomats and diplomats from Prague-seated foreign embassies.
Mrs. Bush concludes visit to Czech Republic, departs for Berlin
May 22: The First Lady of the United States of America Laura Bush concluded her five-day visit to the Czech Republic. After leaving Prague, she met her husband, President George W. Bush, in Berlin and accompanied him on his official visits to Germany, France, Russia and Italy. During her visit, Mrs. Bush met with Czech President Vaclav Havel, attended a memorial ceremony at the site of the former Terezin Nazi concentration camp, toured the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) headquarters in downtown Prague, spoke to the Afghan people directly by way of RFE/RL's Afghan broadcasts, and attended various cultural events (for more detailed information on the visit please see the article on the front page).
Havel supports Cuban dissidents' referendum request
May 23: Czech
President Vaclav Havel has sent a letter to Cuban dissidents, supporting
their demand for a referendum on democratic changes in Cuba. "The news
about the Project Varela petition...enhances my conviction that ideals
of democracy and human rights enjoy growing support in your country,"
said President Havel. The petition, signed by more than 11,000 Cubans,
was conveyed to the Havana parliament by the local opposition on May 10.
It proposes that a referendum be held on whether Cubans want the introduction
of human rights such as freedom of speech, amnesty for political prisoners,
the right to run private businesses and others.
Russia realizes NATO will enlarge in Prague - Havel
May 28: Russia has come to realize that NATO will enlarge at its Prague summit and that the three Baltic countries - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia - will most likely be among its new members, Czech President Vaclav Havel said. "I think that Russia and especially its president (Vladimir Putin) understand this and have come to terms with it," said Vaclav Havel who met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during the NATO-Russia summit in Italy.
Senate approves funding of Afghan mission
May 31: The
mission of the 6th field hospital in Afghanistan will be paid by government
bonds, worth 600 million crowns (USD 18 milllion). The Senate thus supported
a government-sponsored bill allowing the issuing of the bonds. The two
hundred doctors and relevant health personnel in Kabul are operating as
part of the ISAF international peace-keeping forces. They help both soldiers
and local civilians. The hospital started operating on May 20.
"Our field hospital is not a combat unit, but it is taking part in the
humanitarian operation in a country ravaged by a civil war for almost
30 years," Defense Minister Tvrdik said.
InWest Central Europe
On May 30, 2002, "InWest Central Europe", a forum on business environment in the newly emerged economies of Central Europe took place in Washington, D.C. About 150 participants had the opportunity to compare the current state of the national economies, the government investment incentives on offer, the accession progress of the EU candidate countries of Central Europe and also the business climate in Austria.
Austria´s participation underscored the geographical and political reality in the region. The term "Central Europe" should be referred correctly to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, all applying for EU membership, along with Austria, a Central European country that was fortunate not to experience four decades of communism.
In his remarks, Mr Jay Burgess, Director Central & Eastern European Division, US Department of Commerce, endorsed the advantages of full EU membership of the Czech Republic and other countries of the region for U.S. business interests as enlarged single market, equal business conditions, market access for U.S. goods, all equal to that in the current EU member states.
On top of the general economic agenda, workshops on engineering and defense industry, biotechnology, information technologies and telecommunications characterized features and opportunities in those sectors.
Advancement of investment projects by US companies in manufacturing and services in the Czech Republic and the Czech investment incentives scheme were presented by CzechInvest´s representative, Chicago office, Ms Hana Lasslerova.
Ms Xenia Svobodova, Managing Director, IQA, a Prague based biotech firm, described biotechnological research and drugs manufacturing as a sector with high growth potential, mainly due to adequate number of university graduates available in the Czech Republic and tradition in research.
highlighted the historical uniqueness of the pre-accession period for
foreign investment projects in manufacturing and services due to significant
comparative economic advantages available in the region.
Trade with the United States in 2001
In 2001 Czech
exports to United States totaled 1.118 bill. US dollars, confirming the
trend of dynamic increase over the last decade. Industrial machinery,
electrical machinery, office machines and computer parts contributed to
over 30% of Czech exports. Volumes of some new export items such as electrical
capacitors, electrical switches, telephone and telecommunication equipment
reflected weak US demand in high tech manufacturing during 2001.
The most noticeable imports from the Czech Republic recently are:
from the CR in volume between 10 - 20 mil. US dollars belong toys &
sports equipment, optical equipment and microscopes, musical instruments,
textiles, headgear and shoes, arms and ammunition, beer.
Low-cost airlines take off on Prague routes
Two new no-frills
airlines have launched services on the Czech market ahead of the peak
summer season, putting pressure on Go, the first low-cost carrier, and
existing scheduled airlines. Slovak airline SkyEurope, is due to launch
its route between Prague and Bratislava on May 15 and says it is breaking
new records with its fares.The Slovak carrier joins fellow start-up, BMI-baby,
which launched flights between Prague and Nottingham, in the British Midlands,
for a minimum price of L25 (Kc 1,500) on March 22. Booking three months
in advance is required to qualify for such low fares. BMIbaby, a subsidiary
of British Midlands, monitored the airline market between the Czech Republic
and Britain for a month before it was sure there was a niche market in
flights from central England to Prague. Rival Go flies from London's Stansted
airport. Faced with such intense competition, BMIbaby is only targeting
a small part of the Anglo-Czech market. It has also been helped by a Czech
government policy, which seems friendlier to new airlines. The suddenly
increased competition on the market can affect larger airlines and force
them to cut their prices or change their marketing strategies. This summer,
low-cost airlines have a chance to grab a large part of the market as
people start flying again after the September 11 attacks in the United
Orea Hotels seeks room for expansion in region, starting with Slovakia
to Hungary, Poland and Austria could get a taste of Czech hospitality
if the country's largest hotel chain, Orea Hotels, expands as planned
over the next several years. Orea is positioning itself to build a regional
franchise business in Central Europe, despite relatively saturated hotel
markets in many of the target countries. What Orea is banking on is a
niche in the three-star hotel market. Central Europe is increasingly attracting
Europeans traveling for short, local holidays rather than longer, overseas
holidays. Those travelers tend to look for cheaper hotels.
A second Italian bank, Sanpaolo-IMI, confirms its interest making a bid for Zivnostenska Banka.
Sanpaolo-IMI confirmed the interest to bid for a majority stake in Zivnostenska.
The Czech Republic's oldest bank, that has been put up for sale by troubled
German owner,Bankgesellschaft Berlin AG, which has a 85.15 percent shareholding.
Sanpaolo-IMI is Italy's second biggest bank based on assets and net profit
just ahead of Unicredito Italiano with 7 million customers.
Privatisation of Telecom postponed
Privatisation of the dominant Czech telecommunications operator, Czech Telecom, has been postponed. The government rejected the two best bids for its majority stake in the company. One of them, submitted by a consortium of Deutsche Bank, Danish operator TDC and the financial group Blackstone Group, fell through because of the low price. The other one, which came from the Swiss operator Swisscom and two financial investors, reportedly failed to meet the government's requirements. The cabinet also disliked the distribution of influence within the consortium. Analysts agree that the Czech government missed the best opportunity to sell Czech Telecom a few years ago when the market was on an up and that it may take several years until world's major telecommunications operators recover from financial exhaustion.
Anti-monopoly Office approved the takeover of monopoly gas importer Transgas
by Germany's RWE Gas
Nova Hut announced that it will let go 1,000 employees of its total workforce
of almost 12,000 during the course of this year
revenues of the top 50 chain stores operating in the Czech Republic increased
last year by Kc 30 billion year-on-year
of customers registered at the Czech Republic's three mobile phone network
operators rose to 7.43 million in the first quarter
(CSA) received an award for the best Eastern European airline in 2002
in a worldwide poll conducted by London-based company Skytrax Research.
Some 4.2 million respondents took part in the survey.
Experience Prague in and out of the Classroom
The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education (CERGE-EI) of Charles University offers both graduate and undergraduate students a wonderful opportunity to live and learn in Prague. Located in the historic center of Prague, CERGE-EI has grown to be recognized as a regional center of educational excellence and has won numerous accolades from US governmental institutions, the European Commission, as well as international grant authorities and research institutions.
CERGE-EI offers a diverse academic environment where students of many nationalities come together with English as their common language. The program is further enriched by the program's excellent faculty, which represent some of the top academics in the Czech Republic. Course work focuses on the process of socio-economic transformation in East Central Europe and European integration.
not only have the benefit of studying under top academics at CERGE-EI,
but also learn through daily life in the beautiful city of Prague, which
itself is a living museum. As one of the best preserved medieval cities
in Europe, Prague offers students an encounter with its rich history and
culture around every corner. For more information on CERGE-EI please visit
its website: http://www.cerge-ei.cz/upces/
International Youth Leadership Conference
Prague Summer 2002
Are you a student between the ages of 17 and 25? Interested in the future of world leadership, global politics, cross-cultural communication, and international relations?
Then come participate in the educational experience of a lifetime
The International Youth Leadership Conference gives you the unique opportunity to test your international leadership skills in real-world simulations of global organizations:
Participate as a foreign diplomat in a United Nations Security Council crisis meeting, a lawyer in an International War Crimes Tribunal, or a politician in a Model Parliament debating a country's domestic policy.
Visit the historic European city of Prague, Czech Republic, and experience the beauty of Prague in the summer time.
Establish friendships with international students from around the world that will last a lifetime.
Conference dates are: July 7th-12th, July 14th-19th, July 21st-26th.
can be found at : http://www.czechleadership.com/
Czech Republic hosts a world-class Chess Tournament
Prague was host to the Eurotel World Chess Trophy during the week of April 27 through May 5. Thirty-two of the world's top chess players -- including five former world champions -- participated in the event, which took place in the magnificent halls of the Zofin Palace. The list of contestants included the world's top-rated player, Gary Kasparov from Russia, his arch rival and fellow Russian Anatoly Karpov, world champion Vladimir Kramnik (also from Russia), and Vassily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine, to name just a few. Kasparov and Kramnik were expected to meet in the final, but both were knocked-out of play during the quarter-finals. Kasparov lost to Ivanchuk, while Kramnik was beaten by Karpov, who got through to the finals and eventually measured his wits against the Indian grandmaster Vishy Anand. Anand went on to become the ultimate winner of the tournament.
Kasparov also signed an historic accord with the World Chess federation
(FIDE) while in Prague, stating that they have agreed to go back under
the shelter of the FIDE. This means that beginning next year, there will
be only one world chess champion accredited by all parties.
SVU World Congress in Plzen, Czech Republic
The 21st SVU World Congress will take place in the city of Plzen, Czech Republic, from June 24 - 30, 2002. The Congress will be held under the auspices of the Rector of the University of West Bohemia, Professor Zdenek Vostracky and the Mayor of the City of Plzen, Mr. Jiri Sneberger.
The event will officially begin on Monday, June 24 in the presence of distinguished guests and representatives of the Czech and Slovak political, cultural and scientific life in the famed Plzen Theater of J.K. Tyl. After a festive lunch, there will be a plenary session dedicated to a "Tribute to America," with the participation of the Ambassadors from the United States and the Czech and Slovak Republics, Mr. Craig Roberts Stapleton, Mr. Martin Palous and Mr. Martin Butora respectively.
the next four days, numerous lectures, discussion panels and symposia
will be held - please go to www.svu2000.org for more
details on the conference, as well as for general information about SVU,
the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences.
Sports profile: Anna Monhartova
Few college students are able to reach the pinnacle of excellence in both academics and athletics during their college career, but that is exactly what Anna Monhartova of Plzen, the Czech Republic accomplished at Tulane University in New Orleans.
are more than impressive. From 1998-2001 she had a stellar career as part
of the Tulane Women's Tennis Team, where among many other accomplishments,
she was ranked as high as ninth in singles by the Intercollegiate Tennis
Association, was a three-time all conference USA first-team selection,
and two-time winner of the Southwest Region's Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship
and Leadership Award. In addition to her success on the tennis court,
Anna excelled in the classroom. She double majored in Political Science
and Russian, and was a member of the Honors Program. Her achievements,
both on and off the court, were recognized in 2001 when she was honored
as Conference USA Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year, as well
as Tulane's Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
at the Embassy
Center New York
exhibition at the Czech Center New York will feature the work of artists
dividing their time between New York, Prague and other places: Hana Cisarova,
Veronika Drahotova, Jitka Hanzlova, Frantiska and Tim Gilman, Jan Kotik.
New York, opening June 6 at 6:30 pm, on view through September 6, 2002
The Unknown Master Frantisek Vlacil film retrospective tours America
The Czech Center is bringing to the US fifth touring Czech filmmaker retrospective in its history.
White Dove (Holubice), 1960, Marketa Lazarova, 1967, Valley of the Bees
(Udoli vcel), 1967, Adelheid, 1969, Smoke on the Potato Fields (Dym bramborove
nate), 1976, Hot Summer Shadows (Stiny horkeho leta), 1977, Serpent's
Poison (Hadi jed), 1981, Shadow of Fern (Stin kapradiny), 1985
Academy of Music, NY www.bam.org, June 7-28, 2002
Facets, IL, www.facets.org, July 12-18, 2002
Cleveland Cinematheque, OH, 216-421-7450, July 25-28, 2002
Archive, CA, 510-642-4889, August 1-25, 2002
Treasures of Bohemia - Czech Day in Old Westbury Gardens
Czech food and souvenirs, pre-concert lecture „Dvorak in America", Poetica
Musica concert (guest artist, Petr Macecek - a member of the Tallich Quartet),
a series of workshops conducted in the afternoon will offer practical
tourist information for travelers to the Czech Republic.
Gardens, NY, 516-333-0048, June 8
by Frantisek Vlacil - Concert at the End of Summer (Koncert na konci leta),
New York, June 12 at 8 pm
of K: Franz Kafka and Prague" features photographs, manuscripts, media,
and crafted environments to convey the power and meaning of Franz Kafka's
literature. Although Prague was never directly mentioned in Franz Kafka's
writing, the city and the man are inextricably linked. „The City of K:
Franz Kafka and Prague" will present manuscripts, diaries, books, and
photographs, brought to life with audio and video components, in an artfully
designed series of installations that take visitors through the environs
of Kafka's imagination and psyche. The exhibition explores the tremendous
impact that Prague and the era - from the end of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire through The Great War to the modern age - had on this young author
and his writings. The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. Call (212) 423-3200
or visit www.thejewishmuseum.org.
- January 5
July 11, 8 p.m. The Night at Karlstejn, video at the Czech Center
July 25, 8 p.m. Lemonade Joe, video at the Czech Center
Aug 8, 8 p.m. The Bed, video at the Czech Center
Aug 22, 8
p.m. The Conspirators of Pleasure, video at the Czech Center
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