Czech the News

December 2000

Contents :

New Senators Elected

EC Progress Report Favorable

Message from the Ambassador

Czech Economy Growing Faster Than Expected

Karel Teige in Florida

Commemorative Medals for the Czech WW II Veterans and WW II Memoirs

CzechInvest Opened In Silicon Valley

Announcing a New Trade-oriented Newsletter

News Digest

Profile : Michael Novak

Zdenek Tuma Appointed Governor of the Czech National Bank

CzechTrade Expands to U.S.

IDET 2001 Military Fair To Focus on European Defense and Jet Fighters

Business Digest

Czech Scholar Speaks at Moravian Theological Seminary

SVU Conference in Nebraska

Czech's Most Famous Athlete Passes Away

Artist of the Month

Events at the Embassy

Czech Events around the USA




New Senators Elected

The Coalition-of-Four appears to be the most successful party in the November 2000 Senate polls. The ruling Social Democrats have lost an overall total of eight seats, the senior opposition Civic Democratic Party has lost three seats, and the Communist party has lost one seat.

Polling stations across the country were open for the first round of Senate elections on Sunday, November 12. The polls re-opened on Sunday, November 19 for the second round to elect Senators to approximately one third of the Senate seats. Czechs elected their senators in 26 Senate constituencies. Former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec, running on the Coalition-of-Four ticket, was the only new senator to be elected in the first round of elections, for which a 50 percent majority was needed.

The second round of Senate elections on Sunday, November 19 culminated in a success for the Coalition-of-Four (a group of minor opposition parties), in which 16 out of its 19 candidates were elected. These Senate elections constitute a major change in the political occupation of the seats, now favoring center-right parties. The ruling Social Democrats and their senior opposition Civic Democratic Party have lost their simple majority, which previously, they could secure through their power-sharing agreement. The Coalition-of-Four will have a total of 39 senators in the upper house and will be able to claim the position as the strongest political force in the Senate. The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) won in eight constituencies and will have 22 senators. The Social Democrats (CSSD) will have 15 senators, having gained one seat and losing eight others. The Communist Party currently holds 3 Senate seats, while 2 members of the Upper Chamber are independent.

EC Progress Report Favorable

On November 8, the European Commission (EC) issued an annual progress report analyzing the preparedness of the countries that are candidates for EU membership. The overall assessment of the Czech Republic is significantly more favorable than in the previous two years. During a press conference in Brussels on November 9, Guenther Verheugen, EU Commissar for Expansion, told Czech journalists, " I do not have the slightest doubt that the Czech Republic will be among the first new members of the EU."

According to the EC, the Czech Republic can be regarded as a functioning market economy and should be able to cope with the competitive pressure and market forces within the EU in the near term. Macroeconomic stability has increased and growth has resumed, while favorable performance on inflation and external balance has been maintained. In addition, the report cites progress in the further restructuring and privatization of banks. In the political area, recent significant developments include, in particular, a more effective collaboration between the government and the Parliament working to harmonize their national legislation with that of the EU. However, the country has yet to complete the process of reforming its public administration. The report states that increased and, in some areas, significant efforts have been made since last year regarding the situation of the Roma community, most notably in the area of education.





Message from the Ambassador

Dear readers,

As always, time is flying by as we rapidly approach the New Year. While the discussion over whether this was the last year of the second millennium or the first of the new millennium wages on, I would like to point out just one thing. Regarding Czech-American relations, 2000 was a year of great success and prolificacy. While remembering the first anniversary of our entry into NATO this past March, we welcomed the US Secretary of State in Prague, Brno and Hodonin, where she participated in the celebration of the 150th birthday of T.G.Masaryk. In September, President Havel came to the United States to express our gratitude to the American and Czech-American people for all of their support. As a token of our appreciation, the President offered Prague as a location to host the next NATO summit in 2002. Additionally, Czech-American trade and economic cooperation are booming as they never have before.

The upcoming New Year will also bring some changes. First, our friend John Shattuck, the U.S. Ambassador in Prague, is leaving to take a new job as the director of the JFK Library in Boston. Let me cordially thank him for all of his work in strengthening Czech-American ties during his time in Prague, and wish him well in his new job. Second, we have a new editor of Czech the News, as Martin Weiss's assignment to the U.S. ended in November. He most certainly deserves credit for the new, enhanced graphic design of the newsletter, which he developed through fruitful cooperation with Catherine Rybak and Riggs Bank. I would like to extend my gratitude to all of the newsletter's collaborators. Our new Press Secretary and CTN editor, Petr Janousek, recently arrived to the Embassy. Since 1998, he was in charge of press and media relations at the Press Department of the Czech Foreign Ministry. Washington is Petr´s first overseas posting and I certainly wish him good luck.

My friends, on behalf of myself and my family, I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a successful New Year for 2001.


Czech Economy Growing Faster Than Expected

OECD (The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) recently revised its estimate of the Czech GDP growth rate for the year 2000 to 2.5 percent, up from 1.4 percent. Strong exports, unprecedented foreign investment inflow, and expansionary fiscal policy will also influence solid growth next year, which the OECD estimates at 3.2 percent (up from 2.4 percent in the last report). Other analysts, such as Washington-based PlanEcon, are also quite optimistic, stating that "Inflation collapsed from 10.7 percent in 1998 to a mere 2.1 percent in 1999 and should average about 4.4 percent in 2000-2002. Unemployment could reach up to 9.5 percent this year, but foreign investments may actually reduce it to around 7.5 percent by the end of 2002. The current account deficit, which in 1996 reached $4.3 billion, fell to $1.0 billion in 1999. In 2000, the deficit could climb up to $2.0 billion due to a gasoline price shock and higher imports of machinery and equipment, but remains under control and does not pose a threat to the overall balance."

Direct foreign investment almost doubled to $5.1 billion in 1999 and should run in the $6 - 8 billion range annually during 2000-1, when the remaining large privatization projects take place. Green-field investments, encouraged by the EU-compatible system of investment incentives, will also be substantial.



Karel Teige in Florida

Under the auspices of the Czech Embassy in Washington D.C., and personally attended by Czech Ambassador Alexandr Vondra, the Florida International University Wolfsonian Museum opened Dreams and Disillusion: Karel Teige and the Czech Avant-Garde on November 17, the largest-ever exhibition of work by the Czech Surrealist Karel Teige. Ambassador Vondra remarked in his opening speech that "the Surrealists play a very substantial role in our culture" and that "by following the artistic history of a country, you are following their political history as well." The Ambassador thus reflected that during the sixty-six years that the Czech Surrealist Group has been in existence, they have stood at the forefront of the political radicalism that fought for democracy against the totalitarian regimes of the Nazis and later, the Communists.

In addition to graphic design, the first U.S. Teige exhibition contains much to reveal about Czech culture and their national identity, including a full-scale model of "Minimum Dwelling," Surrealist collages, and a multimedia presentation of a dance performance based on Teige´s collaboration with other avant-garde artists. All pieces are from the rich collection of the Wolfsonian Museum. The museum's founder, Mr. Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., was in attendance for the opening.

The exhibit will last until April 1st, 2001 as part of the Czech Cultural Months, an extensive presentation of Czech art in Florida, prepared by Florida International University, the Florida Grand Opera, and other cultural institutions. Including the Teige´s exhibition, the organizers are also preparing for the premiere of Janacek´s opera Kata Kabanova and the screening of several Czech films, as well as lectures and other cultural activities that, for the first time on such a large scale, will present the Czech culture to a wider American public.

The Wolfsonian is open every day except Wednesdays. For general information, please call 305.531.1001, or visit



Commemorative Medals for the Czech WW II Veterans and WW II Memoirs

On October 26, 2000, the Embassy of the Czech Republic celebrated the Czechoslovakian Independence Day of October 28, 1918 with a State Reception in their main hall. Ambassador Alexandr Vondra and Defense Attaché General Rostislav Kotil presented seven individuals with commemorative medals at the celebration. The medals were issued by the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic in commemoration of the 55th Anniversary of the liberation of the former Czechoslovakia at the end of WWII.

Six of the awardees were WW II veterans, including Col. Thomas Gibian (Maryland), Gen. Herbert Nemec (Pennsylvania), Col. Miroslav Turek (New York), Col. Gustav Galko (California), Gen. Emilius Vlcko (Michigan), and the Czechoslovak exile government minister, Vaclav Majer, in memoriam (received by his widow Irma Majerova). As direct World War II participants and fighters, they received the medal for their outstanding and heroic contribution to Czechoslovakia=s fight for liberation from the Nazis. The other four awardees, not present at the ceremony, were: Antonin Bartos, in memoriam (received by his widow Marie Bartosova), Gen. Milos Knorr (New York), Col. Josef Toman (New York) and Col. Lubomir Volka (New York).

The last of the awardees, Mr. Lewis (Jack) M. White, received the award for his editing of the three-volume collection of war memoirs entitled On All Fronts: Czechoslovaks In World War II (Columbia University Press, 2000, 306 pp). The first two volumes were published several years earlier (1991, 1995) and are completely sold out. However, the third volume is now available through the financing and distribution of the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences. This volume contains twenty-five memoirs by different authors and goes far beyond the experiences of its contributors during the war -- it follows them back home to Post-War Czechoslovakia and the fate that awaited the soldiers who had fought for a free and democratic nation, only to have a Communist regime take control of their country for more than forty years. Many of the fighters were jailed by the Communists or forced into exile, they and their families persecuted in various ways due to their democratic views. One such fighter, Col. Pravomil Raichl, received the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech State award from President Václav Havel in Prague on the same State Holiday.

To order the book, please contact Ms. Dagmar White, 9752 Firth Court, Vienna, VA 22181,

tel./fax: (703) 281-2570. Cost is $ 20 + $ 2 SH within the US, $ 5 SH to Canada.



CzechInvest Opened In Silicon Valley

The new CzechInvest office in Silicon Valley comes as a result of the growth of high-tech direct foreign investment into the Czech Republic. The Czech Government's commitment to enhance its investment climate through the provision of incentives and the development of property options has helped to double the flow of direct foreign investment over two consecutive years. The existing investment incentive legislation, the first EU compatible legislation in Central and Eastern Europe, is expected to contribute towards an estimated $6 billion of direct foreign investment this year.

The primary focus of the new office will be to attract high-tech investors from the information technology and software development sectors, while also encouraging other U.S. industries and services to invest in the Czech Republic. CzechInvest is already working with several Silicon Valley companies; through its presence in the area the agency will better serve the investors' needs. As the newly appointed Director of the CzechInvest office, Mr. Radomil Novak heads the branch in Campbell, California.

Over 1,200 foreign investors are already manufacturing in the Czech Republic. The total direct foreign investment since 1990 has reached almost $20 billion. Consul General of the Czech Republic, Mrs. Zdenka Gabalova, and CzechInvest President, Mr. Martin Jahn officially opened the CzechInvest Office at the beginning of December.

CzechInvest U.S. Operations West

51 East Campbell Avenue, Suite 107 F

Campbell, CA 95008

Tel.: 408.376.4555

Fax: 408.376.4557


Mr. Radomil Novak, Director

Announcing a New Trade-oriented Newsletter

Czech Trade Focus8 is a new business-oriented newsletter by the Commercial Office of the Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C. The newsletter is designed to provide practical information on trade and investment opportunities in the Czech Republic.

Czech Trade Focus8 contains an economic outlook, news about companies and the market, industry reviews, useful web links, and reports on Czech-EU relations. It also features profiles of Czech companies seeking US partners or distributors and highlights Czech products that are being imported to the United States. The newsletter additionally provides travel tips, information on upcoming trade fairs and exhibitions, and useful contact points for businesses.

Czech Trade Focus8 is published bimonthly and available on-line on our Embassy's homepage at: The newsletter is also distributed for free by fax or e-mail. You can subscribe to Czech Trade Focus8 by calling the Commercial Office at: 202.274.9104, faxing your request to: 202.244.2147, or sending an e-mail to:


News Digest

November 2: President Vaclav Havel asked the Constitutional Court to abolish some provisions of the new election law, as well as the law regarding the financing of political parties. The President is convinced that the disputed paragraphs are at odds with the constitutionally guaranteed free competition of political parties. Overriding President Havel's veto, the Chamber of Deputies passed the controversial election law and political party financing law in mid-July and mid-September respectively. According to the President, the election law strengthens the position of larger parties, while the financing legislation, by shifting the funding of political parties from private donors and companies to awards based on parliamentary seats, gives the advantage to those parties that are already in the Parliament.

November 2: Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and several members of his Cabinet paid an official visit to Slovakia to hold talks with their counterparts. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan stressed the continuous Czech support of Slovakia's NATO aspirations. He also reiterated Prague's interest in seeing the Czech and Slovak Republics enter the EU together. The Czech and Slovak Prime Ministers signed an agreement to cooperate together to improve the quality of border crossings and bilateral exchanges in education and culture.

November 4: The renowned performance of Arthur Schnitzler's Professor Berhnardi by the Vienna Burgtheater group opened the 5th Prague German-language Theater Festival at the State Opera Theater. The prestigious festival was held under the auspices of the Presidents of Austria, Switzerland, Germany and the Czech Republic. Participating groups included Tel-Aviv's Habima National Theater, as well as ensembles from Basle, Karlsruhe and Hamburg. In his opening speech, Czech Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal remarked that the festival illustrated the Czech Republic's history as a spiritual country based on the coexistence of different cultures.

November 8: The Cabinet decided that as many as 800 Czech soldiers would be deployed in peacekeeping missions to the Balkans next year. Of that total, 600 will operate in the SFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the remaining 200 troops of the KFOR mission will serve in Kosovo. The government sent the proposal to the Chamber of Deputies for their approval of the extension of Czech participation in the SFOR and KFOR.

November 9: The Czech Ambassador to the Council of Europe, Jiri Mucha, signed a convention against corruption--the first attempt at defining common international rules in the sphere of civil law and the fight against corruption. It stipulates a compensation for damage caused by the corruption of public officials and protection of the people who report a corrupt employer. The Czech Republic also signed a convention on regional and ethnic languages, designed to prevent the demise of endangered languages.

November 9: Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal and Ralf Dryer from the European Commission Delegation inaugurated the State Science Library, or the Building of Reconciliation, in the northern Bohemian city of Liberec. Part of the library is a Jewish synagogue, the first synagogue to be built in Eastern Europe after WWII. At the same site on Kristallnacht, the Nazis set fire to one of Europe's biggest synagogues. The construction of the library started in 1996 and was mostly financed by the Czech state. Additionally, funds from the EU Phare Cross-Border cooperation, the German and Swiss Governments, and the Czech-German Fund for the Future contributed to the construction.

November 13: During his first visit to the Czech Republic, Greek President Konstantinos Stefanopulos focused primarily on the EU enlargement in his discussions with Czech officials, assuring them of his country's support of the Czech Republic´s early admission into the EU. According to Mr. Stefanopulos, Greece no longer makes the EU expansion contingent on Cyprus being accepted in the first wave, as it did in the past. The Czech-Greek talks also focused on the cooperation in the Balkans and the economic reconstruction of Yugoslavia after the fall of the Milosevic regime.

November 14: The Czech Republic became a member of the West European Armaments Group. This will open the door to European markets for the Czech defense industry, as Czech companies will now be able to enter international public tenders and participate in multinational research and development projects.

November 17: For the first time, the Students' Fight for Liberty and Democracy Day was celebrated as a state holiday in commemoration of the events that occurred on November 17, 1939 and 1989. President Vaclav Havel met with the student leaders of the 1989 "Velvet Revolution, " the event which led to the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. The Czech politicians paid tribute by laying bouquets and lighting candles at the memorial on Prague's Narodni street, where the police had attacked the students in 1989.

November 21: President Vaclav Havel met with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic in Prague to discuss the situation in Yugoslavia after the fall of the Milosevic regime. According to President Havel, the future status of the two Yugoslav republics and the province of Kosovo is an issue to be decided by the three entities themselves, rather than the international community, who should not decide which arrangement is best, but instead urge the parties to achieve a just and democratic solution.

November 21: The famous Czech athlete and legendary runner Emil Zatopek died at the age of 78 in the Central Military Hospital in Prague-Stresovice. He was hospitalized on October 30 after suffering a stroke. The four-time Olympic champion entered the pantheon of sporting history at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, where he won three disciplines - the 5,000 m and 10,000 m runs and the marathon - within one week.

November 23: Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel agreed to another round of talks regarding the Temelin power plant in southern Bohemia. The talks are scheduled to take place on December 12 in Vienna, where EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Guenter Verheugen, has been invited to join. At their October meeting in Zidlochovice, in south Moravia, the Czech and Austrian officials agreed to new safety checks sponsored by the EU. However, the blockades of Czech-Austrian border crossings by Austrian opponents of Temelin continued throughout part of November. The European Commission (EC) voiced its slight alarm over the renewed blockades of the border crossings, but continued to regard the dispute as a bilateral Czech-Austrian issue. Later in the month, the Czech Republic resumed its accession talks with the EU's energy and environmental chapter.

Profile : Michael Novak

A theologian, author and former U.S. Ambassador of Slovak origin, Michael Novak currently holds the George Frederick Jewett Chair in religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., where he is the Director of Social and Political Studies.

Mr. Novak graduated from Stonehill College and the Gregorian University in Rome. After his graduation, he continued his studies at the Catholic University of America and Harvard.

His educational career began at Harvard and continued to Stanford, where he was voted one of the "two most influential professors." He later taught at Old Westbury. In the year 1973-1974, Mr. Novak launched the new humanities program at the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1976 he accepted a tenure as University Professor and Ledden-Watson Distinguished Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. He has held the W. Harold and Martha Welch chair as Professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Intrigued by the relationship between religion and economics, Mr. Novak joined the AEI as a Resident Scholar in the spring of 1978.

Mr. Novak's writings have appeared in every major Western language, as well as in Bengali, Korean and Japanese. His masterpiece, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, was published underground in Poland in 1984, and later in Czechoslovakia, Germany, China, and Hungary B as well as several times in Latin America. One reviewer has called it "one of those rare books that actually changed the world."

In 1974, Mr. Novak campaigned for the creation of a White House Office of Ethnic Affairs. The office was opened during the Ford administration and continued under President Carter, where he served as an advisor under both administrations.

Mr. Novak has been appointed to and served as: Ambassador of the U.S. Delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, 1981-1982; head of the U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the monitor of the Helsinki Accords), 1986; Senate approved member of the Board for International Broadcasting (the private corporation governing Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), 1984; member of the Presidential Task Force on Project Economic Justice, 1985.

Zdenek Tuma Appointed Governor of the Czech National Bank

President Vaclav Havel appointed Zdenek Tuma as the new governor of the Czech National Bank on November 29. As the second governor in the Czech Republic's history, Zdenek Tuma replaces Josef Tosovsky, who recently resigned from the position. The appointment of Mr. Tuma caused a disagreement over the rules of naming the governor after Havel had appointed Tuma, a candidate unfavored by both the cabinet and Klaus's senior opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), to the post. The Czech government agreed on December 4 to accept President Vaclav Havel´s choice for the new governor of the Czech National Bank. Although the cabinet recognized the President´s decision, they still intend to go to the Constitutional Court to clarify the procedure of appointments for the future. The main issue for clarification will be the stipulated requirement for the Prime Minister´s counter-signature next to the President´s.

CzechTrade Expands to U.S.

CzechTrade is a trade promotion organization established by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. In October, the agency announced that it had opened its first US office in Chicago, IL. CzechTrade's main task is to assist in the development of mutual trade and cooperation between the Czech Republic and foreign countries. Detailed information about CzechTrade, its services and its offices around the world can be found at

Suite 489, The Merchandise Mart

200 World Trade Center Chicago

Chicago, Illinois 60654, USA

Tel: 312.644.1790

Fax: 312.527.5544


Ms. Jana Sevcikova, Director

IDET 2001 Military Fair To Focus on European Defense and Jet Fighters

European defense and offset programs connected with the Czech Republic's purchase of new jet fighters will dominate the sixth military trade fair IDET 2001 to be held next May, according to the managing director of the project. IDET is an international trade fair focusing on defense and security technology, as well as special information systems.

IDET 2001 is expected to be Europe's largest and most prestigious exhibition of defense technology next year. Its area and number of exhibitors rank it second only to Eurosatory, the largest specialized defense industry exhibition on the continent, held in Paris every two years. Last year, IDET hosted delegations from 15 NATO member states and over 350 companies from 25 countries. Exhibitors will have the opportunity to demonstrate some of their products (particularly vehicles and aircraft) in a special polygon and at the Brno airport.

The IDET military fair is primarily intended for experts. However, the event will be open to anyone over the age of 16. There will also be an accompanying program that includes conferences and seminars on issues such as weapon systems for the 21st century and the security of computer networks. A new feature will incorporate a special website that is planned to be developed into an Internet portal to map the defense and security areas in Central and Eastern Europe.



Business Digest

November 1: The number of Czechs with access to the Internet has grown larger in the third quarter, with almost 20 percent of the population between 12 and 79 years having access to the Internet, according to a poll. Out of the 1.7 million people, 1.4 million said they use the Internet at least several times a month. Among respondents between 16-19 years, half said they have experience with the Web. Most of the respondents use e-mail services, followed by a percentage of those who use the web as a device for searching for personal issues and work-related data and information. At the same time, another survey indicates that Czechs spend more time on the web browsing, banking or shopping.

November 2: The Executive Committee, composed of representatives of ministries and other state bodies, has approved subsidies for the industrial zone development costing CZK 380 million. The money will go toward the construction of technical and road infrastructure on sites destined for incentive investors, or sites selected as strategic city development zones in 32 Czech cities and villages. CzechInvest and the Ministry of Industry and Trade initiated the state program to support the industrial zone development in 1998. The program was first put to use in 1999, when 18 cities and villages received subsidies amounting to CZK 150 million.

November 6: Czech brewery Budvar-Budweiser increased its revenues to more then CZK 2 billion annually. The company's profit has proven that Budvar is one of the most profitable breweries in the country. Market shares grew 7 percent, putting the company in third place after Pilsner Urquell / SAB and Prazske Pivovary. Budvar-Budweiser is the largest exporter with overseas sales totaling 376 thousand hectoliters.

November 9: Japanese Matsushita Communication Industrial (MCI) has announced a plan which would invest CZK 3.3 billion ($100 million) into a new facility to manufacture Panasonic cellular phones. The city of Pardubice would produce up to 16 million sets annually. The plant would be the company's second major investment in the Czech Republic after its Panasonic TV-set facility in Plzen in 1996. Matsushita will not be the first company to produce cellular phones in the Czech Republic; the French company Sagem has already started construction of its plant in Kladno. Sagem has also established its service center in Kladno, covering most of its European customers.

November 10: ZKL Praha, a Czech manufacturer of bearings, plans to complete research on its new production technology that would reduce material and energy outlays by half. Several other companies and research laboratories, both Czech and international, are participating in the Eureka project, which is supposed to be implemented by 2002. ZKL Praha has approximately 280 employees. The company's sales for last year exceeded CZK 119 million (US$3 million).

November 13: Tatra Koprivnice, a leading Czech truck manufacturer, revealed its plan to move its engine plant to India. For several years, its local Indian subsidiary, Tatra Udynog, as well as other partner companies Vectra Investments and BEML, have served the booming market of Indian customers that includes the Indian army. In 1998 and 1999, Tatra sold more than 130 heavy trucks. The new production facility could expand sales up to 1500 per year throughout the whole sub-continent. While competing with two other companies, Ashok Leyland and Volvo, Tatra Koprivnice's decision to move the plant is aimed at lowering their production costs. After a break-up of its traditional markets in Russia, years of financial problems brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy--despite the brand's well-known quality and reliability in the most extreme conditions, as well as their numerous successes at international sporting events. In 1999, the government took back their control of the company and included it in its revitalization program. Tatra has announced sales of CZK 2.85 billion (US$ 75 million), with a profit of CZK 173 million (US$ 4.6 million) for the first nine months of 2000.

November 14: The International rating agency Moody's has released an updated rating of Czech banks, stressing a need to further improve quality in their loan portfolio. Moody's noted that the legal framework of the portfolio is becoming compatible with EU standards. The agency also acknowledges that privatization, which is almost complete, accelerated the restructuring of the financial sector. Fast-spreading electronic banking is also mentioned among the typical positive factors. The following table lists the major banks in the Czech Republic and their current Moody's rating:





Czech Export Bank


Komercni Banka


Ceska Sporitelna/Erste Bank


Zivnostenska Banka


November 16: Leading U.S. machinery manufacturer Precision Castparts Corporation (PCC) intends to move part of its British facility from Livingston, UK, to Plzen, Czech Republic. PCC representatives told the press that total investment would amount to CZK1 billion ($30 million). The facility in the Western part of the Czech Republic would produce aircraft parts and employ approximately 350 workers.

November 17: Japanese companies invested more than $479 million in the Czech Republic, according to CzechInvest--the government agency to support foreign investment. Thus far, Japanese investors have concentrated on the automotive, electronic, and semiconductor industries. In total, the level of Japanese involvement places the country third on the continent of Europe that is still dominated by Germany.

November 20: Privatization of state assets should be completed within two years, according to Finance Minister Pavel Mertlik. Speaking at a seminar for a business community from France, the Minister encouraged French investments, which recently have been outpaced by British investors. According to a press release, French investors are mostly interested in energy production and distribution, and in the privatization of Prague's waterworks.

November 21: More Czech software companies are seeking their fortune in the United States, among them Brno-based developer of graphic editors Zoner Software. The company, which holds about 25 percent of the domestic market segment, opened a branch called Zoner Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia. More than 10 thousand of Zoner's key products, Callisto and Media Explorer, have already been sold, while pre-installed versions in new computers have exceeded 50 thousand copies. (visit them at

November 22: Skoda Motory, the Czech truck manufacturer formerly known as LIAZ, has developed a new bus engine based on the incineration of compressed natural gas (CNG). Since oil prices have increased in the world market, the CNG technology costs three times less, while also being a more environmentally sensitive alternative to classic diesel engines. Due to the difference in price, many local transit authorities, especially in areas with higher industrial pollution, are interested in converting their traditional bus fleets. The highest number of CNG buses operates in the Havirov region with 43 units. Skoda engines are regarded by many as the best in Europe. Bus operator CSAD Usti nad Labem in Northern Bohemia has requested at least 40 engines, while others, such as those in Prague, are currently testing them. The company also plans to approach overseas customers, claiming their investments will return in three years with the current oil prices.

November 23: The New Year in the Czech Republic will introduce some of the greatest changes of legislation since the early 1990s. Among the laws to be amended are Civil Code, Commercial Code, Labor Code, and Energy Law. Parliament has accelerated the passage of laws in order to get ready for admission into the European Union, a move which is generally applauded throughout the country.

November 23: The Czech government has raised the minimum monthly wage from 4500 to 5000 Czech crowns, an equivalent of 122 USD, effective on January 1st, 2001. The government has thus made another step toward fulfilling its program document to raise the minimum wage above the poverty line. The poverty line has been newly set at 3770 CZK a month, which is around 92 USD.

November 24: Beginning in January, Cesky Telecom said that it would change its tariff system to harmonize its fee structure with common European standards. Cesky Telecom will cease charging its users by impulses of different length, replacing the system by charging through more transparent time periods. Local calls will be charged per minute, long-distance calls after 30 seconds, and international calls per second. Beginning next year, the new prices will come into effect when the Czech public fixed-line market opens, and will be announced later in November or December.

November 27: E-commerce is taking off in the Czech Republic as major banks are expected to begin implementing on-line payment in the second half of next year, such as with Ceska Sporitelna, a bank with approximately three million clients and 1.5 million credit cards. This payment system, "SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)," is being used in most countries, including the United States and Western Europe, but was deemed too risky for banks to implement in the Czech Republic until recently.

Czech Scholar Speaks at Moravian Theological Seminary

Dr. Milan Opocensky, former professor of social ethics in the Comenius Faculty at Charles University in Prague, presented a luncheon lecture on November 29 entitled "The Challenge of Globalization for the Christian Community" at Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, PA. The Seminary is part of the Moravian College.

Dr. Opocensky is a Visiting Professor at Princeton this year. He is a scholar of Comenius and of the Hussite tradition in Czech history and culture. Prior to coming to Princeton University the speaker spent ten years as the Secretary General of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva, Switzerland.

The fascinating lecture was enjoyed by an appreciative Moravian audience and was followed by an interesting question and answer period.


SVU Conference in Nebraska

The Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences (SVU) announces a special conference entitled The Czech and Slovak Legacy in the Americas: Preservation of Heritage with the Accent on Youth. The University of Nebraska will host the conference, which is to be held in Lincoln, NE on August 2 and 3 of 2001. The event is sponsored by the University's College of Arts and Sciences, their Departments of Modern Languages and European Studies, and by the following community and regional groups: the Czech Language Foundation, The Komensky Club, The Nebraska Czechs of Lincoln, and The Wilber Czechs.

The dates of the Conference have been selected to coincide with the 45th Annual Czech Festival that is held each year in Wilber, Nebraska -- a state with a rich heritage of political and cultural life organized by Czech Americans. The conference will focus on three main themes, including: Ethnicity and Preservation of Language and Culture, Historical and Contemporary Settlements of People from the Czech and Slovak Republics in the Americas, and The Future Relationships Between the Czechs and Slovaks Living in the Americas and Those Living in the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Conference participants will have the unique opportunity to attend various cultural and social programs scheduled throughout the two days, as well as to attend the Wilber Czech Festival on Saturday and/or Sunday.

For information on attending the conference, please contact Cathy Oslzly, Department of Psychology, 238 Burnett Hall, UNL, Lincoln, NE 68588-0308.


Czech's Most Famous Athlete Passes Away

Emil Zatopek, the hero of the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, passed away at the age of 78 on November, 22, 2000. He became a hero at the 1952 Olympics as the only athlete in the world to win three Olympic gold medals in three long-distance runs - the 5-kilometer run, the 10-kilometer run and the marathon. For his efforts, he was probably the most well-known Czech of the post-war period. For Czechs, Emil Zatopek is a symbol of perseverance, fair-play and modesty.

Zatopek was born in 1922 in the northern Moravian town of Koprivnice, where he started his track-and-field career as a participant in local cross- country races. Throughout his career, he managed to win four Olympic gold medals (the first one in London, 1948 and the other three in Helsinki, 1952) and one Olympic silver medal. He set 18 world records, including three titles at European championships, 61 Czech records, and managed to remain unbeaten in the 10 k run for seven years.

The marathon genius Zatopek, whose nickname was "The Locomotive," was also well-known for his great sense of humor. During the marathon in Helsinki, Zatopek saw one of his competitors, Jansson, pick up a slice of lemon at a feeding station. Later, Zatopek admitted to having thought to himself, "If he runs well, I will take two lemons at the next feeding station." Instead, Jansson began to fade. Zatopek later won the race and greeted his competitors at the finish line with slices of an orange . . .

Zatopek is survived by his wife, Dana Zatopkova, a successful javelin thrower who was born on exactly the same day, month and year as her husband. Together they formed a legendary couple.


Artist of the Month

The EBEN BROTHERS, David (1965), Krystof (1954), and Marek (1957), worked together for several years as a folk group. The leading spirit of the group was Marek Eben, who had already gained fame as a child actor. Currently, he is one of the most-watched television hosts in the Czech Republic. David, the youngest, studied clarinet and musicology, and devoted himself to conducting a Gregorian chorus (a musical style which thrives in his father's compositions) at the Paris Conservatory. He has become known in Europe as a specialist in chant and the leader of the renowned group Schola Gregoriana Pragensis. Krystof is not currently occupied with music (he played the piano and other instruments); he is a mathematician at the Institute of Information and Computer Science. The three recorded the 1995 album "Silent Household," which was celebrated by many listeners for its pleasing singularity. The brothers performed at the special 10th Anniversary Concert last November on Vaclavske Namesti, prior to an address by President Havel.

Events at the Embassy


Through April 25

Discover the creativity and imagination presiding over a presentation of the contemporary world through Surrealism. The collection of work by Jan Svankmajer and Eva Svankmajerova, both active members of the Czech and Slovak Surrealist movement, is complete with paintings, ceramics, marionettes, tactile art, illustrations and props from their films. The exhibit will be on display through April 25, weekdays from 9-5 and evenings during events.


Tuesday, January 9

In celebration of the 111th anniversary of the birth of the great writer Karel Capek, the Czech Embassy launches the first of its annual celebrations with an evening of presentations and readings. A leading novelist, playwright, author and columnist of the first half of the twentieth century, Karel Capek's plays have been performed on Broadway and his writings have been translated world-wide. As an artist and commentator, Capek's views were so influential that he was second on the Gestapo's list of people to be arrested after the annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1939. All of those who enjoy Capek's work are invited to contribute a reading of their favorite piece or chapter. Please contact the cultural office of the Czech Embassy by December 20 to schedule your reading and to avoid the overlapping of contributions. At 7:00 p.m. at Politics and Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW.


Thursday, January 25

Over the years of its ancient tradition, Czech animation has always held the esteem of a highly respected art form. This evening will introduce Michaela Pavlatova, a forerunner in the art of animation. Since her graduation from the Prague College of Arts and Crafts in 1987, she has been making her own films, including Words, Words, Words (Reci, reci, reci), a film which earned her an Academy Award nomination. Her exquisitely drawn animations are humorous and perceptive, often centering on human relations and particularly the vagaries of male/female interactions. At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. Reservations are not required. Admission is free.


Wednesday, January 31

Czech piano prodigy Lukas Vondracek presents another of his Embassy Recitals. At the age of fourteen, Vondracek is already the winner of numerous competitions and awards. At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. Reservations are recommended. Please call: 202/274-9100, x. 3413. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Mark your calendar

Jan 9 Karel Capek anniversary celebration

Jan 25 Animated films by Michaela Pavlatova

Jan 31 Lukas Vondracek concert

Feb 6 Musica Viva

March 13 David Vavra´s poetry evening

March 15 Environmental Film Festival Screening

March 26 Martinu String Quartet

Czech events around the USA

September 30 - January 7

University of Buffalo's University Archives presents Engineering the Organic: A Partnership between J.J. Polivka & Frank Lloyd Wright, an architectural exhibition telling the story of the collaboration between Czech structural engineer Jaroslav J. Polivka and architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

420 Capen Hall, Buffalo, NY

For more information, please call 716.645.2916


November 15-April 1

The Wolfsonian-Florida International University hosts the exhibition Dreams and Disillusion: Karel Teige and the Czech Avant-Garde

1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 333139

Adults $5, seniors, students and children 6-12 $3.50

Wolfsonian Members, FIU students, faculty, staff with ID and children under 6 are free

For more information, please call 305.531.1001


Uz Jsme Doma Moves into the New Millennium with North American Tour

December 1-17. Please visit for further information and tour dates


The American Sokol, Washington DC Activities

Adult Volleyball, December 4, 11, 18, and January 8, 22

Wood Acres Elementary School, 5800 Cromwell Drive, Bethesda, MD 20816

8:00 PM - 10:00 PM

For more information, please call 301.585.8534


The American Sokol, Washington DC Activities

Gymnastics for Children, December 1, 8, 15, and January 5, 12, 19

Wood Acres Elementary School, 5800 Cromwell Drive, Bethesda, MD 20816

8:15 PM - 10: 00 PM

For more information, please call 301.424.1658


The American Sokol, Washington DC Activities

Aerobics for Adults, December 1, 8, 15 and January 5, 12, 19

Wood Acres Elementary School, 5800 Cromwell Drive, Bethesda, MD 20816

8:30 PM - 9:30 PM

For more information, please call 301.424.1658


Czech Center New York

Days of Bohuslav Martinu in New York, December 5, 2000 - January 29, 2001

Exhibition: The Life and Work of Bohuslav Martinu

Collection of reproductions of photographs and facsimile of letters, drawings and original scores from the holdings of the Bohuslav Martinu Institute in Prague.

On view Dec. 6th - Jan. 29, 2001

Gallery hours : Tue, Wed, Fri 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Thu 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Exhibition: Bedrich Grunzweig: Photographs from the 50´s and 60´s

Exhibition of photographs by Czech native Bedrich Grunzweig from 50´s and 60´s

Dec. 7 - January 20, 2001, John Stevenson Gallery, New York

Theatre performance: "Master Class" by Terence McNally

Czech artist Eliska Balzerova in a "one man performance" about the life of opera singer Maria Callas

December 14, 2000, Czech Center New York

Exhibition and conference: E-business Expo

E-business Expo is a business conference and exhibition of the technologies of

e-commerce and electronic business

December 14 - 16, 2000, Javits Convention Center, New York

Video screening: Return from Exile

A 1998 documentary on Bohuslav Martinu´s life in Europe - in Bohemia, France, Italy and Switzerland - which uses archival materials and interviews with Martinu's friends and contemporaries. Written by Ales Brezina and directed by Jiri Nekvasil.

January, 9, 2001 at 7 p.m. at the Czech Center New York

LIGN="JUSTIFY">A 1998 documentary on Bohuslav Martinu´s life in Europe - in Bohemia, France, Italy and Switzerland - which uses archival materials and interviews with Martinu's friends and contemporaries. Written by Ales Brezina and directed by Jiri Nekvasil.

January, 9, 2001 at 7 p.m. at the Czech Center New York