Czech The News
Prague NATO Summit Brings Further Enlargement, New Capabilities and Partnerships
New Senators Elected
Message from the Ambassador
New Leadership for the AFoCR
Bridging Global Gaps at Forum 2000
President Havel Meets President Bush
Premier Spidla Meets Pres. Bush and Secretary General Robertson
Czechs Breathe Sigh of Relief After Irish Say “Yes” to Nice
A Message from Phil Kasik, AFoCR President
Introducing the New Government: Deputy Premier and Justice Minister
Success of Czech Science
Czech & Slovak Connections Clearinghouse Seeking a New “Home”
Live and Learn in Prague
Profile: Effie Sojak Rosene
Book Review: Historic Coffeehouses of Vienna-Budapest-Prague
Czech Documentary Photography at the Leica Gallery in New York City
Join the Prague Flood Relief Effort
The Eyes Behind the Burka
Prague NATO Summit Brings Further Enlargement
Seven new members accepted, member states commit to transformation
On November 21 and 22, 2002, Prague hosted meetings of the North Atlantic Council of NATO and the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) at the level of heads of state and government. Apart from these talks, meetings for the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) and the NATO-Ukraine Commission (NUC) were organized at the level of foreign ministers.
The Summit began with a meeting of the North Atlantic Council. At this meeting the attendees decided, among other important issues, to invite Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia to accession talks, thus opening a new chapter in the Alliance’s history. The decision to enlarge the Alliance is a step toward strengthening security in the Euro-Atlantic region and building a peaceful, whole and free Europe. The choice to enlarge the Alliance also endorsed the will of the allies to keep the Alliance’s “door” open for additional members in the future.
The Summit discussions confirmed all of the members’ unanimous agreement that terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction create a serious and increasing threat to international security and the safety of civilians around the world.
While discussing transformation, the member states agreed on the creation of a “deployable, interoperable and sustainable” NATO Response Force (NRF), which should be fully operational by October 2006. According to the plan, the NRF would amount to 21,000 troops. Participants also agreed on measures to streamline the military command within the Alliance.
In order to meet new challenges, including threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, the allies discussed, endorsed and took into account key documents launching the process of NATO transformation, including the creation of “balanced and effective” new capabilities.
The NATO leaders also stated that the enlargement and transformation of NATO should not be viewed as a “threat by any country or organization.” Efforts to transform NATO are rather a demonstration of “determination to protect . . . populations, territory and forces.”
As for new relationships, NATO member states are “determined to intensify and broaden . . . cooperation with Russia” and “committed” to the further enhancement of the NATO-Ukraine relations.
The above quotations are excerpts from the Prague Summit Declaration, issued by the Heads of State and Government who participated in the NAC (North Atlantic Council) meeting in Prague on November 21, 2002. A full text of the declaration, as well as numerous other statements and photographs from the NATO Summit, can be accessed on the Internet at www.nato.int and www.natosummit.cz.
Overall, the Prague NATO Summit’s main accomplishments included the acceptance of seven new members, commitments to new military capabilities, and new relationships with partners outside of NATO.
The newly invited countries include Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
New Senators Elected
The Civic Democrats appear to be the most successful party of the October and November 2002 Senate elections, where participants voted in twenty-seven of the eighty-one constituencies. The senior opposition party won in nine constituencies, thus gaining 4 seats and currently holding 26 seats in the 81-member Senate of the Parliament. The ruling government coalition of the Social Democratic, People's Party and the Union of Freedom - Democratic Union lost a total of 6 seats. The Coalition now holds an overall total of 38 seats, meaning they have lost their majority in the Senate. The Communist party continues to hold 3 seats.
Independent candidates and smaller parties each recorded great successes -- together they have won 7 new seats and will now have a total of 14 seats.
Polling stations opened in 27 electoral districts, among them in some of the boroughs of the capital city of Praha and the cities of Hradec Kralove, Brno, Olomouc, Ostrava and Zlin (for a complete list please see CTN September 2002, page 5). The first round of the elections took place on Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26, 2002 and generated one new senator in the district of Znojmo — Vladimir Zelezny (Independent), who received more than fifty percent of the votes and thus became a senator in the first round. The second round of Senate elections was held on Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, 2002. The second round of elections attracted 32.5 percent of eligible voters, which is an 8 percent increase when compared with the first round. The newly elected senators include publicly known figures such as Martin Mejstrik, a student leader from 1989 and Jiri Zlatuska, Rector of the Masaryk University in Brno.
In the lower house — the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament — the government coalition holds a majority of 101 seats out of 200, the Civic Democrats hold 58 seats, and the Communists hold 41 seats.
Message from the Ambassador
First of all, let me express my great pride and joy in the results and course of the Prague NATO summit. It is modesty and self-criticism, rather than self-satisfaction, that are generally advised — but in this particular case, the Czech organizers of the event, particularly my predecessor here in Washington, Sasa Vondra, deserve the highest recognition. Wherever I go in Washington these days, I am told that the summit was a spectacular success. The North Atlantic Council’s decision to give the “go-ahead” to the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization by seven new countries, including Slovakia, brings a definitive end to the unfortunate division of Europe that was approved of after World War II at the Yalta conference. Indeed, this does signify a historical step toward fulfilling the vision of a “Europe, whole and free.” I would like to extend my congratulations to our Slovak friends and to the three Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as well as to Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania. I would also like to express my hopes that the cooperation we established in the "V-10 plus 3" format (ten countries of the so-called Vilnius group — the 7 newly invited countries plus Albania, Croatia and Macedonia, as well as three new NATO members — the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland) will continue with the same energy and enthusiasm after the Prague summit and that the process of enlargement will be kept open for other countries that are eligible and would like to be put on the waiting list for future NATO membership.
Second, I would like to inform you that Czech the News will assume a new format beginning in 2003. The newsletter, which will be sent out bi-monthly starting next January, will be downsized so that it can be mailed to you in envelope size.
Third, I want to thank Milton Cerny for his outstanding work as AFoCR President, and wish Phil Kasik good luck.
Last, but not least, I would like to wish all of you a happy and quiet holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year for 2003!
New Leadership for AFoCR
At its annual meeting in Washington D. C. in September, the American Friends of the Czech Republic’s Board of Directors elected a new slate of officers for the coming year. Phil Kasik was elected President; Peter Rafaeli was elected Treasurer; and Dick Schubert was elected Secretary. Mike Rokos will continue as Vice-president. Jack White of Vienna, Virginia and Peter Bisek of New York were elected to the Board of Directors. Outgoing president Milt Cerny will remain on the Executive Committee. During the meeting, the Board recognized both Mr. Cerny for his exceptional service as president, as well as retiring Board member Tom Gibian for his many years of service on the Board.
Milton Cerny expressed appreciation for all of the help in preparing and conducting the highly successful Masaryk Memorial dedication events. Milt noted that the events had placed Americans, Czechs and Slovaks in the finest light and drew much attention to the statue and park. Construction of the next phase of Masaryk Park is scheduled to begin this fall. Fund-raising to complete the park will remain a high priority in order to assure sufficient resources for completing the Memorial in early 2003, as currently planned.
Mr. Cerny assessed the year as an excellent one for AFoCR. In addition to a substantial amount of fund-raising for the Masaryk Memorial and Scholarship Program, the organization raised over $200,000 for flood relief in the Czech Republic, including substantial donations from the Star Foundation, as well as from Hollywood personalities Paul Newman, Tom Cruise and Barbara Streisand. The Board approved a grant for the flood relief effort to the VIZE 97 Non-profit foundation headquartered in Prague, designating it for use in the Karlin vocational school reconstruction project. The Programs Committee briefed the Board on the status of proposals received for educational programs that would advance the AFoCR mission to “Support educational programs that help advance a civil, legal and democratic society in the Czech Republic.”
Contributed by Phil Kasik, President of the AFoCR
Bridging Global Gaps at Forum 2000
Over forty of the world’s opinion leaders gathered in Prague in late October at the invitation of President Vaclav Havel for the sixth Forum 2000 conference. There they discussed one of the most pressing problems of our time - the economic gap between the North and the South - and many other problems relating to globalization.
In a city where bridges are frequently used as metaphors for one thing or another, it comes as no surprise that the slogan for this year's Forum 2000 was "Bridging Global Gaps." The bridge builders included a list of major decision makers and leaders, such as former South African president F. W. de Klerk, economist Jeffrey Sachs, and World Bank Vice-President Mats Karlsson, as well as activists such as Ricardo Navarro of the El Salvadorean environmental group CESTA and Najma Sadeque of Pakistan's Women's Action Forum.
All of the participants agreed on one thing: that much more needs to be done to address the inequality between the developed and undeveloped worlds - or the “enriched” and the “impoverished,” as some put it.
The first Forum 2000 was held in 1997 under the initiative of Vaclav Havel and the writer Elie Wiesel, and many are wondering whether it will continue next year after Vaclav Havel's presidential term comes to an end.
President Havel Meets President Bush
On November 20, 2002, the eve of the Prague NATO Summit, Czech President Vaclav Havel met U.S. President George W. Bush. Both politicians agreed that the Alliance should transform at its Summit in Prague. President Bush pointed out that the Alliance needs to be able to adjust its capabilities in connection to the threats which the Alliance will be facing in the future. Every member of the Alliance should contribute its share to the common goal. George W. Bush highlighted the Czech anti-chemical unit and appreciated the Czech effort in preparing the Summit despite the damage caused by the August flooding.
This was President George W. Bush’s first visit to the Czech Republic, but the third visit of a U.S. President to the CR since 1989.
Premier Spidla Meets President George W. Bush and NATO Secretary General, Lord George Robertson
On the occasion of the Prague NATO Summit, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla met U.S. President George W. Bush on November 20, 2002. Mr. Spidla expressed his appreciation for the American support of the Czech Republic as the organizer of the Summit, as well as the United State’s assistance in protecting Czech airspace during the Summit. The two politicians also spoke about the the continuing war against terrorism. On the issue of enlargement, President Bush said that the Alliance needs both the Czech Republic and the new members.
On the same day, Prime Minister Spidla held a bilateral meeting with NATO Secretary General, Lord George Robertson. Also present were Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Summit Commissioner, former Ambassador to the U.S. Mr. Alexandr Vondra, and the Czech Ambassador to NATO, Mr. Karel Kovanda. The meeting’s participants stated that enlargement is important, but even more important is the Alliance’s adaptation to new threats and their ability to create new capabilities. The issue of Iraq was also a topic of discussion. Other points of dialogue included the war on terrorism, protection against weapons of mass destruction (which is a Czech specialty), and the participation of Czech soldiers in international operations.
Czechs Breathe Sigh of Relief After Irish Say "Yes" to Nice
The Czech Republic's hopes of becoming a full member of the EU came closer to reality at the end of October after the people of Ireland gave a resounding “Yes” to the Nice Treaty, seen as crucial to plans to expand the EU in 2004. Almost 63 percent said “Yes” this time around - as opposed to the 54 percent who said “No” in the first referendum last year. The result was much better than expected, ending weeks of nervous anticipation among the EU and its candidate countries.
A Message from Phil Kasik, AFoCR President
I am pleased to be writing as the newly elected president of the American Friends of the Czech Republic. Under Milton Cerny’s able leadership, AFoCR has accomplished much and is recognized in both Washington and Prague as the primary organization supporting the U.S.-Czech relationship. When the Czech Embassy sought leadership for U.S. fundraising for Czech flood relief, they turned to AFoCR. AFoCR quickly mobilized an effective effort and within days major assistance was on its way to Prague and other areas. AFoCR has now raised over $250,000 for flood relief.
A statue of Czechoslovakia’s first president and liberator, T. G. Masaryk, now stands prominently at the entrance to Washington’s famed Embassy Row. President Havel in his last visit to Washington dedicated the Memorial and spoke eloquently of Masaryk’s importance in building a democratic nation.
Assuming AFoCR’s Presidency with so many successes already in place is a great place to begin — but along with successes come challenges. The joyous and historic events of September 2002 have passed and there is much yet to do. Flood relief is now our highest priority and the work to complete Masaryk Park just got underway this month. We are working to complete this next phase of construction before winter sets in. Fundraising continues for the Park and we look confidently toward celebrating President Masaryk’s next birthday in March 2003 at Masaryk Park.
I foresee continued success for the Czech-U.S. relationship and a bright future for the Czech Republic as it joins the family of western democracies. The recent action by the EU to recommend admission is a very positive step on this path. At the Masaryk Memorial dedication ceremony President Havel again emphasized the importance of NATO and the Czech commitment to it. And now as the first NATO Summit in Prague unfolds, the Czech Republic continues to demonstrate its commitment to our shared values of freedom, justice and mutual security -- as demonstrated by its stand with the U.S. in the war against terrorism.
Introducing the New Government: Deputy Premier and Justice Minister
It is not the first time that Pavel Rychetsky (58), senator and Deputy Prime Minister for legislation in the previous Social Democrat (CSSD) cabinet, gets control of the Justice Ministry. He already held the post for three months in the year 2000, following the resignation of the then Justice Minister Otakar Motejl. In the outgoing cabinet, Rychetsky was also in charge of human rights issues and he was responsible for the course of the harmonization of the Czech legal order with the EU law.
Rychetsky was born in Prague on August 17, 1943. At university, he studied law. He was a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC) for four years. After he withdrew from the KSC in 1970, he was forced to give up teaching at the Charles University's Faculty of Law, and worked as a company lawyer. He later signed the Charter 77. When the anti-communist revolution broke out in November 1989, Rychetsky co-founded the Civic Forum (OF). Shortly afterwards, he became prosecutor general. In 1990-1992 he was a deputy premier of the then Czechoslovak federal government and head of its legislative council. After the split of Czechoslovakia in early 1993, Rychetsky withdrew from high politics and worked as a defense lawyer. He continued to work for the now defunct Civic Movement (OH), one of the OF's successors. In September 1995 he entered the then opposition CSSD, and one year later he was elected a senator for this party. Before entering Zeman's minority cabinet in mid-1998, Rychetsky chaired the Senate's constitutional and legal committee. He is married and has two sons and a daughter.
Czech Chemical Warfare Unit Training in Kuwait
October 1 The Czech chemical warfare unit that has been stationed in Kuwait since March as part of Operation Enduring Freedom will participate in the Combined Joint Task Force - Consequence Management (CJTF-CM) command staff exercises. The soldiers, along with American, German and Kuwaiti Interior Ministry units, are to show their preparedness for a terrorist attack.
This is the first exercise the unit will take part in since the contingent was rotated in September. The main part of the contingent is stationed at Camp Doha with the Enduring Freedom troops. The Czech military’s 4th radiation, chemical and biological protection unit’s basic objective at the start of the exercises is to check connections, compatibility, and interoperability of command, staff and units with superior staff and the system of information transfer under combat conditions.
Government Releases CZK 350 Million for Four Regions Hit by August’s Floods
October 7 The government decided to release CZK 350 million for the repair of flood damage in the regions of South Bohemia, Central Bohemia, Plzen (West Bohemia), and Usti nad Labem (North Bohemia), where the August floods caused damage worth over CZK 55 billion.
The governors of the concerned regions complained that the amount was too low, and that they had asked for much more. The Local Development Ministry originally proposed higher amounts to cover the most urgent repairs but the Finance Ministry asked for cuts. South Bohemia will get CZK 120 million, Central Bohemia will get CZK 60 million, the Usti nad Labem region will get CZK 59 million, and the Plzen region will receive CZK 31 million. In addition to this, the Ministry of the Environment will release CZK 11 million and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs will release CZK 19 million.
Cowen, Svoboda Discuss Referendum on Nice Treaty
October 10 In his meeting with Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, Minister Svoboda said he hoped that he would hear a positive signal from Ireland - the “yes” reply in a repeated referendum on the Nice Treaty that was signed in 2000. Ireland's repeated negative stand on the treaty would seriously complicate the current stage of EU enlargement.
The European Commission stated that ten countries, including the Czech Republic, have fulfilled conditions for admission in 2004.
EC Says 10 Candidate States Can Join the EU in 2004
October 10 The European Commission issued its annual progress reports, announcing that ten candidate countries, among them the Czech Republic, would be ready to join the EU in 2004.
As European Commission President Romano Prodi made the historic announcement in Brussels, reading out the names of candidates who were deemed ready for EU entry, political leaders across much of central and eastern Europe assembled at government and parliament headquarters to watch the press conference live. At the EU headquarters in Prague, which was packed with reporters, the EU ambassador to the Czech Republic Mr. Ramiro Cibrian responded to the announcement with an upbeat note.
"Today is a day to celebrate, much more to celebrate than to criticize. Today the message is: Yes, the Czech Republic has made tremendous efforts in the past 12 years after the fall of communism. The Czech Republic is now ready to join the family of advanced European nations."
Tvrdik Accepts Kuwaiti Offer to Help Fund Czech Unit There
November 14 The Czech chemical warfare unit may stay at full strength next year in Kuwait, as Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik (Social Democrats, CSSD) told the Senate that the Kuwaiti government has offered to pay for a large part of the contingent to stay in Kuwait.
The task of the unit would be to train a similar Kuwaiti unit. Tvrdik said that this is a chance that the Czech Republic should take advantage of.
Cabinet Approves Army Reform Plan
November 14 The Czech government approved the Defense Ministry's plans to reform the Czech Armed Forces. The plan envisages a highly specialized and fully professional army by 2006. Membership in NATO has changed the entire concept of defense in the Czech Republic. Size needs to be replaced by specialization and teamwork. The current 70,000 strong army is to be reduced to 35,000 men, specialized units are to be capable of acting on demand, and the number of military bases and administrative personnel is to be cut by half.
Success of Czech Science Could Boost Potential for Research & Development Investors
In less than a year, chemical compounds discovered by Czech scientist Antonin Holy have been developed into breakthrough drugs to treat chronic Hepatitis B and AIDS. Over time, achievements like Holy's could place the Czech Republic on the maps of innovative drug makers looking to expand their research and development operations. In September, U.S. drug regulators approved the hepatitis B drug Hepsera, produced by the California-based drug company Gilead Sciences and based on a compound discovered in Holy's Prague laboratory in 1986. The European Union is expected to endorse the drug by the end of the year. The hepatitis preparation known as adefovir is regarded among the most effective medicines to date for battling the disease. Patients have shown less resistance to the drug than to other formulas. This latest success follows approval in October 2001 of Gilead's AIDS-inhibitor Viread, also based on an active ingredient discovered by Holy. Two weeks ago, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the global health organization Family Health International a $6.5 million grant to fund clinical trials of Viread in poor countries with high AIDS rates. Like Hepsera, studies have shown that Viread works in patients who have grown resistant to other treatments for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Holy, 66, has been working on potential anti-viral formulas for more than 40 years. The hepatitis B formula is the third major anti-viral substance discovered by Holy and his team, capitalizing on work done primarily during the mid and late 1980s. Holy has said that he had no idea how long it would take, if ever, to develop the compounds into marketable drugs. But his perseverance has paid off for the Czech Academy of Sciences' Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, the institute at which Holy has spent nearly his whole career. The institute has already bought expensive new equipment and redesigned one of its lecture halls with royalties collected from Gilead. And the institute will continue to collect on Holy's compounds for as long as the drugs continue to make money.
Czech officials hope that Holy's success will help the country's long-term economic goals by focusing the attention of foreign investors on the accomplishments of Czech researchers. Through the foreign investment agency CzechInvest, the government has recently started targeting industries that rely on research and development (R&D), particularly foreign drug makers and biotechnology firms. The hope is that the country will benefit from its rising status as a place with well-trained technicians and growing potential in research, science and technology. In June, the government passed a new incentives scheme that creates more flexibility for CzechInvest to woo biotech companies and drug producers. The Prague-based private medical research and development firm IQA is among a handful of independent labs in the country. The firm is trying to position itself as the only private lab with the resources to either work with large drug producers or help bring to market compounds developed by Czech chemists.
IQA has started working with CzechInvest to attract innovative drug companies looking to out source certain areas of development — a highly involved process that often takes nearly a decade to complete. As the cost of production typically runs between $500 million and $800 million, large drug companies are looking to smaller, more efficient private labs like IQA.
By aggressively seeking cooperative agreements with large drug companies, IQA's two founders say they are trying to fill a gap in public resources that has made it difficult for researchers to further develop their work. State support for research is one of the basic conditions for Big Pharma companies to consider investment. Only about CZK 7 million out of about CZK 1.1 billion in public research grants were allotted to private enterprises this year.
Few in scientific circles, including Holy, believe enough public resources are made available to researchers for long-term basic research projects — or experimental research that could lead to a medical breakthrough. “Unfortunately science comes second to other things. I don't think it's a priority,” Holy said. Grants aren't large enough to cover major projects, he said, and researchers at public institutions are limited in their ability to exploit licensing agreements with private companies that open the doors to further development. As in Holy's case, greater freedom could lead to profits filtering back, to update equipment and hire more researchers. Public funding for R&D accounts for less than 1 percent (0.7) of gross domestic product, according to a 2002 report of the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic. However, since 1993, the grant agency's total budget has grown from about CZK 200 million to more than CZK 1 billion, and the number of grants awarded for research has increased from 531 to 601 during the same period. A 1999 survey of 31 relatively advanced North American, European and Asian countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) places the Czech Republic in the bottom third in overall spending on research and development as a percentage of gross domestic product, just above Poland and Hungary.
October 12 The Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, part of the Academy of Sciences, said it is the second-largest payer of corporate tax in Prague 6, after CSA Czech Airlines. The Institute receives royalties for medicines it develops. Its latest drug, Hepsera, is a breakthrough for treating Hepatitis B. It was recently approved by the U.S. FDA.
October 15 CzechInvest expects foreign investors to account for 8% of the GDP in 2005 and 11.4% of exports. Total sales by foreign investors should reach CZK 235 billion in 2005.
October 22 Food producers plan to create a marketing agency, funded by the state, agribusinesses and farmers, for promoting domestic food products. A similar strategy helped Austrian producers regain market shares lost after their EU accession. The Czech campaign will concentrate on the safety of Czech food products, given that BSE and other problems arise outside the CR.
October 25 A study by Cushman & Wakefield and Healey & Baker found that Prague is the No. 16 European city in terms of attractiveness for international business. Prague is No.13 in terms of the number of multinationals represented, and 25 big companies plan to expand to Prague in the next five years. Alstom said things have gotten better in the CR: It used to take years to get an entry made in the commercial registry, and now it only takes months. Martin Jahn of CzechInvest said managers are now sent to Prague almost as a reward. London, Paris and Frankfurt remain the most attractive cities.
October 29 Industrial production rose by 9.2% in September after falling by 2.8% in August, when the floods hit. The adjusted figure for September was 4.5%. Analysts said that Czech industry is successfully coping with the strong crown and weak demand in the EU.
November 3 The finance ministry reported to the European Commission that the CR spent or will spend CZK 500 billion on support for banks, making the aid to the banking system one of the largest in Central and Eastern Europe. The figure, which includes bailouts, guarantees and subsidized loans to consumers, was submitted as part of negotiations on the competition chapter. An official said that the figure is exaggerated, because it is in the CR’s interest to give a high figure.
November 8 EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said Czech farmers have an advantage over their EU counterparts because of lower costs for labor, energy, fertilizer and pesticides. It will take some time before these prices reach EU levels, he said, so it makes sense for subsidies to Czech farmers to increase gradually.
November 11 The finance ministry said that it will submit a proposal in April of next year for moving telecoms services from the 5% VAT bracket to the 22% bracket as of January 1, 2004. The EU does not allow telecoms services to be in the lower bracket. Consideration had been given to creating a third bracket, but Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said some time ago that it is too late for this.
November 13 Ceska Sporitelna (CS) netted CZK 4.9 billion in the first, second, and third quarters of 2002, according to international accounting standards, which accounts for a CZK 3.7 billion year on year increase. The CS balance sum rose by 10% year on year to CZK 523.3 billion, while clients deposits rose by CZK 34 billion to CZK 411 billion. Over the past year, CS has laid off 1,100 employees to reach their current 11,527 employees. CEO Jack Stack said CS’s loans to political parties are well secured and are based on very conservative policies. His comments came in reaction to a question about whether US-DEU will be able to pay its debts given its weak election results.
November 14 Appian Group submitted to the Czech Consolidation Agency (CKA) a binding bid for a 48.4% state stake in the troubled engineering company Skoda Holding. Part of the CZK 350 million bid is a takeover of Skoda’s bad claims worth CZK 4 billion. Appian also offered to pay CZK 450 million to SH’s administrator, Skoda Plzen, for a 51% stake.
November 18 Eurobarometr found in a survey that 24% of the people in the CR say they can carry out a conversation in English, vs. 46% in Slovenia, 21% in Poland, 14% in Hungary and 13% in Slovakia. Separately, 35% of respondents in a CzechInvest survey said they speak English. Another 11% said they know a bit. Knowledge of English is one factor considered by foreign investors when deciding where to build a facility.
CZECH & SLOVAK CONNECTIONS Clearinghouse is Seeking a New “Home”
Now in its tenth year, Czech & Slovak Connections is a monthly 10 - 12 page monthly newsletter in English that presents the news from the Czech and Slovak Republics. The focus is on current significant political and economic news that are viewed as relevant to the future well being of the citizens in those lands.
The newsletter, published in Minneapolis, MN, includes advertising notices that relate primarily to business, travel or trade interests.
Currently, an estimated 4,500 readers in the US and Canada with serious interests in the Czech and Slovak Republics are served by this publication.
The publisher is offering this publication with all of its records and data base to an appropriate organization in the U.S. at no cost. The one requirement is that there be a serious commitment to maintaining this publication’s mission.
Please note: This publishing project was launched and continues to operate as a not-for-profit effort, covering costs of printing, mailing and related matters, but supports no payroll expenses.
If unfamiliar with the newsletter -- or for more information -- a sample copy is offered. Simply provide a regular mailing address and phone number via e-mail or telephone (1-952-844-9855), and the most current issue will be forwarded. For information, please contact:
E-mail: Machalek@czech. com
Jerry Machalek, publisher
Czech & Slovak Connections
Live and Learn in Prague
Come to Prague
Learn from diverse cultures. Debate challenging viewpoints and new ideas. Discuss economic and political issues with young leaders from Central and Eastern Europe and the United States. Study with faculty under the direction of Georgetown University and Charles University. Experience Prague this summer in a unique educational environment with 100 students from more than 25 countries in Central and Eastern Europe, and the United States. For three weeks, students will attend classes, participate in a parliamentary simulation, listen to prominent speakers, and attend special events designed to engage them in an educational, cultural and social exchange. This combination of activities leads to life-long friendships and an exploration of ideas that cannot be gained elsewhere.
The American Institute on Political and Economic Systems (AIPES) is an academic program designed to explore the political, economic and cultural issues of the world as it grows under democratic principles. The Fund for American Studies created AIPES to introduce the foundations of democracy and free market economics to young leaders from nations that have emerged from the collapse of communism. Students gather to study the basic foundations of a free society and are encouraged to apply these concepts to the transitions already taking place in their home countries. AIPES embodies diversity and culture as its cornerstone to educating future leaders. Students from a wide range of nationalities, religions and ethnicities have a chance to interact, learn and share their experiences in ways that can benefit their educational and professional development. American students are given an opportunity to discover distant cultures, which once where divided by the barriers of the Cold War.
Students leave the Institute as members of a growing network of alumni from The Fund for American Studies' Institutes living throughout the world. It is a group of young leaders and professionals who use their relationships to share intellectual resources that can prove beneficial throughout their careers. Since the Institute's founding in 1993, its graduates have moved into important positions of influence in business, government, journalism and education.
For more information, please go to www.aipes.org.
Profile: Effie Sojak Rosene
Effie Rosene, Founder, President and Chairman of the Czech Cultural Center Houston, credits her husband, Bill Rosene (a Czech by marriage), with the original inspiration to pursue establishing an organization devoted to the culture and art of her country of heritage.
Effie grew up as one of fifteen children to Czech immigrant farmers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. After high school, she moved to Houston to attend St. Joseph School of Nursing, a division of the University of St. Thomas. She then practiced nursing in both hospital and school settings while raising a family of three daughters with her husband Bill. Deciding that she wanted to pursue her education, she earned a Bachelors Degree from St. Joseph College in Maine and a Masters in Health Care Administration from Texas Woman’s University in Houston, eventually becoming Assistant Administrator of the Northwest unit of the Memorial Healthcare System in Houston.
When Bill retired from the City of Houston’s Aviation Department, Effie decided to join him in pursuing their travels, something they both enjoyed immensely. Trips to Europe inspired them both to learn about their heritage (Bill is of Swedish and German lineage), especially as the former communist Czechoslovakia became more accessible to visitors. Hence, they built a vacation home in the wine village of Hlohovec, South Moravia in the Czech Republic, giving them a base for exploring the region, as well as a comfortable place for extended family to visit.
The Czech Cultural Center Houston (CCCH) was incorporated on March 8, 1996, as a non-profit educational and cultural organization, made up entirely of volunteers. Over the past seven years, Effie has been at the forefront of the effort to bring to fruition an organization and a permanent home to showcase the best of her heritage. Her devotion and perseverance are well known, as she has often worked 50 to 60 hours a week to make her vision a reality. She has brought together a diverse group of people into a cohesive organization that has attracted monetary support from over 4000 individuals, with assistance from local as well as national and international sources. The outpouring of support for the center has enabled Czech language classes, scholarship awards, dinners, programs, and events to take place.
Effie has also directed a $4.5 million Capital Campaign to raise money to build a beautiful baroque style building to house the CCCH. Although the campaign is not yet complete, there are sufficient funds to build the first and second levels of the planned three-story building, which will stand as a proud part of Houston's magnificent fine arts center in the Museum District, only five blocks from the prominent Museum of Fine Arts. On February 28, 2002, exactly seven years from the date of inspiration for the CCCH, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site of the new center.
Effie has worked tirelessly in all facets of the organization, from sales in the all-volunteer gift shop to the administrative head of the organization. She often works more each week than she did in her first career. Effie’s dedication to the creation of her vision for a Czech cultural center in Houston has inspired many individuals to join her in celebrating their Czech and Slovak heritage, learning to respect, cherish and enjoy the brilliance of the thousand year old Czech culture. Her leadership and devotion to the Czech Cultural Center Houston, her service on the boards of the American Friends of the Czech Republic, the Texas Czech Physicians Exchange Program, and her advocacy for and membership of many other Czech and Slovak organizations locally and abroad, have inspired many people.
The Czech Embassy would like to wish Effie all of the best and a Happy Birthday!
Book Review: Historic Coffeehouses
Vienna - Budapest - Prague by Carol Dittrich
Historian Carol Dittrich takes you on an adventure through the romance and culture of the historic Coffeehouses of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. Her many memorable experiences, as well as the friendships she has made in the coffeehouses during her travels, have inspired her to share the pleasures of the coffeehouse culture, its uniqueness in character, and its cultural dimensions.
Ms. Dittrich holds a graduate degree in European history with an emphasis on Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She has traveled extensively throughout Europe.
To obtain the book, please send an email to: email@example.com or call 414.962.3706.
Czech Documentary Photography at the Leica Gallery in New York City
Not until the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989 did the world begin to discover that Czech documentary photography boasted a number of notable figures besides the internationally recognized Josef Koudelka. The latest exhibition at the Leica Gallery presents photographers from a wide range of generations, from Frantisek Drtikol, the first world-class Czech photographer, to current photographers. The exhibit outlines social photography developed in Czechoslovakia much as it did in the USA during the Depression with the work of Karel Kasparik and the dramatic Prague Uprising at the very end of WW II, captured by Vaclav Chochola. After the Communists came to power in February 1948, Czech documentary photography entered a period where staged optimistic photographs in the spirit of Socialist Realism dominated, influenced by Soviet propaganda. Many photographers who did not want to serve the totalitarian regime went into seclusion and did not publish. In the incomparably freer environment of the United States, the emigrant Bedrich Grunzweig created his masterpieces. With the relaxing of the political regime a few years after Stalin's death, a strong wave of humanistic photojournalism in the spirit of the Magnum agency arrived. The photographers Miroslav Hucek, Pavel Dias, and Milos Novotny created an unmediated and authentic photography of the everyday life and celebrated the poetics of the ordinary. In the liberal sixties, the spectrum of Czech documentary photography significantly broadened: next to the humanistic photojournalism appeared more subjective and artistic probes into the life of specific groups of the country's inhabitants - the most striking examples are Koudelka's immortal Gypsies cycle, or Viktor Kolar's oldest photographs of the industrial city of Ostrava. With his emphasis on pictorial metaphors and significant subtexts, Kolar instinctively drew closer to Robert Frank than Henri Cartier-Bresson. The freer atmosphere of the sixties was ended by Soviet tanks during the occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. Many photographers (Koudelka, Kolar, Antonin Kratochvil) went into emigration, some began to serve the new regime, while others (Jindrich Streit, Dagmar Hochova, Jaroslav Kucera, Zdenek Lhotak, Bohdan Holomicek, Dana Kyndrova, Pavel Stecha, Jaroslav Barta, Lubos Kotek, Karel Cudlin) settled on an ironic distance to show the contrast between merry Communist slogans and the implacable reality of a devastated people.
The Velvet Revolution of November 1989 became a major theme, as Czechoslovakia once again gained freedom and democracy after forty years. Censorship was gone and the doors to the world opened wide. After a certain period in the background during the eighties heyday of staged photography, documentary photography now once again plays a dominant role in the world of Czech photography. The exhibit also features work by photographer Veronika Lukasova, who contributes to Czech the News.
The third Czech photography show was organized in association with the Czech Center and curated by Vladimir Birgus. On view from November 14 through December 14, 2002 at the Leica Gallery, 670 Broadway, 5th Floor (between Bond and Bleecker), New York City.
Tel.: 212.777.3051, opening hours Tuesday-Friday: 11 AM - 6 PM, Saturday: 12 PM - 6 PM.
JOIN THE PRAGUE FLOOD
Help contribute to the goal of raising $100,000 for The Prague City Library to restore rare publications damaged in the August floods.
Among these historical documents are:
Prague Bible published in 1488,
manuscripts from the 16-18th centuries,
historical maps, bibliographies.
Funds will be used to build a laboratory where the flooded publications, now frozen,
will be dried and restored.
Help the Prague Committee of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program’s effort to assist in this important endeavor.
Make checks payable to:
The Chicago Sister Cities International Program: Prague Flood Relief Fund
Visa, MC, AMEX accepted. For more information or to donate call 312.742.5320.
The Chicago Sister Cities International Program is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization.
The Eyes Behind the Burka
Leos Rejmont is a doctor serving in the Czech Army. When the Czech Republic decided to send a field hospital to Afghanistan earlier this year as part of the ISAF mission to guarantee security in and around Kabul, he volunteered to take part. After five months with the 6th Field Hospital in Afghanistan, Leos Rejmont is now back home in Prague. The Czech-run hospital is to remain up and running till the end of the year, and then a smaller group of Czech doctors will continue to work as part of a 20-strong international medical team. The Czech medical staff have gained a good reputation in Afghanistan, both among Afghans and colleagues in international peace-keeping forces. Here Dr. Rejmont remembers how the hospital gradually won the confidence of the local people, and Afghan women in particular.
“When we had our regular surgeries it happened several times that a woman patient would come to see me after waiting in line for many hours, and would tell me - as an eye specialist - that she was having trouble with her eyes. But the thing is that women in Afghanistan always wear a veil - or ‘burka.’ You can only see their eyes through the grid in front of them. I asked her to remove the burka so I could examine her. She said no, and although she'd been waiting for three hours, she went away again without being seen. This used to happen quite often when we first started, but I see it as one of our successes that while we were in Kabul, women who came to our surgery began to take off their burkas and let us examine them. For an Afghan woman, to do this is something intimate. A grown woman will never leave the house with her face uncovered. So I think that the fact that they overcame these reservations and allowed us to look into their faces showed that we'd managed to achieve a level of mutual respect, on the basis that they knew we could help them, and I think that this was a great success for our doctors and for all the staff of the 6th Field Hospital.”