November & December 2001
Message from the Ambassador
President Bush Receives Prime Minister Zeman at the White House
Final Forum 2000
Madeleine Albright Speaks at the Czech and Slovak Lecture Series
Czech Leaders Welcome Positive Assessment
Czech Republic National Day at NATO SACLANT Headquarters
EC Labels CR a Functioning Market Economy
Prime Minister Zeman Visits the USA
Masaryk Bill Signed
New Honorary Consulate Opens in Chicago
AHumanitarian Fund for New York@
Pittsburgh & Ostrava Sign Sister Cities Agreement
Prime Minister Focuses on US Businesses
Anti-Monopoly Office Could Delay Energy Sector Privatization
CEFTA to Liberalize Agricultural Trade
Finance Ministry Upgrades GDP Outlook
Energy Sector Privatization to Finish Soon
CNB Approved Societe General=s Acquisition of Komernci Banka
Oscar Candidate Selected
Ladislav Sutnar Awarded the State Medal of Merit
Events at the Embassy
Czech Events Around the USA
Message from the Ambassador
To live in historical times, as we certainly do, is both a great privilege and a great challenge. The world is literally changing in front of our eyes and our most certain knowledge is that we do not know where all of the processes that we are part of and concerned about will end. Nevertheless, we still have to make decisions and to act resolutely under the given circumstances, we still must be aware that the biggest mistake would be to miss the right moment and to forfeit the window of opportunity. After the events of September 11, we see the new grand coalition emerging in the struggle against international terrorism, we observe the European security debate in quite a new context, and we may be surprised or even puzzled by sudden positive twists in US-Russian relations. It is my deepest conviction that the steps taken by the Czech government in the recent weeks B to not only declare our political support but to offer our concrete assistance and our military units to participate in the current combat - are the right ones and I sincerely hope that this policy will be supported by Czech politicians and the Czech public in the future. Next year will be a decisive one for the successful termination of our long journey to the European Union. We should also remember that Prague will host the next NATO summit in November, a summit that will not only determine the next round of NATO enlargement, but will also influence decisively the future of the transatlantic bond.
I would like to wish all of you a happy and quiet holiday season, a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Or, as we from the Aold school@ still have a tendency to say: good health, prosperity and above all, the gift of an Aunderstanding heart,@ like the Old Testament says, in all our decisions we are about to make, individually or collectively, in the coming year of 2002.
President Bush Receives Prime Minister Zeman
Czech Premier Milos Zeman was received by U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit to the U.S. in early November. Their 20-minute meeting included discussions of the anti-terrorism struggle and the NATO summit in Prague in 2002.
Before the meeting, Zeman had said that he wanted to express solidarity with the Americans in their fight against terrorism and to support them not only with words, but also with deeds. The Czech Republic has so far offered military assistance to the U.S. and has provided a Tu-154 transport plane and a chemical protection unit. Zeman also stated before the meeting that "it is necessary to reconcile ourselves with the fact that the military crusade launched by the USA against terrorism will take a long time." Zeman believes that NATO will play a major role in the fight against terrorism.
Final Forum 2000
The fifth and final Forum 2000 took place in Prague from October 14 to 17 under the auspices of President Vaclav Havel. In his opening remarks, President Havel stated that the forum Ahas been a venue for bringing together people representing widely different professions, people from various continents, people of various political convictions and religious denominations . . . We are asking ourselves whether it is possible to identify a certain common minimum of spiritual tenants that could unite people of different religions, different nations and different convictions." The overall theme of the international intellectual meeting concerned human rights and the search for global responsibility. Considerable attention was also given to the issue of terrorism, due to the global impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The first day of the forum featured several speakers who discussed various aspects of globalization. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke of the attack against the World Trade Center and its impact upon citizens of the world. He also discussed the importance of freedom, stating, AIf we want a world which has more human rights and more global responsibility, the world has to have people who are free to exercise those rights, who have a genuine opportunity to realize them.@
The second day of the forum focused on international issues and human rights, while the final day focused on the question of human rights and state sovereignty. Other notable speakers at the forum included Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan; Jose-Ramos-Horta, the East Timorese Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Sergei Kovalyov, a member of the Russian Parliament. In addition, representatives from five of the world=s major religions met in St. Vitus Cathedral to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks.
In concluding the final Forum 2000, the participants approved the eleven page Prague Declaration, which outlines the principle challenges facing our world today -- namely the need for ethical consciousness, the global protection of shared values, and the need for a global economy that enhances local identities. The Prague Declaration also summarized what should be nurtured, such as solidarity, tolerance and respect, as well as what should be changed, such as the UN, international law, the role of world religions and the role of education. Finally, suggestions were proposed on how to conduct dialogues by means of facilitating understanding and allowing for a plurality of opinions. The forum appealed to the world public as a whole and concluded with a message of hope for the future of humanity, as stated in the declaration: AOnly when all human beings start to realize more fully their shared responsibility for our shared world can our belief be justified that what is hopeful in today=s world will one day prevail over what threatens us.@
Madeleine Albright Speaks at the Czech & Slovak Lecture
Madeleine Albright, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute and former U.S. Secretary of State, was the keynote speaker at the second annual "Czech and Slovak Lecture Series - the Czech and Slovak Legacy in the Struggle for Freedom."
The event, which was co-sponsored by the Czech and Slovak Embassies in Washington, The American Friends of the Czech Republic, The Friends of Slovakia, and the Woodrow Wilson Center, was held on November 19, 2001 in the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State and a native of Czechoslovakia, presented her lecture to an audience of more than one hundred guests. In her first comment to the assembled, she stressed that she was Athe first Czechoslovak-American secretary of state.@ Secretary Albright tackled the issue of terrorism and the current campaign against it in her speech, also mentioning the US-Russian relations in light of the current international situation: A. . . all of a sudden, the U.S. and Russia are strategic partners.@ Commenting on the future prospects for NATO,@ she said, A . . . we must move ahead with NATO enlargement.@ During a question and answer period, Secretary Albright stressed that she was proud of her ACzechoslovak roots.@ When asked if she would consider running for the post of Czech president, she responded, Adefinitely not.@
The 45-minute speech was recorded and televised twice on C-Span.
Also present at the lecture were Lee Hamilton, President of the Woodrow Wilson Center, who made the introductory remarks; Martin Butora and Martin Palous, Ambassadors of the Slovak and the Czech Republics; and guest of honor Mr. Petr Pithart, Chairman of the Senate of the Czech Republic. Later that evening, more than 130 guests attended the Czech and Slovak Lecture Dinner in honor of Secretary Albright and the Second Annual Czech and Slovak Lecture at the University Club.
Czech Leaders Welcome Positive Assessment
Ramiro Cibrian, head of the Delegation of the European Commission in Prague, announced that the Czech Republic has made considerable progress in its preparations for EU membership over the past year and that the country could be admitted to the EU in 2004.
The European Commission divided the candidate countries into five categories according to how they fulfil the economic criteria of EU membership. The Commission said that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are "functioning market economies."
Cibrian praised the acceleration of legal reform, the improvement of macroeconomic figures, and the completion of privatization of banks, but regretted the absence of a civil service law. Cibrian praised the planned privatization of the energy sector as well.
President Vaclav Havel welcomed the positive assessment of the Czech Republic in the EC annual report after meeting with Cibrian and the Czech chief negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka.
Premier Milos Zeman was pleased that the commission had included the Czech Republic among the countries with market economies. He accepted the report's evaluation of areas that need to be improved, including the absence of a law on civil service and the presence of corruption. Zeman promised that the government would ensure that all privatization's are transparent.
Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said that he was satisfied with the European Commission's assessment report on the Czech Republic. "Generally, I think that we are very satisfied because the report leads to the conclusion which corresponds to our ideas and our timetable," Kavan said. The Foreign Minister believes that "further measures concerning money laundering should be taken" in order to fight corruption and economic crime.
Czech Republic National Day at NATO SACLANT HQ
Members of the NATO SACLANT (Supreme Allied Command Atlantic) Headquarters, Norfolk Municipality Representatives, and many distinguished guests gathered on October 26, 2001 to pay tribute to the flag and the people of the Czech Republic - a country small in size but rich in culture and history, as well as an active participant in the resolution of problems of the modern world.
Organized by the NATO headquarters ACLANT (Allied Command Atlantic), the National Day flag raising ceremony is a great and long lasting traditional event. The ceremony provides an opportunity for all staff members and their families to celebrate the NATO member states whose officers serve at the headquarters along with many Americans. Since March 12, 1999 there has been an officer from the Czech Armed Forces at the headquarters, currently Lieutenant Colonel Milan Novotny, who started his tour of duty last summer.
The morning sun was shining beautifully as Supreme Commander General W.F. Kernan and the Czech Republic Defense Attache Major General Rostislav Kotil (who is also the National Liaison Representative to SACLANT) arrived to the ceremony to raise their national flags. The ACLANT Naval band played the US and Czech national anthems, followed by remarks from both generals on the occasion of the 83rd Anniversary of birth of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918.
General Kernan spoke of his high appreciation for the Czech Republic=s contribution to NATO activities since 1999, when the Czechs became members of the Alliance. The General also recalled his last visit to the Czech Republic and mentioned that, due to the horrible events of September 11, he was unable to complete his second visit that had been scheduled for mid-September.
Following General Kernan, General Kotil expressed his thanks to the ACLANT Command for arranging the ceremony and stressed that the month of October meant independence and freedom for Czechs and Slovaks, who had lived for centuries under the Austro-Hungarian rule. "It was October 28th, 1918 that a free, independent Czechoslovakia was born," he said. General Kotil also mentioned that it was in Pittsburgh in 1918 that Czech and Slovak organizations voted for the common state of Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Republic presently continues in the democratic tradition of Czechoslovakia and its strong ties with Western European Democracies and the United States of America. General Kotil also recalled that American soldiers of General Patton's Third Army, members of the 16th Armored Division, the 2nd Indian Head Infantry Division & others took part in the liberation of Czechoslovakia in 1945. Mementos from those days -- the End of WW II in the European Theater of Operations -- are all over the city of Plzen (Pilsen), where year after year local citizens demonstrate their deep feelings and appreciation for American soldiers and their meritorious gallantry.
The Czech Republic is ready to bear its share of the responsibility for the developments in Europe. The country dispatched its first peacekeeping military units to UNPROFOR in 1992. Since then, the Czech Republic has participated in many missions, following the Dayton Accord in the IFOR and SFOR operations which began in 1995 as part of the multinational force under NATO Command on the Territory of former Yugoslavia. Events that have occurred in recent years -- particularly the attacks on the US Embassies, the Oklahoma City Bombing, the suicide attack on the USS Cole and, most importantly, the events of September 11, have outlined the nature of future security concerns. Though the terrorist attacks on September 11th brought down skyscrapers in Manhattan and struck the Pentagon near Washington, their enormity touched the entire civilized world. The deaths of thousands of innocent people was a signal not only to superpowers, but also to other countries to contemplate anti-terrorist defenses. The tragic moments of September 11th made it clear to all of us that in recent years, the world had changed drastically.
General Kotil further elaborated that immediately after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Czech President Vaclav Havel offered his country's assistance to America. In addition, he said that along with the military operation "Enduring Freedom," the Czech Republic is ready to strengthen its commitment in the Balkans by building a combined Czech - Slovak mechanized battalion, should some US troops need to withdraw. Following a request from the USA, the Czech government provided a special operations unit, as well as chemical biological and hospital units to assist in the ongoing anti-terrorist operation.
"This may seem to be a modest contribution - yet it is well meant as an attempt to show how we feel about the USA and at the same time to demonstrate that our country is truly ready to fulfil its obligations as a member of the NATO Alliance," said General Kotil as he concluded his remarks.
Following the ceremony, SACLANT hosted a reception with a traditional "cake cut" and an evening reception, hosted by the Czech National Representative, where guests had a chance to taste delicious goulash and Pilsner Urquell beer.
In January 2002, ACLANT HQ will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation.
Prime Minister Zeman Visits the USA
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman visited the United States from November 4 to November 10, 2001. The Prime Minister=s visit to the USA included trips to San Francisco, CA; Austin, TX; Washington, DC; New York, NY and Stratford, CT.
Though the visit focused primarily on political and economic issues, a number of other topics were touched upon.
On November 9, Prime Minister Zeman met with President George Bush to discuss the anti-terrorism struggle and the upcoming Prague NATO summit in the fall of 2002.
While in San Francisco, Prime Minister Zeman concentrated on economic issues - he visited the National Semiconductors Corporation and the assembly line for Skoda trolley buses at Primus Transportation Company. The city of San Francisco will use a total of 273 Czech-made electric trolley buses, including 240 standard 40-foot trolley buses and 33 articulated 60-foot trolley buses B a project budget that amounts to USD 230 million. The buses= delivery began in May 2001 and should be completed by December 2002. Mr. Zeman also spoke at Stanford University on AThe Czech Republic and Europe in the Globalized World.@ The Prime Minister=s speech at the Commonwealth Club of California entitled, AThe Czech Republic in Enlarged Europe,@ was aired on National Public Radio.
In the city of Austin, Mr. Zeman visited the Motorola company to discuss the possibility of Motorola investing in the Czech Republic and had lunch with Deputy Mayor of the City of Austin and representatives of other Texas companies. On Wednesday, November 7, Prime Minister Zeman met with the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, in the afternoon.
Prime Minister Zeman subsequently spent two days in Washington, DC, where he held talks with President Bush (for details please see APresident Bush Receives Prime Minister Zeman@ on Page 1), with Vice-President Richard Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Henry Hyde (R-Illinois). The Prime Minister addressed the Northern Virginia Technology Council at the ATitans of Technology@ breakfast and had a meeting at the US Chamber of Commerce. In addition, his program included meetings with most of the senior representatives at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The final day of the Prime Minister=s US visit consisted of a trip to Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT and a meeting with the Czech-American community in New York City.
Prime Minister Zeman and the Czech delegation left the United States on November 10, 2001.
EC Labels the Czech Republic a Functioning Market Economy
Commenting on the European Commission progress assessment report, Prime Minister Milos Zeman stated that the Czech Republic has been labeled as a functioning market economy by the European Commission's recent report.
Zeman believes that the Czech Republic has managed to make considerable progress and that the report is clearly positive for the Czech Republic. "The last report included a seemingly discreet statement that the Czech Republic can be regarded as a functioning market economy . . . this year's report states that the Czech Republic is a functioning market economy," he said. Though the commission pointed to a number of shortcomings, the report was altogether more favorable than last year's.
Masaryk Bill Signed
President George W. Bush signed bill No. HR 1161 on Monday, November 5, authorizing the government of the Czech Republic to establish a memorial in honor of T. G. Masaryk, the first President of independent Czechoslovakia, on federal land in Washington, D.C. The potential site is a park located in front of the World Bank on Pennsylvania Avenue. United States Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) and Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) were the first to introduce the bill into the House of Representatives and Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) then introduced the bill into the Senate. On April 26, 2001, the National Capital Memorial Commission unanimously voted in support of the idea of the proposed memorial. In addition, on May 8, the House Sub-committee on National Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands also unanimously voted in support of the project. Thomas Masaryk is viewed by many as the best representation of the close ties between the United States and the Czech Republic. President Masaryk visited the U.S. several times throughout his lifetime and eventually signed the Czechoslovakian Declaration of Independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Pittsburgh, PA.
New Honorary Consulate Opens in Chicago
On November 20, 2001 a new Honorary Consulate of the Czech Republic commenced activities in Arlington Heights, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois.
The Consulate officially opened on Tuesday afternoon with a number of distinguished guests in attendance, including the President of the Czech Senate, the Honorable Petr Pithart; the Czech Ambassador to the USA, Mr. Martin Palous; Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka; former astronaut James Lovell, and many others.
George T. Drost of the Arlington Height=s law firm Drost, Kivlahan & McMahon, Ltd. has been appointed to the post of Honorary Consul.
Mr. Drost has nearly 30 years of legal experience, including a position with the U.S. Treasury Department and as a corporation counsel. Since 1989, Mr. Drost has been active in several initiatives to further enhance relations between the Czech Republic and the United States by serving on the faculty of the John Marshall Law School=s Czech Exchange Program as well as on the Council of Higher Learning.
Mr. Drost=s Czech roots date back to 1948, when his family fled the country in the wake of the communist takeover.
There are currently twelve honorary consulates of the Czech Republic on the territory of the United States. These are located in Atlanta, Anchorage, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Minneapolis/St.Paul, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland and San Francisco. A consulate in San Juan, Puerto Rico opened on December 3, 2000.
The new Honorary Consulate of the Czech Republic is located at :
Drost, Kivlahan & McMahon, Ltd.
11 South Dunton Ave.
Arlington Heights, IL 60005-1475
tel. 1-847-577 2227
fax 1-847-577 2204
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
AHumanitarian Fund For New York@ Donates Proceeds
On November 14, Mr. Jan Kavan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and Mr. Premysl Pela, Director of the Czech Center New York, presented the proceeds from the public "Humanitarian Fund for New York" drive to Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mayor of New York City. Mr. Hynek Kmonicek, Czech Ambassador to the United Nations, also attended the ceremony.
More than four-and-half million Czech crowns ($120,000 USD) were donated to The Twin Towers Fund, which was established by the City of New York. The Fund aims to assist and support the families of members of the uniformed services of the New York Fire Department and its Emergency Medical Service Command, the New York City Police Department, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and other government personnel who lost their lives or were injured on September 11th.
After the meeting with Mayor Giuliani, Mr. Pela stated, "The check we presented to the Mayor consists primarily of donations from individual Czech citizens, with a sizable contribution from the City of Prague."
The Czech Center New York and the Civic Initiative for the EU established the Humanitarian Fund for New York in Prague on September 14th, 2001.
Pittsburgh and Ostrava Sign Sister Cities Agreement
On November 14, 2001, the Mayor of Pittsburgh, Mr. Thomas Murphy, and the Lord Mayor of Ostrava, Mr. Cestmir Vlcek, executed a Sister Cities Agreement between the two "steeltowns." The sister city relationship opens a vast array of opportunities to exchange know-how in matters dealing with business, culture, the environment, education, and city administration, among others. Mr. Zdenko Trebula, Lord Mayor of Kosice in the Slovak Republic, home of U.S.Steel Kosice, also attended the event. November 14=s festivities began at the City Council chambers under the direction of Council President O'Connor. Both Mayors made brief statements and signed the agreement. The Chairman and C.E.O. of the USX Corporation (the parent company of U.S. Steel, which now operates U.S. Steel Kosice) hosted the reception at the Pittsburgh Renaissance Hilton Hotel. The Lord Mayor=s visit, as well as the signed Sister Cities Agreement, was coordinated by Mr. William Lafe, Program Director of the Central European Linkage Program. Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic in Philadelphia, Mr. Peter A. Rafaeli, represented the Czech Republic and Honorary Consul of Slovakia in Pittsburgh, Mr. John Senko, represented Slovakia at both events.
Czech Republic Ready to Provide Humanitarian Aid to Pakistan
Foreign Minister Jan Kavan told journalists in Copenhagen that the Czech Republic is ready to provide humanitarian assistance to Pakistan in response to the expected military conflicts in the region. After holding talks with his Danish counterpart, Mogen Lykketoft, Kavan said that the Czech government has agreed to send the aid to Pakistan. Kavan noted the dire need for Pakistan to be supported at this time, lest the country become unstable in the near future. The Foreign Minister also said that the international community must help Pakistan, which is the destination of a massive number of Afghan refugees. The Czech government has decided to set aside five million crowns for humanitarian assistance to the refugees. ($1=37 crowns)
Czech Republic to Provide Airspace to U.S. Planes
The Czech Republic will provide its airspace to U.S. planes in the ongoing process of the U.S. retaliation for the September 11 terrorist attacks. The U.S. had requested this act of the Czech Republic as a NATO ally. Other requests from the U.S. include the strengthening of cooperation with intelligence services, assistance to countries which are in potential danger due to their support of the anti-terrorism struggle, increased security at U.S. and other NATO countries' buildings, and the replacement of U.S. units in (for example) the Balkans. The Czech government accepted the U.S. requests. According to Prime Minister Zeman, the Czech Republic will also provide airports for the refueling of U.S. planes. Similar requests have also been made to neighboring NATO allies.
Government Agrees With U.S. NATO Requests
Prime Minister Milos Zeman said that the Czech government has agreed to all eight U.S. requests for aid in the anti-terrorism campaign. Soldiers from a special army unit in Prostejov, South Moravia, are among units that were offered by the government for the anti-terrorism action. Prime Minister Zeman said that part of one request is to extend the Czech SFOR mission in Bosnia. The Czech SFOR unit was originally scheduled to conclude its activities in Bosnia and the whole 5th mechanized battalion of about 600 soldiers was to return to the Czech Republic on September 15. The Czech contingent has been operating in Bosnia within SFOR since 1996. Zeman said that by keeping the Czech mission in Bosnia, the Czech Republic will allow U.S. troops to leave the region and take part in the anti-terrorism struggle.
Havel Expresses Absolute Support For U.S. Retaliatory Action
President Vaclav Havel expressed "absolute support" for the U.S. military action launched against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on September 11. "There is no reason to panic, people should be calm and patient," he said at a press conference. Premier Milos Zeman (CSSD) and Chamber of Deputies chairman Vaclav Klaus (ODS) also expressed support for the U.S. action. Havel stated that moments exist when "our freedoms" require certain sacrifices. If people want to enjoy their freedoms and civilization values, they must be ready to defend these values even with arm in hand. AThe United States and the allies have the full support of the Czech Republic, not only political and moral, but also military," stated government spokesperson Libor Roucek.
Government Ready To Find New Premises For RFE/RL
The Czech government is preparing to find a building where Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) could be moved if requested by the U.S. The U.S. Congress-financed non-profit radio station, which is located at the top of Wenceslas Square in downtown Prague, may be a potential target of terrorist attacks. According to Foreign Minister Kavan, there are several buildings in Prague and its suburbs that may be more suitable. Although the Americans would cover operation on the new premises, the Czech side would probably contribute to the station=s relocation. "If the sums were really so high that it could not be tackled within the current state budget, we would have to consult on it with the U.S. and of course with the Parliament of the Czech Republic," Minister Kavan said. Policemen and military personnel have guarded the building, which is the site of the former Federal Assembly (Parliament), since September 11. RFE/RL was founded in 1949 to spread uncensored news to countries behind the Iron Curtain and to promote democratic values.
Clinton Tells Havel He Supports Bush's Steps Against Terrorism
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton stated that he supports the war against terrorism launched by the Bush administration at a meeting with Czech President Vaclav Havel. President Clinton was in Prague to attend the Forum 2000 conference. Havel and Clinton spoke in detail about the U.S. air raids on Afghanistan, where Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden is said to be harbored. Havel and Clinton discussed further steps the West should take to crush world terrorism, including raising the standard of living and education in poor countries and providing aid. Havel and Clinton agreed that countries that lack democracy present the biggest risk.
Havel Signs Amendment to Constitution Allowing EU Accession
President Vaclav Havel signed an amendment to the Czech Constitution allowing the Czech Republic's EU integration. The amendment states that either a referendum or a vote in parliament will determine the Czech Republic's EU accession. In addition, the amendment says that according to the Constitution, it will be possible to delegate certain powers from some Czech authorities to international organizations such as the EU, provided that the delegation happens under an international agreement. Under this amendment, every international agreement to be ratified by the Czech Republic will automatically become part of its legislation. After the Czech Republic joins the EU, the government will have to regularly inform both houses of the Parliament about the planned EU bills so that the Czech Parliament can adopt a position and tell the government whether or not to agree with it. The ratification of an agreement on the transfer of some powers of Czech authorities to the EU will have to be preceded by a ruling of the Constitutional Court on whether the agreement is in keeping with the Czech constitutional arrangement.
Balvin Elected New Czech TV Director
The Czech Television Council elected Jiri Balvin, interim director of the public broadcaster Czech Television (CTV), General Director. Balvin=s rivals were TV Nova commercial television station program director Petr Sladecek and documentary filmmaker Martin Vadas. During a crisis in December 2000, the Czech TV staff refused to accept the appointment of Jiri Hodac as director, claiming he was politically biased and particularly in favor of the Civic Democrats (ODS). The staff occupied the newsroom and later went on strike, producing their own news casts. The situation was resolved when Hodac resigned and the Council was dismissed. Balvin was appointed interim director in February and a new Council was elected by parliament in May 2001.
Czech Soldiers To Join Enduring Freedom Operation
Approximately 300 Czech soldiers are scheduled to take part in the Enduring Freedom anti-terrorism operation of the U.S. led international coalition. According to Chief of Staff Jiri Sedivy, the unit will also be enlarged to include a part concerning biological capacities." Sedivy and Defense Minister Tvrdik said that the logistics would enable the unit to be deployed "thousands of kilometers" from central Europe. The cabinet has earmarked 1.1 billion crowns for the fight against terrorism, of which 700 million have been set aside for the Defense Ministry.
USA Asks Czechs For Chemical Protection Unit
U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Craig Stapleton asked Czech Premier Milos Zeman for a Czech anti-chemical unit to be sent to the U.S. led anti-terrorism campaign. Zeman has met the request, stated Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik. The chemical protection unit from Liberec, north Bohemia, which is a part of the NATO immediate reaction forces, was offered, together with a field hospital, to the allies by Premier Milos Zeman several weeks after the attacks.
House Committee Calls for RFE/RL Broadcasts to Afghanistan
The U.S. House of Representatives International Relations Committee proposed to launch a Radio Free Afghanistan station in connection with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty(RFE/RL). The proposal is yet to be voted on in a full session of the House of Representatives. If approved, the station would spread news and information throughout Afghanistan in local Afghan languages. Sonia Winterova, a spokesperson for RFE/FL, stated that RFE/RL would be ready "to do its best and fulfil the mandate" if the decision to broadcast is made.
Government Approves Bill on Unpaid Volunteer Service
The government approved a bill on unpaid volunteer service in the Czech Republic and abroad, which legally deals with the status of volunteers. According to the bill, civic associations, public-benefit organizations, church organizations and religious groups can be accredited. The bill also sets up a contract relationship between the volunteer and the organization.
Chamber of Deputies approves second version of 2002 budget bill
The Chamber of Deputies approved the second version of the government-proposed budget bill for the next year in the first reading. The new bill allocates more money to universities, the Defense, Ministry of the Interior and various regions. Apart from the ruling Social Democrats (CSSD), the second version was backed by the parliamentary allies Civic Democrats (ODS). Those who opposed the second version of the bill included the Coalition-of-Four (4K) and the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM).
Czech Republic in Favor of UNSC Reform
At the 56th U.N. General Assembly, the Czech Republic will promote issues such as U.N. Security Council reform, efficiency in the U.N. financing and management, the establishment of peace force training standards, and the implementation of targeted sanctions. An important part of the Czech delegation's agenda will be the preparation for the expected Czech presidency of the 57th U.N. General Assembly.
As for the U.N. Security Council, the Czech Republic supports the proposed increase in the number of the Council's standing and non-standing members and the preservation of its current and new members' right to veto. In the fields of prevention of conflicts and in the U.N. peace operations, the Czech Republic would also welcome a strengthening of U.N. conflict prevention and formation of capacities which would enable a quick reaction from the international community in hotbeds of tension.
USA to Give $12 Million to Czech Army Next Year
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill on the provision of security aid in which the Czech Army will receive $12 million from the U.S. budget next year and $14 million in 2003.
The Czech Ministry of Defense received $11.7 million from the USA this year. The money is being used, among other things, to finance the development of the communication and information systems and to improve the knowledge of foreign languages among soldiers.
Czechs are Forgetting Students= Contribution to Democracy
President Vaclav Havel said that the Czech society is forgetting the contribution of student movements to the democratization of the country. "It seems to me...that a syndrome of intentional oblivion has developed in the society," Havel told journalists. While student contribution has generally been acknowledged right after a movement, it is quickly forgotten afterwards. Havel attributed this to an "intentional oblivion syndrome" which is a defense against people=s fears of facing their own failures by ignoring movements and people that may bring about a bad conscience.
Elections Will Not Change the Czechs' Orientation Towards the EU
In a lecture on Czech foreign policy at Columbia University, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said that the Czech Republic will continue its EU accession no matter what government emerges in the Czech Republic after the next parliamentary elections. Kavan pointed out that the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) supported the Czech Republic's entry to the EU at its last conference. While the ODS does not question the necessity for the Czech Republic to enter the EU, it is discussing under what conditions and when it should enter the EU. Kavan said that the Czech Republic should be admitted to the EU in 2004.
Poll Shows 4K in the Lead
According to a poll conducted by the CVVM polling institute in November, the opposition Coalition-of-Four (4K) is in first place with 22.5 percent. It is followed by the governing Social Democrats, who came in second with 20 percent and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), who came in third with19 percent. Voter turn-out is expected to be about 72 percent.
USA Asks Prague for Intervention in Afghan Government Formation
The U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Craig Stapleton, asked Foreign Minister Jan Kavan if the Czech Republic could use its diplomatic contacts with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to assist in forming a new Afghani government. Stapleton proposed that the Czech Republic call on President Rabbani to strive to create a broad coalition of ethnic groups. Kavan supported the idea of establishing a very broad coalition government in Afghanistan.
Czechs to Join Stability Pact for South-East Europe
Czech Premier Milos Zeman announced that the Czech Republic will soon join the EU- initiated Stability Pact for south-east Europe. The goal of the Stability Pact is to boost political and economic revival in the Balkans. Czechs have already assisted in the economic revival of the Balkans, including supplying Karosa buses to Belgrade and helping to reconstruct the Yugoslav power station Kolubara. Bodo Hombach, the Pact=s coordinator, confirmed that the Czech Republic=s change in status from an observer to a full-fledged member of the Pact would help Czech entrepreneurs establish contacts and facilitate their access to the revival projects' financing.
Cabinet Approves Participation in Expo 2005 World Exhibition
The Czech government has decided that the Czech Republic will take part in the Expo 2005 world exhibition in Aichi, Japan. The basic concept of the world exhibition is the discovery of nature's wisdom. Expo 2005 will be orientated towards the environment, the growth of the world population, the supply of foodstuffs to humankind, and the basic idea of harmonizing human activities with the law of nature. Foreign Minister Jan Kavan was asked to submit a proposal within a month to appoint a government commissioner for the exhibition. It is expected that all EU member countries will confirm their participation at Expo 2005 by the beginning of next year.
Anti-monopoly Office Could Delay Energy Sector Privatization
The Czech government's ambitious plan to privatize the whole energy production and distribution sector in one huge package could now be delayed. In a recent ruling, the Czech Anti-Monopoly Office (UOHS) said the privatization project jeopardized competition in the industry. UOHS made a threat to intervene, raising fears that the long-awaited privatization of the nation's energy sector could be delayed again.
In a non-binding report, UOHS said fair-market competition in the Czech energy sector would be endangered if the government pushes ahead with the current plan to sell its majority stake in the dominant power utility CEZ together with transmission lines and six power distribution companies. Four foreign energy companies or consortiums are currently bidding for the multi-company package, which could yield the Czech government around 8 billion US dollars. A winner is expected to be picked and a deal signed by the end of the year. Analysts say UOHS can not stop the actual sell-off, but a possible monopoly-busting intervention is likely to delay and complicate the whole process. The regulators would have to approve a merger of CEZ with the distribution and transmission holdings before coming under the umbrella of a single energy company.
Prime Minister Focuses on US Businesses
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman visited California, Texas, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Stratford, CT on November 4 - 9, 2001. One of his main goals was to promote trade between the two countries and to attract U.S. investors to the Czech Republic.
In addition to talks with high-tech manufacturers such as Motorola and a number of companies in the Silicon Valley, Mr. Zeman also met with numerous business representatives in Austin, TX and at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
In San Francisco, the Prime Minister visited the trolley bus production facility of ETI. The company is a joint venture of the Czech industry giant Skoda Plzen and Maryland's AAI, manufacturing trolley buses for North American customers. The project in San Francisco was set up in 1996 when ETI won a public tender to supply 273 trolley buses for the San Francisco municipal transit system by the end of 2002, a $230 million contract. Skoda is one of the few world manufacturers of trolley buses and occupies an estimated 80-percent share of the global trolley bus market.
CEFTA to Liberalize Agricultural Trade
The prime ministers of the member states of the Central European Free Trade Agreement met in Bucharest, Romania, in mid-October to sign a new protocol on the liberalization of agrarian trade among the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The document, which the Czech government approved last week, reacts to a split opinion within the CEFTA group on the further liberalization of trade in agricultural commodities. While the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are in favor of further liberalization, other countries are considering the re-introduction of certain protectionist measures.
The seven members of the agreement - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia - also unanimously endorsed Croatia's interest in joining. Croatia sent its request for membership in July.
CEFTA covers a common market of more than 97 million people, with trade between member countries considerably increasing each year. Set up by Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, CEFTA aims to gradually abolish taxes and other trade regulations in order to boost trade between its members and prepare them for EU membership.
Energy Sector Privatization to Finish Soon
The Czech government is scheduled to finish the privatization of Czech energy production and distribution companies by December 14. The winners of the public tender will be selected and proposed to the cabinet by Deloitte & Touche.
Although all state-owned companies in the sector will be sold in one complete package, two regional distributors will be excluded. Substantial layoffs are expected to follow the privatization with up to 66 percent of the current employees likely to be made redundant. Newly laid off workers will be compensated for up to 13 months of wages in accordance with previously arranged collective agreements which strategic investors will have to observe.
CNB Approved Societe General=s Acquisition of KB
The French bank Societe General acquired a 60 percent stake in the leading Czech bank, Komercni Banka, at the price of CZK 40 billion ($ 1.1 billion). The Czech National Bank gave the transaction official approval on October 2nd and Societe General assumed managerial control of Komercni Banka a week later.
Finance Ministry Upgrades GDP Outlook
The Czech Ministry of Finance has upgraded its economic performance outlook for this year. The ministry expects GDP to grow by 3.7 percent in 2001, up from the previous forecast of 3.6 percent. The Ministry has maintained its prediction for 2002 of 3.8 percent GDP growth. However, some negative factors remain, such as the development of foreign trade and the possible impact of the world-wide decline on the operation of production facilities of foreign companies in the Czech Republic. Both the Czech National Bank and the IMF are more cautious in their predictions, expecting this year's GDP growth to reach 3.6 and 3.3 percent respectively.
October 10 The unemployment rate remained at 8.5 percent in September, a number which is 0.3 percent lower than in the same period of 2000. The percentage of recent school graduates among those registered at labor offices increased to nearly 15 percent, but the figure is expected to drop again in the coming months. The lowest unemployment rate remains in Prague and surrounding regions of Central Bohemia at around three percent. The highest number of jobless people - more than 15 percent - was reported in the North Bohemian and North Moravian industrial and coal-mining regions, with the highest figure in the area of Most at over 21 percent.
October 12 The energy producer CEZ is planning to launch a large-scale media campaign worth millions of dollars in preparation for the country's approaching January 2002 electricity market liberalization. CEZ has already begun an advertising campaign worth CZK 2 million on the CNN international news network in an attempt to attract foreign investors for its upcoming privatization.
October 15 The dominant Czech dairy goods distributor Alimpex announced that it has teamed up with Germany's leading yogurt manufacturer Ehrmann to establish Ehrmann Stribro, a joint venture expected to increase daily output of processed milk from the current 40,000 gallons to 53,000 gallons within one year.
October 16 In an attempt to transfer a 51 percent stake in the telecommunications firm Ceske Radiokomunikace to the Bivideon consortium, which consists of Denmark's TDC and Deutsche Bank, the Czech government agency National Property Fund (NPF) signed a privatization agreement. Bivideon will pay the NPF CZK 6.8 billion ($190 million) for the deal.
October 17 Some 26 percent of the Czech population has access to the Internet (11.1 percent can access the Internet from their homes and 15.2 percent from elsewhere), according to a poll conducted by TN SofresFactum.
October 18 Czech Airlines (CSA) announced a passenger increase of some 12 percent year-on-year in September 2001, while the Association of European Air Transport Operators posted a 13 percent drop in the number of passengers using their services in the same period. However, CSA added that it had originally expected a larger increase and said that in the first week of October, the growth in passenger numbers was only 3.5 percent annually.
October 19 Skoda Auto, the Czech unit of Volkswagen, reported that sales rose 13.5 percent from last year to 356,724 cars in the first three quarters despite a slowing growth in Western Europe. Skoda, the country's largest exporter, said that domestic sales rose 9.9 percent to 63.636 cars, representing a 54 percent market share. Sales in Western Europe increased 14.1 percent to 192,318 units, while exports to Central and Eastern Europe jumped 22.9 percent to 89,792. Skoda aims to produce 460,000 to 470,000 cars this year, up from 435,403 in 2000.
October 22 A list of names of potential buyers of Unipetrol should be presented soon. Almost twenty companies and consortiums have already shown interest in a 63% state-held stake in the petrochemical group Unipetrol. Among the most serious bidders are Austria's OMV, Hungary's MOL and TVK, and Russia's Sibur and Tyumen Oil, as well as Canada's Norex Petroleum and the Czech firm Agrofert. The government will select the winner of the tender by the year's end. The revenues from the sale are expected to amount to almost CZK 16 billion ($450 million).
October 23 The country's largest gas supplier Benzina again announced a cut of petrol prices by CZK 1. The reduction comes as prices of unleaded gas and diesel dropped a week earlier.
October 24 McDonald's Czech Republic, which runs 61 restaurants in the country, posted sales of CZK 488 million ($14 million) in the third quarter. The sales increased 9.4 percent compared to last year. Some 9.2 million customers have been served this year. The company has recently opened two new outlets in Ostrava and Brno.
October 29 The Czech crown has strengthened recently to record high levels. In the first three weeks of October, the exchange rate fluctuated between 36.28 and 36.66 per US dollar, and the crown was the strongest since January 2001. At the same time, the crown traded at around 33.50 per Euro. An expected strong inflow of foreign investments into the Czech Republic will push the Crown-EURO exchange rate even lower.
November 1 Czech exports to Slovakia increased 22 percent in the first nine months of 2001 to CZK 74.5 billion, or about 8 percent of the country's exports. Imports from Slovakia to the Czech Republic have also increased by approximately three percent to CZK 55.9 billion. The data indicates Czech trade surplus of over CZK 18 billion. The only other country that the Czech Republic exported more to was Germany. Many Czech businesses are looking for new markets in Slovakia - this increase in business between the two countries was one item on the agenda of Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman's visit to Bratislava in November.
November 5 The Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU) has released the conditions for a planned auction of the 3rd-generation mobile network licenses to be awarded by December 14. The only condition concerning the launch of UMTS services is that commercial UMTS services must achieve 90-percent coverage of the country's capital city Prague by January 2005. CTU suggested that the initial price will be set at CZK 6.7 billion per license, the same price as the office repeatedly requested in public tenders for the licenses B a price which all the three operators refused to pay.
November 6 Czech producer prices grew 0.7 percent in October, slightly higher than market expectations. In year-on-year terms, the producer price index increased by 1.3 percent as compared to 5.9 percent in October 2000. The Czech Statistical Office (CSU) said the increase was largely due to the introduction of winter-season rates of electricity.
November 7 According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the US-based steel company USX-U.S. Steel may be interested in acquiring Czech steel makers Nova Hut and Vitkovice. The U.S. company took over the core steel-making operations of troubled steel maker VSZ in neighboring Slovakia late last year and the two Czech steel makers (nearing privatization) would make a good fit, observers say. Czech Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Miroslav Somol said the interest of U.S. Steel is understandable, because the production of Nova Hut and Vitkovice corresponds to the product line of USX.
November 8 The Czech Republic closed the chapter on free movement of labor in its accession talks with the EU after lengthy negotiations. The issue of free movement of labor, effectively allowing workers from an acceding country to seek employment in countries like Germany or France, has thus far been the most controversial part of the negotiations between Brussels and candidate countries. While some of the front-runners, such as Poland and Hungary, have concluded the chapter, accepting temporary restrictions for their workers seeking jobs in the current member states, the Czech Republic has fought on and eventually managed to negotiate more favorable conditions for free movement of labor than the other candidate countries. The Czech Republic agreed on a provision enabling EU countries to limit the number of Czechs seeking work in the EU for the next 2 to 7 years. At the same time, the Czech Republic managed to protect its own labor market against an influx of cheap labor from the other member countries.
November 12 The Czech Tax Office recently concluded a special operation in which large and medium-sized companies in Prague were raided and their books examined to see whether they were paying their VAT. The six-week operation was called on by the Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok and is considered to be a success. There is talk of similar raids being carried out in other parts of the Czech Republic.
November 13 Czech Airlines (CSA) expects to end this year in the red. CSA president Miroslav Kula said the company was certain to suffer a loss, the only question being how large. CSA has lost millions of dollars and Mr. Kula said it was very difficult to compensate for the revenue decline after the events of September 11.
November 16 The Lower House of the Czech Parliament passed the government's second budget draft for 2002 in the first reading. The budget envisages a deficit of nearly CZK 47 billion, while expenditures are estimated at 737 billion and revenues at 690 billion. The House rejected the first version of the state budget in mid-October and asked the government to rewrite it, criticizing the large deficit and unrealistic revenue structure. Parliamentary committees will now discuss individual chapters of the budget. The final vote is expected before the end of the year.
November 21 The government approved an increase in the minimum wage. From the first of January the least a full-time employee can be paid is CZK 5,700, or just over 150 US dollars a month. The government hopes the move will encourage some unemployed people to get back into the workforce.
November 22 The Czech Crown (CZK) broke its record high rate against the Euro several times this week - on Thursday it stood at 33.215 against the Euro. Analysts expect that the CZK will remain steady and say it is unlikely to break through the 33.00 CZK to the Euro mark this year, due to fears that the Czech National Bank would take corrective measures. Czech exporters are complaining that the strong CZK is making their export operations difficult.
November 26 A change in ownership and a marketing redesign is expected to result in a 20 percent increase in export sales by year's end for Prague's largest brewer, Prazske Pivovary, the maker of Staropramen. The company said that a very patient and focused effort to build relationships with restaurants in major European cities have boosted sales. One market at a time, the company plans to become the No. 1 Czech exporter, a goal that would mean facing the country's two largest beer exports, Budweiser-Budvar and Pilsner, head on. Although Prazske Pivovary, part of the Belgian group Interbrew, makes a variety of beers, the Staropramen brand accounts for 95 percent of its exports.
November 27 The Czech Ministry of the Interior signed a CZK 557 million contract with light arms manufacturer Ceska Zbrojovka for 46,000 pistols for the Czech Police. The deal was closed after a five-year delay, caused by sample malfunctions. Police will get 1,000 CZ-75D model guns by the year-end; the rest will be delivered later. Ceska Zbrojovka also sells firearms in the United States through its branch CZ-USA in Kansas City.
November 28 The Czech National Bank (CNB) cut its key interest rates by a larger-than-expected 50 basis points to counteract the impact of the economic slump in Europe and the falling domestic inflation. The cut brings the Czech rate cycle in line with its neighbors in Central Europe, who have been easing policy in the face of the softening economic environment. The cut brought the key repo rate to a new low of 4.75 percent. The bank was widely expected to cut 25 basis points after the slowing economic growth abroad after the September 11 attacks in the United States, which raised risks for domestic growth and slashed inflation forecasts. Analysts said the bank was aiming to hit the strong CZK currency with the larger cut.
November 29 The price of household utilities will rise by a maximum of 9.9 percent in 2002, according to the Energy Regulation Office (ERU). ERU said that the introduction of regionally differentiated prices might cause problems for some income groups in certain regions. For the first time ever, the price of electricity will vary by region. The price of gas for households will rise by an average of 5.1 percent, but will also vary regionally.
November 29 The Czech Republic has negotiated two permanent and three temporary exemptions from EU tax laws. The EU has granted permanent exemption from minimum tax levels for distillers of fruit based alcohol and for small business persons who earn less than CZK 1.2 million per year and do not register as VAT (value added tax) payers. The EU also agreed to allow the Czech Republic to keep the VAT rate for housing construction at 5 percent until 2007 and granted temporary exemptions for the VAT rates on cigarettes and domestic heating.
November 30 The Czech National Property Fund (NPF) and the French group Pernod Ricard/Salb signed a sale contract for the liquor maker Becherovka worth CZK 1.38 billion ($37 million). The sale, approved early in November, will give Pernod a majority in the Czech distiller. The French group currently owns 30 percent and the government is selling an additional 59 percent.
Oscar Candidate Selected
Jan Sverak=s film, Dark Blue World (Tmavomodry svet), has been chosen by the members of the Czech Film and Television Academy as the Czech Republic=s candidate for the Oscar for best foreign-language film. This is Sverak=s third nomination. Sverak was first nominated in 1992 for his film, Elementary School (Obecna skola), and then again for his 1996 film, Kolya, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.
Ladislav Sutnar Awarded the State Medal of Merit
On October 28, 2001, Czech President Vaclav Havel awarded the State Medal of Merit to Mr. Ladislav Sutnar (in memoriam). His son, Radoslav Sutnar received the award on his behalf.
Born in Pilsen in 1897, Ladislav Sutnar was a pioneer in the field of design, both in the former Czechoslovakia and in the United States, where he came to settle in 1939.
In Czechoslovakia, Mr. Sutnar's publications and designs, as well as his organizational and teaching activities, shaped the unique form of Czech functionalism. Likewise, his career as a designer for graphics and everyday objects such as cutlery, tableware, toys and textiles was internationally recognized. An organizer and architect of Czechoslovak exhibitions abroad, he was an important international official representative of Czechoslovak applied arts.
Here in the United States, Ladislav Sutnar is considered to be an innovator in the orchestration of information systems, marketing and design. Indeed, he anticipated the future developments of visual communications and corporate identity projects and created design systems for a range of American corporations, including J.C. Penny, Knoll, American Standard, and the Bell Telephone Company, among others. His American books, Catalog Design Progress, Package Design, and Visual Design in Action, formulated the basic principles of modern graphic design and in his later years, he was also known as a painter. Both stages of his work ranked among the top in world design production.
Though Ladislav Sutnar passed away in New York in 1976, his work remains the product of an innovative and versatile designer, organizer, and theoretician whose talents make him a worthy recipient of the State Medal of Merit Award.
Events at the Embassy
Continuing through February 18
EXHIBIT Photographs from INCOGNITO, a collection of works by Antonin Kratochvil will be on display weekdays from 9-5 and evenings during events.
Tuesday, January 15
CONCERT The Czech Music Series presents the twelfth in the popular series of chamber concerts with Washington Musica Viva under the direction of Carl Banner. Lina Bahn, violin, Lisa Ponton, viola, Lori Barnet, cello, and Carl Banner, piano will perform a program that includes Bedrich Smetana's Piano Trio Op. 15, Vitezslav Novak's Cello Sonata Op. 68, and Antonin Dvorak's D Major Piano Quartet, Op. 23. 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.
Wednesday, January 29
LITERATURE The Czech Embassy and the SCENA Theatre celebrate the birthday of the great Czech writer Karel Capek with a stage reading of The Insect Play, a work co-written with his brother Josef. A leading novelist, playwright, author and columnist from the first half of the twentieth century, Karel Capek's plays have been performed on Broadway and his writings have been translated worldwide. 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. This event will be 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.
Tuesday, February 19
LITERATURE In his latest work, House of Returned Echoes, author Arnost Lustig presents a fictionalized yet haunting memoir of his father who perished in Auschwitz. Born in 1926, Lustig remains one of the greatest living Czech authors -- a winner of many literature prizes, he has written eighteen books and his works have been translated into twenty languages. In 1986, his screenplay, "The Precious Legacy" won an Emmy award for best film script for a documentary. A presentation by the author and a booksigning will take place at 7:00 p.m. at Politics and Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave, NW.
Saturday, February 23
PRESENTATION Following in the ancient Czech tradition of wood-turning, artist Jan Honza will open an exhibition of his wooden objects and lead a workshop for children and adults in his craft. Reaching into the depths of their imaginations, participants can try their own hand at designing and creating wooden fantasy characters at the workshop. In addition, adults will assist children with woodcarving, drilling, hammering, and building. This event is held in collaboration with the Smithsonian Associates. From 1 - 4 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. For tickets, please call 202-357-3030 and refer to code: 4A0-070.
February 23 - March 18
EXHIBIT Jan Honza's wooden objects will be on display from February 23 through March 18. For more information, please see details about the event on February 23. The artist will be present during his workshop on February 23. W
Czech Events Around the USA
Video Thursday at the Czech Center
Who Wants to Kill Jessie (Kdo chce zabit Jessie), directed by Vladimir Vorlicek 1966, 81 min., English subtitles. A sci-fi comedy in which a female scientist invents a dream manipulation machine and decides to try it out on her husband. She finds that he is having dreams about a gorgeous comic-strip character called Jessie and two villainous characters who are out to get her... Starring Jiri Sovak, Dana Medricka and Olga Schoberova.
The Czech Film series at YIVO Institute of Jewish Research Continues (held in cooperation with the Czech Center New York)
The Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, NYC - Tickets: $7.00/ Students and seniors $3.50, Box Office: (917) 606-8200. For more information on specific programs call (212) 246-6080 or visit www.yivoinstitute.org
A Trial in Prague (Prazsky proces)
Documentary film about the infamous Slansky communist trial directed by Zuzana Justman. In English, Czech, French with English subtitles. Post-screening discussion with Zuzana Justman
Divided We Fall (Musime si pomahat)
Oscar nominated black comedy about Czechoslovakia during Nazi occupation directed by Jan Hrebejk. In Czech with English subtitles. Post-screening discussion with Arnost Lustig, novelist, screenwriter, and professor of literature and film at American
Czech Voice of Cleveland with Joe Kocab on WRMR AM/850 11AM-12PM
WERE AM/1300 1-2PM
December 20 - January 6
GOH Productions in association with Anne & Fay=s House Children's Theatre presents The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre=s production of A Christmas Carol, Oy! Hanukkah, & Merry Kwanzaa and (as a separate performance) Winter Tales With Strings. At the Jan Hus Playhouse, 351 East 74th Street - between 1st and 2nd Avenues.
For information on prices and showtimes for the separate shows, please call 212.330.8866 or visit www/members.aol.com/czechmarionettes
Karlin Wednesday Dances hosts a Clubroom Christmas Party (special Friday date) with music by Frank Moravcik
8 - 12 PM
Karlin Hall and Club, 5304 Fleet Avenue, Cleveland, OH.
For reservations, please call 216.429.2450. For more details, call 216.883.4760
The C.S.P.S. Hall hosts The Rose Ensemble: Slavic Holiday, a concert of music from ancient Poland and Czechoslovakia with cabaret-style seating and kolace and wine post-concert reception. Seating is limited, reservations will be taken. At the C.S.P.S. Hall, 383 Michigan-St. Paul., 8 PM
Tickets are $18, $10 for students, seniors and any person of limited means
For information, please call 651.225.4340
The Czech and Slovak Silvester celebrates the New Year with music, food and televised entertainment from Prague and Bratislava.
At the Old World Village Festival Hall, 7561 Center Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Admission is $55 in advance, $65 at the door
For more information or to make a reservation, please call 310.328.2002
Sokol Cedar Rapids hosts a Sokol Unit Meeting
417 3rd Street, S.E., Cedar Rapids, IA 52401, 7:15 PM
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library hosts Learn at Lunch. Bring a sack lunch and learn about Czech and Slovak traditions.
WFLA Heritage Hall, Cedar Rapids, Noon
Admission is free
For more information, please contact 319.362.8500
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library hosts Life Long Learning. Miss Czech-Slovak USA Lisa Volesky will talk about the important role youth play in preserving Czech and Slovak heritage.
WFLA Heritage Hall, Cedar Rapids
2 - 4 PM
Admission is free
For more information, please contact 319.362.8500
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library hosts Kava a Knihy (Coffee and Books) with an exploration of I Am Snowing: The Confessions of a Woman of Prague by Pavel Kohout.
WFLA Heritage Hall, Cedar Rapids, 12 PM
Admission is free
For more information, please contact 319.362.8500