Czech the News

April - May, 2002 (this is a double issue featuring the visit of Prime Minister Milos Zeman in the USA)

Contents :

Message from the Ambassador

Prime Minister Zeman Visits the USA and Mexico

Parliamentary Elections One Month Away

Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal visits the USA

Czech Prime Minister Visits Baxter International

Premier Zeman Meets Honorary Consuls in Miami

News Digest

Prime Minister Zeman Promotes Trade Ties

SAB - Miller Could Boost Pilsner Sales

Crown Hits New Heights

Kroje Dance into National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library

Profile: George Novak

Ambassador Palous Visits Moravian College

Czechs Embrace Lacrosse

Events at the Embassy


Message from the Ambassador

A Central European Point of View on the Gap between the Past and the Future

In the beginning of the 1990’s, the rediscovery of Central Europe after decades of oblivion and the return of her post-communist countries to the family of democratic nations made headlines internationally and was considered to be a truly major breakthrough in contemporary political history. Thirteen years after such a series of democratic revolutions in that part of the world, the situation is dramatically different. Not only are “post-totalitarian” states changing due to their more or less successful transition, return to Europe, or reinvention of their identities — now the storm of change has hit the whole world. Now, we all live in a “post 9/11” situation and are coping with the new agendas brought to us under the label of “globalization.” As a part of this process, we see a political architecture emerging in Europe and in the whole world, an architecture that goes far beyond the ideas we might have had at the end of 1989 or in the beginning of 1990. Undoubtedly, NATO still is, as it was in the heyday of the Cold War, the core institution to secure European freedom against all possible threats, but it is expanding massively to the East and undergoing a profound transformation. Will NATO survive as a strong and efficient defense organization, or rather is it in the process of withering away, diluted by expansions and melting down in the changed security environment? New relationships have to be discussed and shaped within the transatlantic community, based on common interests and common values. New cooperative models are being created for a peaceful coexistence with the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. New capabilities are being defined and built to gradually win the war against international terrorism, something that represents an even worse threat to human dignity and freedom than the previous forms of totalitarianism.

The security debate is in full swing in the spring of 2002, both here in Washington and on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Where is Central Europe’s place in all of this? Are Central Europeans — who in the past had become used to finding themselves unpleasantly sandwiched between the East and the West, who experienced four long decades of Babylonian captivity in the Soviet Empire, and who after 1989 started to believe that they had finally managed to escape their geopolitical lot — are they capable of playing an active role in the grand game of international politics today? It certainly is an open question; Central Europe can remain a relevant player in the contemporary world, under the condition that her nations will be able to free themselves from fascination with their own narrow-minded, often isolationist Central European perspectives, and to act in concert, sticking to broadly conceived, balanced, and genuinely transatlantic (i.e. both pro-European and pro-American) foreign policies. Thirteen years later, Central Europeans are advised not to indulge in their own weaknesses, “small” mentalities or somewhat narcissistic idiosyncrasies. Instead, they are encouraged to formulate their “national interests” in light of their reflections of the past and in good faith that Central Europe has the enormous potential to shape not only her own future, but that of the whole free world. They should try to have a clear, realistic vision of the future that can be discussed and shared with their main partners and allies, and to act accordingly.

Undoubtedly, the events that we expect and are preparing for in this year, particularly the NATO summit in Prague, will be a very important indication as to where we stand and what our Central European future will be. I have hope that the potential is not only out there, but that we will be able to complete the mission that we have been charged with as newcomers, or as returnees, to the free world. A sober skepticism and a critical mind definitely belong among the virtues of an open society. But above all, trust and faith are necessary conditions for us to successfully complete our long journey from totalitarian enslavement. It is certainly not for our own satisfaction that we have finally undone the past and reversed the adversities of our modern history; rather, we have set a positive example of democratic transition for the others who are still waiting for their chance at liberation in this changing world at the beginning of the 21st century.



Prime Minister Zeman Visits the USA and Mexico

Mr. Milos Zeman, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, visited the United States in late March and early April 2002. His working visit to the USA included a stay in the city of Chicago from March 31 to April 2, followed by a trip to Los Angeles on April 3. After his visit to California, Mr. Zeman went to Mexico, where he met with Mexican President Mr. Vicente Fox. Before returning to the Czech Republic, Mr. Zeman and the Czech delegation stopped in Miami for a half-day visit.

Prime Minister Zeman was accompanied by Mr. Miroslav Gregr, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, Mr. Jiri Rusnok, Minister of Finance, and a Trade Mission composed of more than twenty senior executives from various Czech companies seeking business opportunities in the USA.

Unlike his last trip in November 2001, which focused mainly on political meetings with President George W. Bush and other senior members of the Bush administration, Mr. Zeman’s April trip focused on the economic dimension of Czech-American relations. The visit centered on bringing more U.S. investment into the Czech Republic and on strengthening business ties between the Czech Republic and the USA.

Mr. Zeman also met with Illinois Deputy Governor Matt Bettenhausen and Illinois State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka.

While in Chicago, the Prime Minister met with Mr. Harry Kraemer, the CEO of Baxter, a producer of vaccines and other medical supplies, with whom he discussed Baxter’s further expansion in the Czech Republic via its growing international operations.

On April 2, Mr. Zeman officially opened the session of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Later that day, he addressed a distinguished audience at a lunch organized by the Mid-America Committee regarding “the Czech Republic in an Integrated Europe.”

That same day, the Czech delegation of private sector executive officers attended a business breakfast at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce entitled “Czech Trade.”

Prime Minister Zeman’s visit to Chicago also included a stop at the Great Lakes Naval Base, and last, but not least, a visit to the statue of Karel Havlicek Borovsky on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Mr. Zeman and the Czech delegation left for Los Angeles on April 2. Their program in southern California included a business breakfast and a seminar at the World Trade Center Association (Mr. Zeman attended with Mr. Gregr, Minister of Industry and Trade and Mr. Martin Jahn, Director of CzechInvest). Prime Minister Zeman addressed the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and then held a press reception at the hotel.

In the evening hours, Mr. Zeman and his delegation left for a three-day state visit to Mexico. In Mexico, Premier Zeman signed agreements with Mexican President Vicente Fox to encourage mutual investment and to increase commercial exchange between Mexico and the Czech Republic. He also met with Mexican business leaders and lay a wreath at the statue of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of independent Czechoslovakia.

Before returning to the Czech Republic on April 6, Mr. Zeman stopped in Florida and spent half a day in Miami. The highlights of his visit to Miami included a business round-table discussion between the Czech Republic and Florida, as well as a meeting with the Honorary Consuls of the Czech Republic, a particularly enjoyable event.

Mr. Zeman and the Czech delegation left the United States on April 6, 2002

Parliamentary Elections One Month Away

Thursday, June 13, from 2 to 9 p.m.

Friday, June 14, from 2 to 9 p.m.

The elections to the Lower House of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, scheduled for June 14 & 15 in the Czech Republic, will take place on June 13 and 14, 2002 in the USA (to compensate for the time difference between North America and Europe). As announced, these elections will be open to Czech citizens abroad. Czechs abroad will be able to cast their votes at Czech Embassies and Consulates throughout the world. The Czech Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Consulates General in New York and Los Angeles will serve as polling stations in the United States.

All Czechs abroad who participate in the elections will vote for candidates from the South Moravian region, as decided by a random draw in February 2002.

Registered voters must appear in person at the Czech Embassy in Washington or at the Consulate General in New York or Los Angeles on June 13 or 14 to participate. A valid Czech passport and/or Czech I.D. (obcansky prukaz) must be presented at the time of voting.

For more information on the elections in both English and in Czech, please see the Embassy web page at


Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal visits the USA

Czech Minister of Culture Pavel Dostal paid a visit to the United States in March, making stops in several major cities.

Minister Dostal began his trip in Los Angeles, where he met with film producers to discuss possibilities for further collaboration with Czech filmmakers. During the last couple of years, the Czech Republic has become a popular destination for filmmakers, many from the USA.

Following his time in California, Minister Dostal visited the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he toured the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library (NCSML). The Museum was officially opened in 1994 by presidents Havel, Clinton, and Kovac and plays a very important role in preserving Czech cultural heritage in the USA. After visiting the library and exhibits, Minister Dostal expressed his great appreciation for the institution’s efforts and promised further support from the Czech government. The director of the National Gallery in Prague will also visit the museum in the future to discuss possibilities for lending some of the Gallery’s exhibits to the NCSML.

Minister Dostal’s next stop was New York City, where he attended a gala concert by the Prague Castle Guard and Police Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The concert was sponsored by the Czech government and dedicated to the NY firefighters and rescue workers who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks last September. During his stay in New York, Minister Dostal also officially launched the reconstruction of the Bohemian Hall in Manhattan. The government of the Czech Republic has allocated 300 million crowns to save the building and make it a locale for events and meetings for Czechs living in America, as well as a new dynamic center for cultural exchange and trade promotion between the Czech Republic and the USA. In the future, the Bohemian National Hall will house the Consulate General of the Czech Republic, the Czech Center, and the offices of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association. There will also be a museum dedicated to the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak on the premises, as well as a Czech restaurant.

Minister Dostal culminated his visit to the USA by meeting with representatives of the American Friends of the Czech Republic, an organization based in Washington, DC. There he was informed about the current status of the project to build a memorialal. He also visited the site where Masaryk’s statue will be raised and unveiled during President Vaclav Havel’s visit to the USA in September of this year.

Czech Prime Minister Visits Baxter International

The health care company Baxter International hosted Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and his 21-person delegation during the Prime Minister’s visit to Chicago in April. Baxter announced plans to open a new influenza vaccine production facility in March, located 19 miles east of Prague in the town of Bohumile, where it has acquired a new 70,000 square foot plant. Baxter acquired the plant from the government entity SVAC. The plant will be completed and licensed by 2004 and is expected to employ approximately 200 scientific and technical professionals.

Premier Zeman Meets Honorary Consuls in Miami

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman met with eight Honorary Consuls of the Czech Republic in Miami on April 7, 2002. The meeting, organized on the occasion of Mr. Zeman’s working visit to the USA, lasted almost an hour and focused mainly on the exchange of information and opinions between the Czech Prime Minister and the Honorary Consuls. Mr. Zeman thanked the Consuls on behalf of the Czech government and the people of the Czech Republic for their contribution to enhancing Czech-American relations and for helping Czech citizens in need of assistance while visiting the USA.

The following day, the Honorary Consuls took part in an annual meeting with officials from the Czech Embassy in Washington and both Consulate Generals in New York and Los Angeles. The keynote speaker of this one-day meeting was Mr. Martin Palous, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United States. Ambassador Palous welcomed the Honorary Consuls and informed them about the current situation in the Czech Republic. He also spoke briefly about what lay ahead for the Czech Embassy in the near future. After the Ambassador’s opening remarks, the floor was given to the Consuls to summarize their activities over the past year. During the Consuls’ remarks, various issues were raised, not only consular, but also economic and cultural. Overall, the co-operation between the Honorary Consuls and the Embassy and Consulate officials was productive and fruitful. However, the need for closer contact on certain pressing issues and closer communication while solving specific problems was expressed and will be addressed further in the future.

The afternoon session consisted of presentations by Consul of New York Roman Masarik, Consul of Los Angeles Daniela Vyzvaldova and Washington Consul Richard Krpac. Cultural Counselor of the Embassy Eduard Metela and Commercial Counselor Jiri Kulis followed the dialogue with their own remarks.

The final discussion tackled many issues that had already been mentioned during the day, particularly issues of a consular nature. Other questions addressed the issue of economic contacts and business opportunities for Czech companies in the U.S. market.

As always, it was enjoyable for the Czech officials to see the Honorary Consuls and to hear from them - their work greatly benefits the Czech Republic and is truly appreciated. Once again, thank you, Honorary Consuls, for the time and energy you devote to the Czech Republic and good luck in the future.

Special appreciation must be expressed to Mr. Alan Becker, Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Miami, who co-hosted and co-organized the meeting.

News Digest

Deployment of Czech Field Hospital to Afghanistan Approved

March 5 British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said that the Czech offer to dispatch a field hospital within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to Afghanistan has been approved. Hoon said experts are now solving “practical questions” pertaining to issues such as transportation and the location of the hospital in Kabul.

First Group of Twenty Soldiers Leaves for Kuwait

March 7 A group of 20 soldiers from the Liberec-based anti-chemical unit left for Kuwait. They will set up radio and telegraph connections, prepare accommodations, and manage the transport of equipment and material in preparation for the mid-March arrival of more than 200 soldiers from their unit.

Havel and Sezer Agree on NATO Enlargement

March 7 Czech President Vaclav Havel and his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, presented similar views on NATO enlargement and the fight against terrorism during Sezer’s three day visit to the Czech Republic. Havel said NATO should offer membership to Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at the November summit in Prague. Havel and Sezer also discussed Ankara’s effort to come closer to the EU.

Czech-German Fund for the Future Approves 135 New Projects

March 11 The administrative board of the Czech-German Fund for the Future, whose goal is to improve understanding between the two nations, approved 135 projects worth more than 608,000 EURO at its meeting in Berlin. The projects include rehabilitation measures for seniors from the German minority living in the Czech Republic. The fund will also support the reconstruction of the facade of St.Valentin church in Bravantice, as well as supporting an exhibition on samizdat culture in Central and Eastern Europe.

Senate Returns Bill on Czech Radio to Chamber of Deputies

March 13 The Senate returned a bill on Czech Radio to the Chamber of Deputies. The senators’ main objection to the bill was that it would considerably increase political influence on the public radio station. The senators proposed that a new code be approved by the Czech Radio Council and not by deputies. They would like to preserve the current system, in which the council is elected for five years, but want candidates for council members to be nominated by civic associations, as is the case with the Czech Television Council. The senators would also like to abolish the Czech Radio Supervisory Commission, which is seen as an unnecessary and expensive institution.

Havel Signs Law Declassifying StB Files

March 14 People will now be able to see most of the documents of the Communist-era StB secret service, a result of a law signed by President Vaclav Havel allowing the opening of the archives. Havel told the Senate that he had signed the law although he thought that it included a number of dangers. “My position was based on the principle that the importance of truth is higher and that it exceeds everything else,” said Havel. The new law is to take effect in the spring, while in one year the Defense and Interior Ministries will be able to publish the archived files in print and on the Internet. In addition, the lists of StB collaborators and agents, as well as documents of army counter-intelligence will be accessible. However, the documents whose publication might jeopardize people’s lives and national security will remain secret.

International Exercise of Czech and U.S. Paratroopers Starts

March 20 An international exercise of Czech and U.S. paratroopers called “Lion Stealth” started in the Boletice military training area and at Bechyne airport in south Bohemia. The exercise includes 235 U.S. paratroopers and 200 members of the Czech 4th rapid deployment brigade.

Havel and Robertson: NATO Preparations In Order

March 20 NATO Secretary General George Robertson voiced no doubts that the Czech Republic will successfully organize the fall NATO summit in Prague. Further, Havel and Robertson agreed that NATO should invite new countries to join NATO at the Prague summit. An emphasis will also be given to the talks between NATO and Russian senior officials at the summit. Forty-six heads of state from NATO and Partnership for Peace members are expected to arrive in Prague for the Summit on November 21 & 22, 2002.

Havel, Pithart Lead in Confidence Polls

March 21 With a confidence rating of about 50 percent, President Vaclav Havel and Senate chairman Petr Pithart (KDU-CSL, Christian Democrat) are the most trustworthy politicians of the four highest ranked state officials, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency in March. Premier Milos Zeman (CSSD, Social Democrat) and Chamber of Deputies chairman Vaclav Klaus (ODS, Civic Democrat) are viewed more as party politicians than state representatives, the poll says.

Czechs Provide Aid to Victims of Earthquake in Afghanistan

March 27 The Czech Foreign and Interior Ministries and Czech Television’s People in Need Foundation are participating in sending aid to the Afghan Baghlan province, which was heavily hit by a powerful earthquake. According to the Interior Ministry, almost 2.5 million crowns have been allocated for this purpose and the People in Need is sending 24 tons of foodstuffs to victims of the earthquake in the north Afghani town of Mazar-e-Sharif.

Kavan, Tvrdik to Visit Afghanistan

March 27 Foreign Minister Jan Kavan plans to visit Afghanistan by the end of this summer, and Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik plans a visit to Afghanistan in May. Apart from political talks, Kavan also intends to offer Afghanistan a humanitarian gift, probably equipment for one of Kabul’s hospitals. Tvrdik will go there to see the work of the Czech doctors and soldiers of the 6th field hospital of the Czech Army.

Czech-Slovak KFOR Unit Joins Operational task

April2 The first Czech-Slovak KFOR battalion in Kosovo completed the enlargement of its operational zone and fully joined the operational task of the International Brigade Center. The original unit of 200 soldiers has been extended into a battalion, meaning an increase by 300 troops. The battalion, which was established last fall and started operating in Kosovo last March, now contains 400 Czech and 100 Slovak soldiers. The battalion’s operational zone covers 435 square kilometers and it is situated along 90 kilometers of the border between Kosovo and Serbia.

People in Need Foundation Opens Reconstructed School in Chechnya

April4 The Czech foundation People in Need opened a school in Duba-Jurt, about 30 km from Grozny, Chechnya, which it has completely repaired. The school will serve about 700 pupils. The reconstruction of the building started in August 2001, with the Czech Interior Ministry providing financial support. The foundation is also completing another two elementary schools in Grozny and coordinating its own school network in refugee camps in Ingushetia.

Czechs Want Russia to Repay Debt With Supplies of Aircraft

April5 Two or three giant transport An-70 aircraft, seven Mi-24 helicopters, and spare parts to Russian-made military equipment will be supplied by Russia to the Czech Republic as part of the repayment of the former Soviet Union and Russia’s debt to the Czech Republic. The agreement is to be signed by Premier Milos Zeman during his visit to Russia this month. Initially, Russia owed the Czech Republic $3.6 billion, which is now down to $1.1 billion, including unpaid interest.

Blair and Pithart Discuss Czech EU bid

April8 British Prime Minister Tony Blair sees no obstacles which might at the last minute prevent the Czech Republic’s EU accession, Senate chairman Petr Pithart said after meeting with Blair. Blair’s statement comes in response to the demands by some German and Austrian politicians who have called upon the Czech Republic to cancel the Benes decrees before it joins the EU. The Benes decrees sanctioned the deportation of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, as well as the confiscation of their property.

Chamber Approves Sending Field Hospital to Afghanistan

April9 The Chamber of Deputies approved sending the Czech Army’s 6th field hospital to Afghanistan. All parties in the Chamber, except for the Communists (KSCM) supported the move. Almost 200 soldiers are set to leave for Afghanistan by the end of April. In Kabul, Czech army doctors will operate as part of the ISAF peacekeeping forces. They will help both soldiers in the area and local civilians. The first group of Czech army doctors is already operating in Kabul. The rest of the 200-strong unit will join them in two phases over several weeks.

Record Number of Parties Competing in This Year’s Elections

April10 A record number of parties hope to succeed in this year’s elections to the Chamber of Deputies that are to be held in mid-June. This year, 29 parties and movements have registered for the elections, six more than the previous record. That record (for elections held after 1989) was established in 1992, when 23 parties and movements registered for elections to the Czech National Council (CNR), the predecessor of the current Chamber of Deputies.

Only 33 Laws Left for Harmonization With EU Law

April10 Only 33 more laws are needed to harmonize the Czech legal order with that of the European Union. These laws should be passed by the beginning of next year. January 1, 2003 is the date that the Czech Republic would like to be fully prepared for accession to the EU. Three of these laws are already in the Parliament and the government has prepared another 13, but will not have the chance to present them to lawmakers before the mid-June elections to the Chamber of Deputies. The Czech Republic also must fulfill a number of non-legislative criteria, such as fighting corruption, creating a system of public administration, ensuring lifelong education for the justice sector, fighting racism, and integrating foreigners.

Cibrian Says Number of Czech MPs Could be Raised

April10 European Commission Ambassador to the Czech Republic Ramiro Cibrian said that he believed the Czech Republic would succeed in getting more seats on the European Parliament (EP). According to a decision by the EU summit in Nice in 2000, the Czech Republic will have 20 seats in the EP after it enters the European Union, while Portugal and Belgium, which have fewer inhabitants, will have 22 MEPs. The Czech Republic considers this decision unjust. Cibrian said that the mistake from Nice would be corrected; however he also said that he did not know when, adding that it can be either before or after Prague’s EU entry.

Czech Republic Granted Over 100 Million EURO from Phare Program

April11 The Czech Republic will receive EURO 103.8 million or Kc 3.15 billion from the EU Phare program this year, compared with EURO 84.4 million (Kc 2.7 billion) in 2001. The money will be granted to projects approved before the end of 2004 and implemented before the end of 2005. The European Union determines the size of subsidies within the Phare program from the number of inhabitants of each candidate country, its GDP, and the country’s area.

Zeman Starts Official Visit to Russia

April14 Czech Premier Milos Zeman, accompanied by a government delegation and over 60 leading representatives of Czech industry, started his official visit to Russia. During the four-day visit, Zeman is to meet with President Vladimir Putin, as well as with the chairmen of both houses of the Parliament, Gennady Seleznev of the lower State Duma and Sergey Mironov of the upper Council of the Russian Federation, and Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov, who visited the Czech Republic last October. Zeman will also attend a Czech-Russian business forum and sign about ten documents, half of which concern the repayment of the Russian debt.

Prime Minister Zeman Promotes Trade Ties

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Mexican president Vicente Fox promised to strengthen economic ties and exchange technological and business expertise during Mr. Zeman’s visit to Mexico as part of his North American tour this month, which also included trips to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami.

While in the United States, the Prime Minister pushed for more investment projects by American businesses in the Czech Republic, urging the U.S. to become at least the second largest investor after Germany.

Mr. Zeman also met with Baxter, a leading pharmaceutical company, opened a trading day at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and visited the nation’s largest navy training base at Great Lakes, IL. Mr. Zeman attended several social functions as well, such as the official business luncheon with premier businesses in the Midwest. The event was co-sponsored by the Czech Embassy in Washington and the Mid-America Committee. In Miami, Mr. Zeman met with Czech Honorary Consuls in the United States, as well as with Florida State and Greater Miami officials, and Florida economic development organizations.

The Minister for Industry and Trade, Mr. Miroslav Gregr, who along with a trade delegation of 15 major Czech companies accompanied the Prime Minister on his trip, had very productive meetings with representatives of a number of companies including Motorola, GM-Electro-Motive Division, and Skoda Volkswagen, etc. They also attended several business seminars with partner trade associations, local manufacturers, and traders.

SAB - Miller Could Boost Pilsner Sales

A potential merger between South African Breweries and Miller Brewing Company could mean a boom for the Czech Republic’s largest export brew, Pilsner Urquell. A merger with Miller, the second-largest beer producer in the United States, would likely improve Pilsner’s reach into the lucrative U.S. market. Miller is among America’s oldest beer makers and has a well-established distribution network. When South African Breweries (SAB) bought Czech brewing companies Plzensky Prazdroj and Pivovar Radegast in 2000, it placed Pilsner at the top of its priority list for international brand building and cast its eyes to the U.S. market. The brewery sent about a million cases of Pilsner (approximately 85,000 hectoliters) to the U.S. last year. SAB officials say they would like to see that increase by nearly 50 percent annually.

Beer industry observers have long speculated that Philip Morris wanted better performance from Miller against its rival Anheuser-Busch and would be better placed as part of a major beer conglomerate.

For Pilsner, the acquisition of Miller would mean access to a wider distribution network in the United States. Pilsner has targeted the U.S., as well as the United Kingdom and Poland, as key areas for expanding its export sales.

Plzensky Prazdroj’s Czech competitors, many of whom are also trying to squeeze into the tight U.S. market, characterize Pilsner’s recent aggressive ascension here as remarkable. Although still relatively insignificant on the market, sending an additional 500,000 cases a year to the U.S. as planned would push the Czech brew up in the rankings.

The U.S. is widely considered to be the largest and most lucrative beer market in the world and would go a long way toward propelling SAB toward becoming a truly global brewer. SAB, like most of the major players, is desperately looking to consolidate, create greater economies of scale, and to expand.

The basic dilemma is that large brewers, especially those in small markets, must export to stay alive. Yet exporting beer is an expensive proposition.

SAB says it must do so to offset the weak South African rand, the value of which has collapsed over the last six months. SAB is highly dependent on its home market, producing more than 95 percent of the beer consumed in South Africa. A merger with Miller would cut the percentage of rand-denominated earnings from 54 percent to 32 percent of the total.

So far, SAB’s strategy, other than to increase exports of Pilsner, is also to develop strong, leading brands in growing markets, like China and India.

Crown Hits New Heights

Throughout the month of April, the Czech crown continued to climb to new heights against the euro as renewed intervention by the Czech National Bank (CNB) hardly dented its upward surge. The crown passed the psychological threshold of Kc 30 to the euro on Thursday, April 11, prompting fresh euro buying by the CNB. However, the crown shrugged off the intervention and hit a new high of Kc 29.90 on Friday, April 12, before retreating slightly above Kc 30.

The best the CNB can hope to do with intervention, according to most analysts, is to draw a line in the sand and stop the currency strengthening beyond that point. The consensus is that the CNB cannot weaken the crown unless it intervenes repeatedly. The real debate is what instruments the central bank could use to slow down appreciation.

Kroje Dance into National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library

Beginning April 12, the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library presents Kroje-Dress for the Dance of Life!, a beautiful exhibition of folk costumes from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. These powerful symbols of Czech and Slovak heritage represent some of the finest folk art of the Czech and Slovak people, reflecting several hundred years of evolution and refinement. Made entirely by hand, kroje tell the story of their proud wearers, chronicling generations of traditions affected by the local natural environment, foreign influences, fashion preferences, and local taste. There is no single national kroje for the Czech Republic or Slovakia, the costumes are varied and unique to each village and region.

The exhibit features not only the largest collection of kroje ever shown outside of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but also includes a series of original oil paintings by Joza Uprka, one of Moravia’s most recognized artists of the early 20th century. Uprka is best known for his post-impressionist style, using bright color and texture to depict Moravian village life and individuals in traditional kroje. The exhibit is further enhanced by images adapted from a newly acquired set of World War I era lantern slides, including hand-colored photos of men and women wearing their kroje.

Kroje-Dress for the Dance of Life! opened on April 12 and will run through October 13, 2002 at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For more information, please call 319.362.8500, or visit the museum’s website at

Profile: George Novak

In 1995, George Novak was appointed Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic in Atlanta. From the start, Mr. Novak was an obvious choice for the position. Czechoslovak by birth, as well as a successful, well regarded businessman with an active role in Atlanta’s development as an international city, Mr. Novak is well suited to represent the Czech Republic.

Mr. Novak was born and raised in Czechoslovakia, where he earned his master’s degree in architectural engineering at the Institute of Technology in Brno. After the Soviet invasion of 1968, he immigrated to the United States and settled in Atlanta. Since his arrival in the U.S., Mr. Novak’s career has been a classic story of success. In 1983, after working in construction management on numerous projects for U.S. and European based companies, he established his own company. His firm, the George Novak Company, has assisted mostly European clients in establishing their production plants in the U.S. and is well respected in Atlanta. Mr. Novak’s prominent role in his community is also reflected by his membership on the Board of Directors of the Southern Chapter of the Belgium American Chamber of Commerce and his membership on the advisory board of the German American Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta.

Mr. Novak is a U.S. citizen, but has kept a loyal attachment to his country of origin, often going above and beyond the call of duty in his role as honorary consul. Among his many accomplishments as honorary consul, Mr. Novak worked hard to promote the Czech Republic’s entrance into NATO and has sought to increase commerce between the Czech Republic and Atlanta’s southeast region. Furthermore, he has devoted much of his free time to helping Czech citizens in need, establishing contact between Czech and American universities, and arranging a rich exchange of cultural activities between Atlanta and the Czech Republic.

Ambassador Palous Visits Moravian College

Dr. Martin Palous, the Czech Ambassador to the U.S., recently visited Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. The Ambassador’s visit was at the invitation of Dr. Ervin Rokke, President of Moravian College. Ambassador Palous was accompanied by Mr. Jakub Skalnik, the Czech Embassy’s First Secretary for Science and Education and Mr. Petr Janousek, Press Secretary of the Embassy. Mr. Janousek is also an alumnus of Moravian College having spent one academic year at the school as a Palacky University exchange student. The group was also accompanied by Peter A. Rafaeli, Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic in Philadelphia.

While at the college, the Ambassador received an overview of Moravian’s history and was familiarized with their scope of academic activities. In addition, he also had the opportunity to sit in and briefly participate in a philosophy class. During a “working luncheon” hosted by Dr. Rokke, the Ambassador met key faculty members and staff, members of the Board of Trustees, and some Czech exchange students. During a tour of the campus grounds, the Ambassador visited the statue of Jan Amos Komensky, a gift from the people of Czechoslovakia, which was rededicated by President Havel ten years ago during his visit to the Lehigh Valley.

Ambassador Palous’s visit is hoped to provide an impetus to expanded academic exchanges between Moravian College and some universities in the Czech Republic.

Contributed by Mr. Peter Rafaeli, Honorary Consul General in Philadelphia


Czechs Embrace Lacrosse

At the end of June 2002, the Czech Men’s National Lacrosse team will travel to Perth, Australia to compete in the World Lacrosse Championships. From July 6 to July 14, seventeen national teams will compete in three divisions.

Forty years ago, Czechoslovak boy scouts who were intrigued by pictures of North American Indians playing lacrosse, designed their own small, one-handed sticks. They invented their own rules and started to play “Czech lacrosse,” a game that is still played enthusiastically in the Czech Republic today. In 1986, they converted to the regular sticks used worldwide. So far, the Czechs have competed in six European Championships and two World Championships (including one in England in 1994 and in the USA - Baltimore in 1998), capturing three second place titles and two third place titles at the European Championships. Today, about 550 men and women play lacrosse in the Czech Republic. For more information on Czech lacrosse, please visit or (the Czech-American Lacrosse Foundation, started by Chuck Beattie, a Czech-American from Alexandria, VA).

Events at the Embassy

Thursday, May 30

Theater•Washington’s SCENA Theatre presents a workshop production of Franz Kafka’s The Castle, directed by Robert McNamara on the occasion of the upcoming anniversary of the author’s death. Kafka’s final novel, unfinished at his death in 1924, tells the haunting tale of a man’s struggle with an inscrutable and threatening authority to gain entrance to the Castle. At 7:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. Reservations are recommended. Please call 202.274.9100, x. 3413. Tickets are $12 at the door.

Wednesday, June 5

Concert•Violin virtuoso Petr Macecek performs at the Embassy in the Washington, DC stop of his current U.S. tour. Macecek is the winner of several competitions, including the Henryk Wieniawski Competition in Poland. From 1988 to 1993, he held the prominent position of concertmaster in the Slovak Chamber Orchestra and from 1994 to 1997 he was concertmaster as well as soloist with the Suk Chamber Orchestra. 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, June 11

Concert•The Czech Music Series presents the 13th in the popular series of chamber concerts with Washington Musica Viva under the direction of Carl Banner. This program includes three great compositions for piano and strings: Bohuslav Martinu’s powerful Piano Quintet #2 (from 1944), Antonin Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A (one of the best-loved works in the entire chamber music literature), and an exciting new Quintet by leading Prague composer Hanus Barton. Performing will be Lina Bahn and Sasha Margolis, violins, Mahoko Eguchi, viola, Lori Barnet, cello, and Carl Banner, piano. 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.

June 14 & 15

Theater•Milan Kohout, David Franklin and Tom Plsek, members of the Mobius Artists Group (Boston’s artist-run center for experimental art in all media) present two performances of the most recent edition of Flying and Flowing: Horizontal and Vertical. The text of Moore’s utopia is read backwards and the legal regulations by which surveyors determine property lines are sung as a religious liturgy. Filing and Following, Fling and Fooling, Smiling and Doodling, Singing and Nooding. Do not be fooled by the impostors: Vertical and horizontal can find a meeting place . . . At 8:30 p.m. at the Czech Embassy. Reservations are recommended, please call: 202.274.9100, x. 3413. Tickets $12 at the door.

Czech Events Around the USA

May 28 The Czech Center New York presents Jaroslav Andel - Avant-garde Page Design 1900 - 1950. Art historian Jaroslav Andel presents his latest contribution to the emerging history of printed material, published by Delano Greenridge Editions. At 7 PM at the Czech Center New York, 1109 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10028. For more information, please call 212.288.0971 or visit

Every Weekend Czech Voice of Cleveland with Joe Kocab on WERE AM/1300 Saturdays 2 - 3 PM WERE AM/1300 Sundays 1 - 3 PM

March 2 – June 2 The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library hosts a special exhibition, Contemporary Turned Wood Toys, featuring the work of Jan Honza Novacek. Novacek’s creates his wooden figures by turning mandrels and then carving and painting them, a traditional form of art in Europe. For more information, please call 319.362.8500.

May 15 The Fleisher Collection of the Philadelphia Free Library in cooperation with the Honorary Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Philadelphia presents an all-Martinu Chamber Music Concert. In the Montgomery Auditorium of the Free Library, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA. At 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. For further information, please call 215.686.5313. More information about the activities of the Honorary Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Philadelphia can be found by calling 215.646.7777 or visiting

May 16 & 17 The Northwestern University Wind Ensemble performs works by Karel Husa. For additional information, please contact the Department of Music at Cornell University, Lincoln Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-4101, tel.: 607.255.4097.

May 17, 18 & 19 The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library presents Houby Days, beginning on May 17 with the 2nd Annual Taste of Czech & Slovak courtesy of the Museum Guild of the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. The NCMSL will hold a May Pole dance at 2 PM on Saturday and Sunday. Other activities include music, button accordion contest, folk dancing, games and the Miss Czech-Slovak Iowa pageant. For more information, please call 319.362.8500.

May 18 The Washington, DC chapter of the American Sokol hosts a Tennis Tournament. Anyone interested in participating should call 301.585.8534.

May 27 The Czech and Slovak Heritage Association will hold Memorial Day ceremonies (weather permitting) at the historic Bohemian National Cemetery with speaker Ron Bartek, Secretary of the American Friends of the Czech Republic and a decorated Vietnam veteran. At 1300 Horner’s Lane in Northeast Baltimore, MD. At 11 AM, for more information, please visit

June 2 The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library hosts the Life Long Learning Smetana Forum. Experts and scholars will discuss the role Bedrich Smetana played in shaping the public image of the Czech and Slovak Republics. Four noted speakers will discuss his art and his life in this fascinating program. At the Heritage Hall, Cedar Rapids, IA, 2 – 4 PM. For more information, please call 319.362.8500

June 8 The Czech and Slovak American Genealogy Society of Illinois (CSAGSI) holds its quarterly meeting. Non-members interested in genealogical information about Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia, Silesia or Ruthenia are invited to attend. At 1:30 PM at the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road, Riverside, IL, 60546. For more information about the meeting or CSAGSI, please call 630.906.8175, 708.485.6189 visit

June 14 & 15 Tabor, South Dakota hosts the 54th Annual Czech Days in Tabor, featuring a parade, dance, talent contest, the Czech Days Coronation Ball and much more. For information, please contact the Tabor Area Chamber of Commerce at 605.463.2476, or visit

June 17 – 21 The Czech and Slovak Sokol Minnesota host a Children’s Culture Camp. For additional information, please call 612.920.5949, email or visit

June 20, 25 & 27 The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library hosts a Porcelain painting Class. Learn how to paint Czech dancers on a plate with instructor JoAnne Neff. Class size is limited to 15. Please enroll by Jun e19. Fee is $20. At the Heritage Hall, Cedar Rapids, IA, 6:30 - 9 PM. For more information, or to enroll, please call 319.362.8500.